Moving abroad can be daunting, so we’ve created this moving abroad checklist to help simplify the process and reduce the stress.
We created our moving abroad checklist primarily for people who are considering leaving the UK covering everything that you need to do before you move and also important factors to consider in your first few months once you’ve moved abroad.
“At a glance” checklist
The following is a very brief moving abroad checklist which provides you with the key considerations and plans you will need to establish before you move abroad:
- Know your visa requirements of your new country of residence
- Decide whether you should rent or purchase a property
- Make initial plans to settle in to your new country of residence, including local community activities to get to know people
- Get to know your tax requirements for your home country when you live abroad
- Make sure you meet your tax obligations of your new country of residence
- Decide what to do about your property in your home country
- Make plans for relocating pets
- Start to work out which objects to put in storage and which to transport abroad
- Choose an international moving company
- Sort out your insurance requirements (home, travel, life and car) and ensure that you comply with the rules of any existing policies
- Establish any driving requirements, including licenses and tests you may have to take
- Know what financial planning options you have and sort out your bank accounts
- Make a list of known utility bills and make plans for turning them off
- Sort out a mobile phone, landline and internet provider before you move
- Tell the authorities in your home country and your country of residence
Plan to settle in
While preparing to move abroad, one of the most important things to consider is how you’re going to settle in once you’ve moved. From setting up utilities to understanding the culture, there is a lot of preparation you can do in advance to help make the transition smoother and ensure you don’t get homesick.
UK tax requirements
Firstly, you need to notify the tax authorities (i.e. HMRC) in the UK that you are planning to leave. If you don’t notify the relevant authorities, you may have to pay additional taxes which, as an expat, you are exempt from.
Get your P85 form from Revenue and Customs, fill it in and return it.
It notifies the tax authorities that you are leaving the country and helps ensure that you’ll be taxed appropriately in each jurisdiction.
If you will be paying tax abroad yet will be continuing to receive interest income from savings in the UK, you should fill out form R105 from HMRC and send it to the financial institutions where your savings are held. Normally tax is deducted from your interest income before you receive it. This form requests that tax not be applied in future because your income will be taxed in your new country instead. If you don’t do this, you may find that this part of your income is taxed twice.
Non resident tax returns: completing a tax return as an expat
Even if you live outside of the UK, you may still be liable for tax in the UK on your income and potentially gains made from the disposal of assets.
This means that you may still have to complete a tax return. Find out what you need to do to complete a tax return as a non-resident.
Capital Gains Tax
If you are keeping property in the UK, it’s important to understand that any future sales as an expat may still incur Capital Gains Tax as the rules for expats are about to change. You may wish to reconsider your options if you are about to move, but before you do ensure you know about Capital Gains Tax rule changes.
Remember that each country has it’s own tax rules, some specific for expats. There can be significant fines or imprisonment to not adhering to local rules and it really isn’t worth risking it as often it’s as simple as making a declaration on your assets.
As always, get advice from a local financial adviser who understands your requirements and can help ensure you don’t fall foul of local laws.
Renting out your home in the UK
If, like many expats, you are planning to rent out your home in the UK, you have a number of decisions to make.
Firstly, you decide how you wish to manage the property, including how you will find and replace tenants, collect rent as well as manage any improvements or repairs on the property. The most common way is to find a letting agent in the UK who will take care of all elements of the management of your property for a fee of between 10% and 15% of the rental income.
You also have tax considerations to make. Your first responsibility is to ensure that the HMRC are aware of your intentions, and you may be able to apply for the Non-Resident Landlord Scheme which could have some significant tax advantages.
As a non-resident, you will need to establish your likely income from rent as this could be subject to UK income tax, even if you are a non-resident for tax purposes.
Don’t forget to find suitable expat landlord insurance which will cover you and your property for every eventuality including contents, accidental/deliberate damage as well as any legal fees.
Finally remember that, if you have a mortgage, you have to inform your mortgage provider to ensure that you do not break the terms of your loan and risk repossession.
For more information about renting out your home in the UK please read our detailed article which will tell you all you need to know.
Taking your pet with you
If you have a pet and would like to take it with you, there are a number of factors you need to consider when moving abroad, and the sooner you can start planning your pet’s relocation, the easier it will be.
Once you know and have confirmed your destination, you will need to get your pet micro-chipped by your vet. Then you will need to have your pet immunised against rabies – at least 21 days before you are due to travel.
You should also seek the help from a professional animal transportation company who can give you the practical advice of transferring your pet.
Finally you need to consider the transportation itself – including the transportation crate, food and water as well as any creature comforts your pet may need.
Medical insurance and health care
Get informed about your short-term eligibility for medical care and social security benefits your destination country.
In Europe your eligibility for medical care should be the same as that of local citizens.
