close menu

From SA to UK: What one Saffa learned while tying up loose ends

by 1st Contact | Jun 23, 2015
  • The road to London, for South Africans at least, is paved with hiccups, last-minute costs and unforeseen circumstances. Keith van der Linde unpacks some of these experiences to help you plan for the big move.

    Make sure your TB test certificate is still valid

    If you’re heading to the UK for more than six months (on an Ancestry visa, for example) and are traveling from one of these countries, you’ll need to go for a TB test when you apply for your visa.

    Your TB test results are only valid for one year. If you put your UK plans on hold for longer than that you’ll need to go for another TB test and show your certificate at immigration control.

    This is an expensive exercise in itself, but failure to do so means you won’t be able to enter the UK.

    There are only three Home Office-approved TB test clinics in South Africa – Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban – so give yourself enough time to travel to one of these centres if you need to book a second appointment.

    Visit the dentist before you leave

    Private dentists are notoriously expensive in the UK and while you can book an appointment with a National Health Service (NHS) dentist, you might have a long wait if you’ve just arrived in the country.

    The bottom line is that getting your dental work done in South Africa is a lot cheaper than booking an emergency appointment with a private dentist in the UK, so get your teeth checked before you go.

    Stock up on prescription medication

    Although you’ll be put onto the NHS once you’re in the UK, some prescription medicines may not be available if you’re based in a small town or village. The safest bet is to stock up with three months of prescription medicine before you depart SA.

    South African medical scripts are not accepted in the UK - all the more reason to bolster your medicinal arsenal before you leave.

    You will need a letter saying that you are authorised to take so much medicine to the UK. Keep all boxes, scripts and receipts in the event that you are questioned at customs for carrying so many meds.

    Beware of online scams

    If you’re looking to find a room before getting to the UK, Spareroom will constantly pop up in conversations with people who’ve already moved there. Word-of-mouth recommendations are always the best, and Spareroom is tops in this regard.

    The UK rental market is bustling, so be prepared for a bevy of responses if you set up a Spareroom profile, most of whom will be from legitimate landlords and co-tenants open to the idea of meeting over Skype.

    Finding a room this way does carry its own risks though, the biggest of which are scams.

    You’ll need to do a lot of work if you’re hoping to secure a room from South Africa: Messaging prospective landlords and co-tenants, responding to queries, speaking to friends of friends, and being constantly available for both formal and informal chats over Skype.

    The downside to this is that it’s easy to lose track of the properties you’ve looked at, the properties you’ve saved or starred, and the people you’ve messaged.

    This is exactly where scammers target.

    A favourite method scammers use to extract money from overseas-based room seekers is to send you a direct email, written in such a way that it makes you think that you have already expressed interest in a property.

    It’s not unusual for landlords to use personal email addresses to respond to prospective tenants from Spareroom and Gumtree. In a healthy scenario this leads to an email conversation that results in the landlord or tenant confirming which property s/he is referring to, and sending through a link and pictures.

    I received several emails with pictures of flatshares, a “thank you for expressing interest in my apartment” message from an apparent landlord, as well as an immediate request for a deposit. None of these people provided any proof as to having a flatshare profile online.

    Beware of so-called landlords who cannot provide links or images to flatshares, and steer clear of anyone requesting a deposit in the very first email they send you.

    My advice? Crash at a mate’s place, doss on their couch, and find accommodation once you’re there using a popular service like SpareRoom’s Speed Flatmating, where you get to meet prospective roomies in person.

    If you’re looking to hit the ground running when you arrive in London, 1st Contact Kickstart is a good bet. They’ll help you open up a UK bank account, apply for your NI number, transfer money internationally, give you an international SIM card, and put you in touch with the UK’s top accommodation providers and recruiters.

    We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

    Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

    • Australia skyline
      Landed a temporary job Down Under? Get an Australian working holiday visa
      Jul 08, 2019  |  by Guest writer
    • sydney-australia
      Australian visa processing times: How long you’ll wait for approval
      Jun 27, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood
    • British passport and citizenship approved
      British citizenship and indefinite leave to remain: Why you need to know the difference
      Jun 25, 2019  |  by John Dunn
    • seven-corners-image
      The importance of purchasing travel insurance with a Tier 4 UK student visa
      Jun 13, 2019  |  by Guest writer
    • kangaroos
      Two new Aussie visa routes for skilled migrants
      May 23, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood
    • Passport-stamp
      25% of UK spouse visa applications are refused every year – make sure yours isn’t one
      Apr 02, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood
    • UK flag with calculator
      How to calculate your costs before you immigrate to the UK
      Mar 29, 2019  |  by John Dunn
    • businessman multitasking
      Everything we know about the new Tier 1 Innovator visa
      Mar 29, 2019  |  by John Dunn
    • british moving van
      Shipping household goods from South Africa to the UK, what you need to know
      Mar 29, 2019  |  by Leanne Shrosbree
    • City-of-london
      Applying for a UK visa from Australia and New Zealand – what you need to know to avoid being refused
      Mar 20, 2019  |  by Sam Hopwood

    South Africa

    Cape Town

    Regent Square
    Doncaster Road
    Kenilworth 7708 +27 (0) 21 657 2120


    25 Richefond Circle
    Umhlanga 4320 +27 (0) 31 536 8843

    United Kingdom


    One Croydon
    12-16 Addiscombe Road
    Croydon CR0 0XT +44 (0) 20 7759 7514



    9 Yarra Street
    South Yarra
    VIC 3141 +613 (0) 8651 4500

    Sable International is a trading name of 1st Contact Money Limited (company number 07070528), registered in England and Wales. We are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK (FCA no. 517570), the Financial Services Conduct Authority in South Africa (1st Contact Money [PTY] Ltd - FSP no. 41900) and hold an Australian Financial Services Licence issued by ASIC to deal in foreign exchange (1st Contact Group - AFS Licence number 335 126).

    We use cookies to provide the best website experience for you. Using this website means that you agree to this. How we use cookies.