Leaving the UK: What You Should Know
Leaving the UK can be an exciting time, with the prospect of living in a new country and the new adventures this will bring. However, there can also be a lot to organise and manage when you move abroad. Below, we look into what you can do before you leave and who you should inform to make the process as straightforward as possible.
What should you do before you leave the UK?
Research visa requirements
You should look into the visa requirements for your destination country. Different locations will have different conditions for foreign people to live and work there, and some countries will take longer than others to process visa applications. You should look into your chosen country’s requirements in good time, so you can submit your application, and have it approved before you need to move or start working.
Arrange shipping for your possessions
You should consider what will be moving with you to the new location. You may wish to take a lot of your personal possessions overseas with you, especially if you are planning on a permanent move. Alternatively, you may prefer to start anew with new furniture when you arrive at your new home.
If you’ll be moving your items with you, speak to a few different shipping companies to find a reliable service. You might also want to consider using storage if there are items that you want to keep but do not want to ship overseas.
Lastly, you will need to consider whether your pets will be coming with you. Some countries do not allow certain animals to be imported, and others will require your pet to stay in quarantine for a period of time. Not all pets and breeds will be suited to travel, so it may be kinder to leave them with a trusted loved one back home.
Consider health insurance
Various countries have different healthcare systems. Some have public healthcare whilst others do not. Some countries do not allow foreign citizens to use public healthcare, and others may require extra fees to be paid. You should look at the healthcare system of your new country and decide whether you would prefer private international health insurance for you and your family. This can often guarantee access to the best facilities and avoid lengthy wait times that can occur in public healthcare.
Investigate education options
If you have children, you should investigate schools in good time. You will need to consider whether you will be sending your child to a local school, where the curriculum will be taught in the local language, or an international school, which could teach in your native language. You should bear in mind that good schools will be popular, so you may need to apply in advance to secure a place for your child.
Plan your pension contributions
If you pay into a pension, these contributions will probably stop when you move abroad, unless you are staying with your UK-based employer. Some overseas employers may offer an alternative saving scheme that you could use in place of a pension, but you should be aware that these do not always have similar tax-saving benefits that come with the UK workplace pension scheme. You should consider what you would like to do with regards to saving for a pension if you want to ensure you can continue making contributions.
Gather necessary documents
Before you leave the UK, you should take some time to gather all your essential documents, such as your ID, any qualifications you have, and any accommodation or job references you might need when you move. You should check that documents like your passport and driving licence are valid and in date – remember that some countries require you to have three-six months left on your passport to get a visa approved. Keep everything together in a file or box so it can be easily accessed when you need them. You might also want to take copies and store them securely online so you can access them when you’re out and about too, in case you need to refer to any of the information.
Who should you inform when leaving the UK?
You will need to tell the tax office that you’re moving abroad if you will be leaving the UK for at least one full tax year (from 6 April to 5 April the next year). They will be able to calculate if you owe any tax or if you will be due a refund. They will also let you know if you will need to continue paying tax – you can continue paying National Insurance if you are planning on returning to the UK or if you plan to claim a State Pension in the future.
You should let your GP surgery and dentist surgery know that you will be leaving the UK and will no longer be using their services.
You should let your local council know that you will be moving and give them a forwarding address.
You will need to provide your utility providers with final readings and close down the accounts. You should make sure they have an email address or telephone number to contact you in case there are any issues with your final bill.
You will need to decide whether you want to keep your UK bank account as an expat. It can be beneficial to keep a UK bank account if you want to receive a pension or if you intend to move back to the UK at some point in the future. You should let your bank know that you will be moving overseas. Sometimes you may need to appoint someone who you trust and that is based in the UK to manage the account on your behalf, as some banks require the user to have a UK address.
It is also good to open a local bank account in your new country, to make finances easier there and avoid any extra fees that can come with using a foreign account.
If you claim benefits, you should let the relevant benefits offices know that you will be leaving the UK. In some circumstances, you may be able to continue to claim benefits when you are living overseas, for example, if you’re moving to a country in the EEA or to a country that has a specific agreement with the UK.
You will need to inform the Student Loans Company if you have a student loan that you are paying off and plan to move abroad. If you obtain employment in your new country, the SLC may arrange a Direct Debit with you to repay the loan based on your earnings. Read our guide on moving abroad with a student loan for more info.
If you claim a pension, you will need to let the International Pension Centre know that you will be moving abroad. They will be able to ensure you can continue to receive your pension payments when you are overseas.