Further afield, while your protections will typically not be as strong, Britain does have special agreements with a number of countries. You should check to see whether the country where you’re going to live is among them. If not, you may need to make arrangements which ensure your health is covered as required.
NHS Choices is an excellent resource for people looking for medical advice, whether in the UK or abroad.
European Health Insurance Card
If you are moving to another area of Europe, you may want to consider applying for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
The EHIC replaced the E111 in 2006 and should assist you with reduced health care costs (in some cases free). It’s valid across the EC including Switzerland and regardless of how long you intend to be abroad, it is highly advisable that you research and apply for one, which you can do via the NHS.
You should note, though, that this is really only designed to cover you for short-term stays. If you’re going to live in a country long-term you must integrate with the local social insurance system, if there is one, or take out private health insurance.
In these circumstances, you should also return your British EHIC card and get one from your new country, if it’s in Europe.
Your current GP or dentists
Let your local GP and dentist know you are leaving. Some medical practitioners send appointment letters without requiring confirmation, and you won’t be there to call it off. You don’t want to waste the time of these much in-demand medical professionals.
Driving and getting around
If you are intending to drive while in your new country of residence, ensure you know the local driving laws and regulations. Aside from ensuring you drive on the right side of the road, there are many customs and laws which you need to be aware of, not least the driving license requirements.
If you are heading outside of Europe, you need to request an International Driving Permit which you can do from the Post Office.
The International Driving Permit as an annual permit which is recognised internationally, and normally allows the holder to drive a a car or other motor vehicle when accompanied with a valid UK driving licence.
It is important that you check with your new country of residence before you travel as you may need to apply for a local driving license as well.
Currency fluctuations and transaction fees can mean that if you earn or spend money, you could be paying unnecessarily. To avoid this you should initially open an international bank account which is specifically designed to assist with the movement of money.
We also believe it is sensible to open a local bank account which helps with day to day banking.
One question we’re regularly asked is whether you should close your UK bank account(s). In our opinion it depends on your circumstances. If you have ongoing transactions in the UK (for example direct debits or income from rent), it would be best to keep the account open. Also consider if you plan to return to the UK, you will need to open a bank account in the future – so it may be just as wise to keep your account open rather than having to open a new one in the future.
You may also be able to open an Expat Bank account. Specifically designed for expats, these accounts allow you to hold money in multiple currencies. Typically, they are accounts which are neither in the UK or in your country of residence and could allow you flexibility to suit your expat status.
If you are planning to retire abroad, your pension is going to be one of your most important factors. There are a number of things to know about Expat Pensions, which we’ve extensively detailed on this site.
If you have pensions other than your State Pension, you should request a Pension Health Check if you’re going abroad long-term or forever and may not return to the UK before you become eligible for your pension. As an Expat, depending on your plans, you may have unique opportunities available to you and an adviser will be able to discuss each of the options enabling you to make a decision.
Other Investments, such as ISAs
If you have an ISA (Individual Savings Account), remember that typically you need to have a permanent UK residential address for tax purposes. If you currently have an ISA and are planning to move abroad, you may not be eligible to carry on paying into it while you’re away. However, there are a number of things you should consider such as whether you want to keep your ISA while you live abroad, payments before you move and whether you are returning to the UK at some point in the future.
If you are serious about moving abroad, you should get professional advice on your options to ensure you continue to get the best return on your investments, both now and in the future.
If you are considering retiring abroad, it is important that you plan your estate and what happens to it when you die. Different countries have different rules when it comes to tax and estate planning. The first step is to create a will. But also seek advice from a financial adviser who will be able to help you manage your estate to ensure you minimise the various tax liabilities, including UK Inheritance Tax.
Utilities and other things not to forget when moving abroad
There are also a few administration items which you need to take care of.
You don’t want to miss important post, so you’ll need to set up a mail redirection at the Post Office as soon as you know where you’ll be living. There are charges to organise this, but the Post Office will redirect your mail for up to twelve months.
Don’t forget to turn the gas off
Let your utility providers know that you are leaving. If you’re keeping your home in Britain and renting it out, you should also let your insurance company know this. Your existing policy may not cover the rental of the home. If you’re still paying a mortgage on the property, you should also let your mortgage provider know.
Let the local authority know that you will be leaving and give them your new address so they can send you your Council Tax bill.
This list should not be considered to by exhaustive, but if there is something listed here that you hadn’t already thought about then hopefully it was of some help to you. There is a lot to think of when you’re planning to go and live or work abroad, and not all of it is obvious.
As with anything, when people move abroad they will often make mistakes. However, most are avoidable. Find out what the most common mistakes British expats make when moving abroad, and avoid making the same mistakes.
Registering to vote
Even as an expat you have an important role to play in the UK voting system. After all UK government policy will still affect you via taxation, immigration policy and foreign affairs. This is even more important if you maintain assets in the UK. Find out about expat voting and how to vote in the UK when you live abroad.