Establishing Credit 

When you move to another country you are basically starting over again at square one and without a credit rating getting settled can be a bit difficult. Even if you had an excellent credit rating in Canada it won’t be travelling with you to the UK -you are going to have to rebuild it.

Two things you are likely going to sort first are a mobile phone and a bank account – both credit products. I couldn’t get a contract for my first phone though they did say that I could buy a phone and pay 6 months up front on a plan or, buy a cheap phone and go on pay-as-you-go.  I opted for the cheap phone which I paid around £10 for and topped it up when I needed to.  The thing I loved was I could top it up at the bank machine in any amount I wanted to.

I set up my bank account through Lloyds TSB International in Toronto prior to moving over. In order to set up the account I had to provide Canadian ID, Canadian proof of address and current Canadian bank statements, along with a completed application form (which they will send you). The account took 1-2 weeks to set up and I received my debit card in the post prior to moving and was able to use it as soon as I landed in the UK.

Once you are working and your salary is being deposited and direct debits going out to pay bills will all go towards establishing your credit rating. As soon as you are able apply for a credit card (initially you may be more likely to be accepted for a higher interest credit card) or take out a small bank loan, even if it’s just for a few hundred pounds. Make regular payments on it for a few months, then try and pay it off early if you can. Be careful not to apply for too many credit cards and/or loans (this will negatively affect your credit rating) and in my opinion unless you are making a very huge salary, wait at least a year of living here before you even try, or more often than not, you will be turned down. Talk to your bank, tell them what you are trying to do and they will advise you the best way to go about establishing your credit over here.

The other thing you need to do right away is get yourself on the Electoral Roll.  As a Commonwealth Citizen residing in the UK you have the right to vote in the elections, so make sure you register and ensure every time you move you contact them to update your records.  You will need to contact your local authority to register.

When we initially came over I had enough funds to last us 6 months.  As big of a pain it is to not be eligible for any type of credit, looking back I’m actually glad I couldn’t.  Living off cash/savings taught me a valuable lesson to live within your means (something I didn’t always do in Canada!).

Helpful links:

Lloyds Bank New to the UK
http://international.lloydsbank.com/
Transferwise
https://www.gov.uk/electoral-register/overview
https://www.luma.co.uk/credit-cards-ratings-guides/credit-cards-life-stages/expat-credit-cards/