Hey there, hi there, ho there, you proactive Weekend Warriors, you, who are already doing so well preparing to relocate!
Last week I addressed the documentation you should be sure to have on hand when you move here or perhaps visit in advance to find and rent your London apartment. So today, inspired by my afternoon at the U.S. Embassy yesterday to collect extra passport pages for my husband’s upcoming business travels, I thought I’d give you the heads up that the American Embassy in the website is london.usembassy.gov, and its physical location is at 24 Grosvenor Square. You never know how quickly you may need to run there upon moving here, so it’s good to have it mapped out in advance, just in case. You might also review the services provided and what procedures you may need to follow in the event you need to replace your U.S. passport.
Likewise, the Canadian Embassy is operating out of 38 Grosvenor Street in McDonald House as of December 2010. The High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom website is www.canadainternational.gc.ca/united_kingdom-royaume_uni.
And regardless of what country you’re relocating from, you should be familiarizing yourself with the UK Border Agency website at www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk. This is the key site to explore when researching your visa—determine which type is appropriate to your situation and download the application. Should any issues arise with your visa once you’re on United Kingdom soil, the Home Office public enquiry site closest to London residents is the Croydon office at 40 Wellesley Road, CR9 2BY.
You will want to be certain that before you hop the plane to the UK you have made copies of your passport and visa—at least one copy should travel with you, but in a separate piece of luggage from where you’re carrying your passport. Another copy should remain in your home country in the care of a loved one and/or safe deposit box. When my purse was stolen at a pub during my first months living in London, I was thanking my lucky stars that I had already made copies of my passport and visa for potential employers during my London job search; otherwise, I hadn’t even thought about making photocopies already at home. Not that passport and visa replacement are impossible without such, but it makes the process much easier if you have this evidence with the key information at hand. A copy of my first visa along with a letter verifying my reapplication for another is precisely what helped me get through U.K. customs after pre-planned international travels partaking before my new visa was officially issued.
So while this word of advice might sound like it’s stating the obvious, it’s one worthy of strong emphasis. You couldn’t possibly be more vulnerable after an international relocation without your proper documentation. Moving to London, UK usually doesn’t come with a desire to be deported or inability to leave it ;).