Relocating overseas: How to prepare for your move

Our guide covers everything you need to know to make the first steps in relocating overseas.

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Are you thinking about moving overseas? If you are, you’re not alone. It’s estimated over 5 million Brits born in the UK are now living abroad. Some are seeking affordable retirement, some are seeking a new adventure, and others are embarking on a new job opportunity.

Whatever the reason for your move, it can seem a complicated and daunting process. With the help of this guide, we’ll make sure that you’re armed with all of the knowledge you need to make your move a success.

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Before making any move, you’ll need to first secure a UK passport and a visa from the country you’re moving to. You’ll also need to file paperwork telling the UK authorities about your move (to clarify tax, benefits, pension and voting arrangements).

Passport. UK citizens must carry and present their passport when leaving and entering the UK. You’ll need to ensure your passport is valid for the entire time that you intend to live abroad. It takes the government approximately 6 weeks to process your passport request, so don’t make any plans until this has been sorted!

Visas and Work Permits. You’ll need to obtain a visa from the country that you intend to move to. Visa eligibility varies from country to country. A visa that allows you to take up residence in that country doesn’t necessarily grant you permission to work in the country. Some countries require a special visa to work or a work permit. So it is important that you explore the rules and requirements for the country that you you wish to relocate to. Your pets also need to have proper documentation.

Government Offices. You need to tell the relevant government offices that deal with benefits (if you receive any), pension and tax that you’re moving or retiring abroad. The sort of paperwork required can be quite extensive, ranging from P45 forms from your employer, to bank statements.

Further paperwork might also be needed if officials of the country you’re moving to requires it. All information relating to these areas can be found on the UK government website here:

Things to double check when making plans

Make sure you do your research

Many people making the change from living in Britain to living abroad come up against unexpected cultural differences, entry requirements, or unforeseen health considerations – so you need to do your homework.

The UK Government website is a good place to start. On there you can find a useful page listing the fundamental factors you need to know about before relocating overseas.

Things to consider:

    • entry requirements
    • local laws and customs
    • security status
    • terrorism threats
    • natural disasters
    • necessary vaccinations and health considerations
    • access to money

Citizenship and your rights and obligations after relocating

Dual nationality

Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This means you can be a British citizen while also being a citizen of other countries.

You don’t need to apply for dual citizenship. You can apply for foreign citizenship and your British citizenship will remain unaffected.

Many countries don’t accept dual citizenship, so you will need to do some research about the country’s laws on it. You can do that easily enough online, or alternatively speak to someone at a foreign embassy or consulate in the UK.

It is also worth noting that there has been no change to the rights and status of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, as a result of the British referendum to leave the EU. (It would be a good idea to keep up to date with information regarding this, in case there are any changes).

Relocating overseas and voting

You can register as an overseas voter for up to 15 years after leaving the UK; just as long as you’re a British citizen; and you were registered to vote in the UK within the previous 15 years (this doesn’t apply if you were too young to have registered when you left the UK)

Just register to vote in the normal way through the UK Government’s website.

Relocating overseas and paying taxes

You’ll need to notify HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) before you make the move abroad – that applies if you’re planning on making the move for just one tax year (6th of April to the 5th of April), or if it’s going to be a permanent move.

You can do this by filling in a P85 form, which may require your P45 form from your employer.

If you’re non-UK resident, you won’t have to pay UK tax on income or gains you get outside the UK. This could well be the case from the day you leave the UK. If, however, you have income in the UK, you may need to pay tax despite being a non-UK resident (e.g. if you received income from renting a property in the UK).

National Insurance and Health Considerations

National Insurance. You might want to carry on paying National Insurance while you’re abroad if you’re planning to come back to the UK or planning on claiming a State Pension. You can’t claim back any National Insurance when you leave.

In addition to this, anything you’ve paid might count towards benefits in the country you’re moving to if it has a ‘bilateral Social Security agreement’ with the UK. (Such countries include: Barbados, Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Guernsey, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, Mauritius, Montenegro, New Zealand, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Serbia, Turkey, USA.)

The NHS. You will not be covered for healthcare paid for by the UK if you are going to live permanently outside the European Economic Area (EEA). If at any time in the future you want to come back to England for planned treatment, further information about accessing healthcare services can be found on the Visiting or Moving to England pages.

Life insurance. Before moving abroad, you should determine whether their life insurance policies will travel with them. If not, serious consideration might be given to purchasing a new life plan. If you don’t have cover in force before exiting the UK purchasing one might be a smart investment.

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