If you’ve been living abroad as an expat for a while and are considering a permanent return to the UK there are a number of things you’ll need to sort out. Some are obvious, such as finding a place to live or changing your mobile phone contract, but there are other things that you could be unaware of or might have forgotten.
Below, we list a few of the things that you need to bear in mind when planning the move and add in a bit of advice to make your transition back to UK living as smooth as possible. We make the assumption that you have the right to settle in the UK without needing a visa, but if you’re unsure about this then it is important you check with the Home Office before making further plans.
Yes, that’s right, moving to another country – even if it’s your own – means a number of bureaucratic steps will need to be taken if the move is to be smooth. These include:
Residential status. If you are moving back to the UK permanently you will need to confirm your residential status. This is important as it means you will be eligible for NHS treatment and other benefits. If you are a UK citizen, then there’s nothing you need to do other than enrol on the electoral register. However, if you have been granted residency or permanent citizenship abroad, you’ll likely need to de-register with the relevant authorities there.
Contact the tax authorities. It’s important to let HM Revenue & Customs know you are living back in the UK so that you are given the correct tax code. If your tax affairs are more complicated, for example if you are still earning income abroad or have offshore investments, then it is a wise idea to get guidance from a tax advisor.
Banking and money. If you already have a UK bank account, then all you need to do is inform them of your change of address. If, however, you closed your account or need to open a new one then make sure you shop around to get the best account for your needs. Perhaps you still have financial commitments abroad? If this is the case then also open an account with a currency provider who can transfer your money abroad with minimum hassle and at competitive exchange rates.
Healthcare. Of course, the UK has the NHS, which is free at the point of service, so you won’t need to organise anything beyond being able to prove that you have residential status in the UK. That said, make sure you bring a copy of your health records from your registered GP abroad, or at least make sure you have their address and contact details to pass onto your new GP. If you have only been abroad for less than six years, your UK health records will still be available to your GP as they are centrally stored. Don’t forget to register with a dentist, too.
Schools. If you have school-age children you’ll need to contact your Local Education Authority (LEA) and find out which schools have places. Children can enrol in a school at any point in the year, but it is better that they start at the beginning of a term if possible.
Driving. The rules surrounding whether you can drive on British roads using a driving licence issued abroad are somewhat complex if you are planning on staying in the UK. However, if you passed your test in the UK and currently have an EU driving license it is a simple exercise to swap it for a UK one. The full rules on this can be found at www.gov.uk/driving-nongb-licence.
Setting up Council Tax payments. Unless you are in full time education, you’ll have to pay council tax to the local authority. To register for this, just contact your local council and they will send you a form.
Pension. If you are of pre-pensionable age, check up on your entitlement to a state pension by visiting www.gov.uk/check-state-pension. You will need your National Insurance number to check whether you have missed any annual contributions.
Returning home to the UK and leaving your furry friend(s) behind is unthinkable for most people, so you’ll need to make arrangements so they can accompany you. For most people, this means a dog or a cat.
In most cases it is a straightforward case of getting your pet microchipped and vaccinated against a range of conditions, including rabies. Dogs must also have tapeworm treatment and the rabies treatment must be given at least 21 days before travel. All of this information will be recorded in a pet passport or certificate issued to each animal by a vet certified by the relevant animal health authority in the country you are travelling from. If the information is amiss, or a vaccination is missed out, your pet may be placed into quarantine for up to four months.
It is important to note that if you are travelling from the EU, the UK government recommends that you begin this process AT LEAST FOUR MONTHS before January 1, 2021 i.e. now.
Getting ready to move back to the UK after a period abroad can be as much of a mental and emotional challenge as it is a logistical one. For a start, you’ll need to think carefully about where you want to move to. You may have grown up in a certain town or city, and maybe that’s where all your friends and family live, but remember that things could have changed in the time you’ve been away. Think seriously about whether it’s the old home comforts you want or whether a new start in a different place would be more advantageous for finding employment, getting the best education for your kids or making new friends.
If you have a new job to go to in the UK, or if you are aiming to get your kids in their new school at the start of term, mark this target date in your calendar and then work backwards. There are so many things to sort out when moving countries, such as arranging for international removals, so ensure that everything falls into place in a timely manner. Perhaps you will be renting somewhere to live on your return, in which case you should give yourself at least a week or two to settle in before you start work or your children begin school.
Most of all, be kind to yourself and try not to get too stressed with the move. A relaxed outlook means you are less likely to overlook key steps, so simply trust that everything will work out and turn to friends and family for support if you begin to feel overwhelmed.
One thing you can do to reduce the level of uncertainty surrounding the move is to use the services of a currency provider such as Currency Solutions. This is especially important if you are selling your foreign property and need to buy somewhere in the UK. Using a currency provider is straightforward and it can save you money on your transfers.
So, if you’re planning on making the move back to the UK after living for a period abroad, get in touch and we’ll tell you how we can help out with your foreign currency transfers. Welcome home!
Please note, this article is for general interest only. To the best of our knowledge the information presented was correct at the time of publishing, however rules and procedures can and do change. Currency Solutions advises that you always check with the relevant authorities and organisations for the most up-to-date information before committing to moving back to the UK.
Opening an account with Currency Solutions is completely free and you’ll be able to make currency transfers anytime at our excellent exchange rates.
We appreciate that navigating the currency market can be daunting! So, a dedicated account manager will always be on hand to offer guidance.