General advice and where to find help in Oxford
In the internet age, we are allegedly at ever-increasing risk of identity theft whenever we leave the house (or more seriously, whenever we use a computer to buy or apply for something). In the absence of the dreaded identity card, the importance of a few official documents when opening new bank accounts, buying a house, proving it's really you and so on can't be underestimated. If you find yourself lacking, have a look below to see where to find what you need:
Registration of Births, Marriages & Deaths. Oxfordshire Registration Service, 1 Tidmarsh Lane Oxford, OX1 1NS. Tel: 0345 241 2489, email: [email protected], website: www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/registration. Records of all births, marriages and deaths in the City of Oxford since 1837 are held here.
National Insurance Number. Vital to getting a legitimate job in the UK. Phone the Department for Work and Pensions’ Helpline on 0845 915 7006 (or 0845 915 5670). They cannot give you a National Insurance number over the phone but they can tell you how to go about getting an interview at one of their offices and what information you will need to identify yourself, etc.
Passport. Application forms are available from most post offices. You can complete part (but not all) of the process online at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-passport-office. If you need a passport renewal in a hurry, you'll have to go in person to the London Passport Office (Globe House, 89 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1PN, 0870 521 0410). Be prepared for a long wait at busy times and for a hefty fee. You can apply for passport renewal up to 9 months before your old one runs out.
Television Licence. Available from any Post Office, or you can sign up to Direct Debit online. Valid for one year. If nobody at your home has registered for one, you are likely to receive ever-increasingly threatening letters stating that you need to do so, until you do, or until you tell them in writing/online that you don't watch TV at the premises. TV licensing carry out spot checks to verify this; you are not legally required to allow them access to your property, but if you do and they find a tv or even a video recorder, you are likely to face a substantial fine. After all - this is what pays for our marvellous BBC, so if you want that and you use it, you should get a licence! FYI:
- if you're poor and a fan of vintage films, a black and white licence is around a third of the cost of a colour one.
- if you stream live television over the internet as it is broadcast and watch it on your computer, you still need a TV licence. If you're only watching I-player or 4oD - ie. anything shown after live broadcast - you don't need one (this was true at 11/11/14, but may change in future).
Driving Licence. Apply online at www.direct.gov.uk/motoring. Alternatively, get an application form from any post office. You will need ID, a cheque book and a recent photo of yourself signed by "a reliable person" who has known you for more than 2 years. The St Aldate's post office operates a system whereby, for a small fee, you can go in and have an official check over your passport and confirm that you're you. This means that you don't have to send your passport away and it also speeds up the DVLA's processing of your application, but you do have to take into consideration the half hour queue in the the oversubscribed St Aldate's post office.
Driving Test. If your driving instructor isn't submitting this for you, you can obtain the application forms from post office. NB: you will be asked to specify your choice of test area. Oxford has two: Headington and Cowley. The Theory Test Centre will not let anyone publish its phone number, but you can book through 0870 600 0067 (Mon - Fri 8am - 6pm) or at www.dvla.gov.uk. You will need your provisional licence number and a valid credit or debit card.
Notary Public. There may come a time in your life when you require the signature of a Notary Public on a legal document - for example, you might be in the course of starting up a Limited Company or something similarly official. Not all Oxford solicitors do this, but here are some that do:
- Marty Burn, Oxford Notary Public based at Oxford Business Park North where there's ample parking, and able to travel to you (flexible hours). Tel. 01865 487136; [email protected]
- Blake Lapthorn Linnell, Seacourt Tower (the building with the spike on it), Botley, west Oxford. Tel. 01865 248607
- Stuart Capel, based at Oxford Business Park South, but who can come to you. His website contains more info about what you might need a Notary Public for. Tel. 01865 781000; [email protected]
- Esmond Jenkins, based at Bampton Law, but who can come to you. His website contains more info about services offered and costs involved. Tel. 01865 807215 or mobile 07890 129 314; [email protected]
- N.E.B. Brown, based at Nicholas E. B. Brown Notary Public, Thame. His website contains more info about services offered. Tel. 07488 275396; [email protected]