If your move has been organized as part of a corporate relocation to London then your employer will apply for all of the relevant visas and government requirements. If you are moving to London on your own, or have an accompanying partner who wishes to work, you will have to apply for a National Insurance Number quite soon after you arrive.
Your NI number is an important part of being able to work after a corporate relocation. Your NI number is a number that you are given by the government that is used to trace all of your taxes and your contributions to the NI fund. If you want to work in the city after your relocation you are going to need a National Insurance Number. For Americans moving to London, your NI number works in the same way as your Social Security Number. You don’t exist if you don’t have one!
You can apply for your NI number through your local Jobcentre Plus. They will organize that you have an ‘Evidence of Identity’ interview where you will have to present your passport and any visas that you have showing your eligibility to live and work in the UK. If they require any further documentation they will advise you when they set up your interview.
It is quite important that you apply as soon as possible after your corporate relocation, there is a waiting period of at least six week to arrange an interview and it can take another month after that to have your NI number posted to you. You need to keep checking on the status of your NI number as dealing with a government department can be frustrating.
If you do not have a job or offer of employment it is still vital that you apply for an NI number, as it will make your job searching just that much easier. It may help if you are registered at a recruitment agency to prove that you are actively looking for work. When you go for your NI interview you will have to take proof of residency which is why it is important to get a couple of copies of your signed lease agreement from your relocation agents. Your corporate relocation is always easier if you have a professional company to handle the details.