Last updated: 3 November 2023
Next review: 3 November 2024
Get help with English
The UK's national language is English.
Learning or getting better at English will help you settle in and make the most of what life in Waltham Forest has to offer.
There are lots of ways you can get help with your English in Waltham Forest, including classes for complete beginners and most of this help is free.
If you or someone you know needs help with speaking or understanding English
Get a National Insurance number
If you want to work, claim benefits or apply for a student loan in the UK you must have a National Insurance number.
British citizens get a National Insurance number automatically, but if you have moved here from another country you’ll need to apply.
- Apply for a National Insurance through GOV.UK
- Phone 0800 141 2075 between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday
To get a National Insurance number you must be living in the UK and have the right to work or study here.
- Read GOV.uk's advice on proving your right to work in the UK
- Check through GOV.uk if you need a visa to work in the UK
Set up a bank account
If you are being paid for the work you’re doing or are claiming benefits, you’ll need a UK bank account.
As well as putting money in, you can use a bank account to pay bills or keep track of how much money you have.
There are many different types of bank accounts.
The UK has lots of different banks, some you can visit on the high street and some that only offer services online.
For help with managing your money, or if you are having money problems
Contact the police, ambulance or fire service
There are three main emergency services in the UK
It’s free to contact them, but you must only do this in a real emergency or when someone’s life is in danger.
To contact the police, fire or ambulance service
- dial 999 or 112 and say which service you need
They will want to know your name, where you are and what is happening.
The UK also has
- emergency mountain rescue
- cave rescue
- coastguard and lifeboat services
which you can also contact on 999 or 112.
If you need medical help quickly but it’s not an emergency
- call 111
If you want to contact the police but it’s not an emergency
- call 101
Find a gas, electricity or water supplier
When you move into a property in the UK, it will usually already have gas or electricity, or sometimes both.
If your home doesn’t have a gas or electricity supply
Companies supplying gas and electricity in Waltham Forest include British Gas, EDF Energy and E.ON.
You can always change your gas or electricity supplier
All households in the UK have a water supply.
You can’t change your water supplier, but you can find out who they are
Get a phone, TV or broadband connection
Most properties in the UK are connected to the telephone this is called a landline.
There are many mobile phone companies here in the UK from you to choose from, independent comparison sites make is easier than ever to research what deals are best for you.
There are many ways to watch television (TV) programmes in the UK.
To watch TV on one of the satellite channels, like Sky, Virgin Media or BT you will need to pay.
You may also want to set up a broadband connection
Most companies offer combined TV and broadband packages and it is worth looking around to find the best one for you.
If you need any help with choosing a phone, TV or broadband company, or are having problems
By law, you must have a TV Licence if you watch or record programmes on a TV, computer or other device while they are being shown.
You must also get a TV Licence if you plan watch or record live TV online, on any device or channel or download on platforms such as BBC programmes on iPlayer
You do not need a TV Licence for online services like Amazon Prime, Netflix or Now TV.
Most people have to pay for their TV Licence, but there are some exceptions.
Drive a vehicle
In the UK all vehicles must be taxed, insured and have a valid MOT.
To drive a vehicle you must have a drivers licence and there are different qualifications for cars, vans, motorbikes and lorries.
If you have a full, valid licence from another country you can drive in the UK for a year.
You will then need to apply for a UK driving licence.
- Find out more about taxing or insuring a vehicle or checking whether it has a valid MOT through GOV.UK
Find a school
Education is free in the UK and by law all children must go to school from the age of 4 or 5 until they are 16.
Children between the ages of 16 and 18 must either be at school, doing some kind of training, or have a job.
Schools in Waltham Forest are generally of a high standard.
- Find more information on sending your children to school in the UK and to find schools and colleges near you
If your child is between 16 and 18 and isn’t at school, training or work, you can get help and advice
- Email email@example.com
- Call 020 8496 1920
Become a British citizen
If you decide you want to become a British citizen there are different ways to apply, depending on your circumstances.
- Read Citizens Advice on preparing to apply for citizenship
- Find out if you are eligible to become a British citizen
If your application is successful, you’ll need to attend a citizenship ceremony, which will take place here in Waltham Forest.
For general advice on immigration issues, including visa applications and asylum or refugee claims
Have your say
There are lots of ways to have your say on what happens in the UK, London and Waltham Forest.
Every area has an MP, chosen by local people to represent them in the UK Parliament.
You must be registered to vote if you want to choose your MP.
At the moment, the UK is a member of the European Parliament. If you are registered to vote you can choose the Member of European Parliament (MEP) for your area.
The Greater London Authority (GLA) controls things that affect the whole of London such as transport. GLA members are also chosen by local people.
The UK is divided up into areas called local authorities, or councils.
Your council is Waltham Forest Council.
Councils are responsible for local services like schools, roads, housing, parks and libraries.
If you are registered for Council Tax you can vote in local elections to choose the people who represent you at the council, called councillors.