Moving anywhere is stressful. