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Welcome: a guide for Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa holders in the UK

Information for arrivals from Hong Kong on the British National (Overseas) visa

This page has been designed for those people who have recently arrived in the United Kingdom from Hong Kong, or are applying to move to the UK, as part of the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) visa.

The UK government provides advice and guidance to people living in the United Kingdom on how to access services provided by the government, or on behalf of the government. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists of England, ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland. Information on services may be different depending on which country of the UK you live in.

To help Hong Kong BN(O)s to settle into life in the UK, a Welcome Pack, with welcome from the Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has been developed. This takes you through step by step in more detail on how you can access the public services that are available to you – from what you will need to do find work, to registering you and your family with a doctor, or finding a school for your children.

Welcome Pack for arrivals from Hong Kong on the British National (Overseas) visa

PDF, 593KB, 36 pages

How to apply for a National Insurance (NI) number

To work in the UK, you will need a National Insurance number.

You can start work without a National Insurance number if you can prove you have the right to work in the UK.

Careers advice and support

You can get careers advice and support from the National Careers Service.

Starting a business in the UK

Find out more about how to set up a business in the UK.

The British Business Bank is the UK’s government-owned development bank. It offers advice and support to small businesses in the UK, including help to identify suitable financing options. Working with partners it also offers start up loans and free mentoring advice to newly established companies. You should also see the British Business Bank’s online Finance Hub.

There are several other organisations that will help you start a business. These include Local Growth Hubs (England only) or chambers of commerce that will help you finance and grow your business. A list of these in your area can be found on finance and support for your business

Housing – how to rent

A guide on how to rent a property in England.

Housing – buying a home

A guide is for people who are thinking of purchasing a home.

How to set up bank account

You can find out how to open a bank account in the UK by visiting the Citizens Advice website.


You could get free hours childcare when your child is aged 2 to 4.

Choosing a school

If you are settling in England and have a child aged 5 but under 16 you are required to ensure that they receive a full-time education. You should contact your local council to find state-funded schools in your area and the admissions criteria.

Information on the rights of foreign national children to enter the UK to access a school in England can be found in School admissions: applications for overseas children.

Further education

For more information on further education, which includes any study after secondary education that’s not part of higher education.

Higher education

Information on UK study options and the application process can be accessed via the British Council.


The UK European Network Information Centre (UK ENIC) provides expert advice on behalf of the UK government on the comparability of international qualifications, including those from Hong Kong to UK qualifications. UK ENIC has conducted research into the comparable levels of the years of study that precede the full completion of the HKDSE and are therefore able to issue Statements of Comparability, despite the formal exit qualification not having been completed, to help guide schools and colleges on A level enrolment and 16-19 funding exemptions.

Further education and training for adults

You will be eligible to access further education and training including English language courses funded through the Adult Education Budget (AEB) if you meet the published residency eligibility criteria including the 3 years ordinary residency requirement. The AEB funding rules set out the general eligibility and residency criteria. Education and training will either be fully funded or co-funded (approximate 50% government contribution) depending upon your age, prior attainment and circumstances.

Help to learn English

Privately run English language courses if you are wishing to pay a fee can be accessed via the British Council.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

The UK government’s COVID-19 advice webpage has information about the vaccination programme, and how to report symptoms and how to self-isolate at home. It also outlines the rules in place about what you can do during the coronavirus pandemic, and guidance on social distancing.

If you are arriving in the UK from a ‘Red list’ country, you must quarantine in a government approved hotel for ten days on arrival.

Booking a coronavirus vaccination

Information on how to book a coronavirus vaccination. The vaccine will be offered and made available to everyone living in the UK free of charge. You do not need to be registered at a GP surgery or have an NHS number to receive the vaccine.

How to register with a General Practitioner (GP)

Anyone can register with a GP (doctor’s) surgery. You do not need proof of address or immigration status.

Victim of crime

To report a crime to the police, you should call 101, or 999 in an emergency. Get free support and advice if you have been the victim of crime. You should report any incidences of hate crime and Covid-related hate crime.

The devolved administrations

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists of England, ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland. Information on services may be different depending on which country of the UK you live in.

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