Just arrived in Northern Ireland?

Apart from finding a job and getting a home, there are a few things you will need to do, to get you started as a new resident of Northern Ireland.

These things are very important, because without them you won’t be able to legally work in Northern Ireland; however most people arriving in NI do not know how to go about getting them.

If you are one of those people, then this guide will help you understand why these things are so important to have and where to go to get them.

Get a National Insurance Number

Register with a doctor (GP)

Open a bank account

Get a National Insurance Number

The National Insurance Number (NIN) is a form of personal identification number used mainly by administration, social security system and the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for tax purposes. It is, to an extent a proof that you are a resident in Northern Ireland. Without it, your employer won’t be able to register you with the HMRC as an employee (you can work without NIN, but you have to apply for one straight away). You also won’t be able to claim any social security benefits that you may be entitled to.

To get a NIN you need to attend an interview with your local Job Centre office. During the appointment you will be asked a series of questions relating to your immigration status, country of origin and reason you came to Northern Ireland. You will need to bring a document confirming your identity such as a passport or a national ID card and provide evidence that you are a resident of NI. You will be advised what type of documents are accepted as proof of address. The documents need to be originals, not photocopies. That evidence can be:

  • An official letter with your name and address on it such as a letter from your doctor.
  • A utility bill.
  • A letter from your employer.
  • A letter from your landlord or your tenancy agreement.

Soon after the interview you will receive a letter with your National Insurance Number. Make sure to keep it safe as it is the only record you will have of it.

To apply for a NIN you need to phone your local National Insurance Number Processing Centre. There are three processing centres in Northern Ireland:To find out more information about National Insurance Number and how to apply visit:
http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/applying-for-a-national-insurance-number-if-you-live-in-northern-ireland

Shaftesbury Square
(Belfast Area)
+44 28 9013 8286
Shaftesbury Square
(Belfast Area)
+44 28 9013 8286
Portadown
(Southern Area)
+44 28 3877 3046

Register with a GP

Registering with a doctor is another important matter and should be done as soon as possible when you arrive in Northern Ireland. If you get ill and you are not registered with a GP, you won’t be able to get help at your local medical centre. In that case you would need to visit the Accident & Emergency department at your local hospital, where you would be charged for medical treatment.

To register with a doctor, you need to visit your local GP practice and get an application form. Once the form is filled in you need to bring it back to the practice. Soon after that you will receive a letter with your Medical Card which is a proof that you are registered with a doctor and eligible for free medical care. Once you receive your medical card it is a good idea to book an appointment with your GP. Your doctor will do a general checkup of your health and update your medical record, that way your doctor will have some background information about you when you are ill and need help.

Tip: It is also a good idea to register with a dentist as soon as possible. The registration process is very similar to the GP. Dental care in Northern Ireland is not free unless you are in receipt of social security benefits that make you eligible for free or reduced price dental care (dental care for pregnant women is free up to 2 years after the baby is born). Once you are registered with the dentist you should book an initial appointment at which time the dentist will check your teeth and complete your dental record. The initial appointment is important because once it is complete it allows your dental clinic to offer you an emergency appointment should you need one. Otherwise you would have to wait in line for a regular appointment even if you are in pain.

In a case where you are in pain, but have not yet registered with a dentist or your dental clinic is closed, there are emergency dental clinics that will offer a pain relief treatment only at the following locations:You can find further information about the opening times and services they provide at:
http://www.hscboard.hscni.net/news/EmergencyDentalServices.html

Craigavon Area Hospital
68 Lurgan Road,
Portadown,
Craigavon BT63 5QQ

+44 28 3833 4444

Belfast City Hospital
Lisburn Road,
Belfast,
BT9 7AB

+44 28 9032 9241

Open a Bank Account

Opening your own a bank account is absolutely necessary. That is because the only acceptable official payment forms are either a bank transfer or a cheque, therefore your employer won’t be able to pay your wages if you don’t have a bank account.  You also won’t be able to receive any social security benefit payments.

To open a bank account you will need to make an appointment in the local branch of your preferred bank. This can be done either by telephoning their respective appointment line or visiting the branch in person. During the appointment you will be asked questions relating to your employment, residency status as well as monthly income and expenses such as rent. You will need to bring a document confirming your identity such as passport of a national ID card. You will also need a proof of address. The list of accepted documents vary by bank and you should be advised about the appropriate ones when booking your appointment. Example documents could be:

  • An official letter with your name and address on it such as a letter from your doctor.
  • A utility bill.
  • A letter from your employer.
  • A letter with your National Insurance Number.

The biggest problem for people arriving in Northern Ireland is acquiring a proof of address as they don’t have any utility bills in their name or don’t receive any official letters; however there is a way around that. If you register with a doctor or get a National Insurance Number before opening a bank account, you will get a letter that some banks will accept as a proof of address, providing that you arrived in Northern Ireland within last 3 months. One of the banks that accept a NIN letter as proof of address is  Ulster Bank (http://www.ulsterbank.co.uk).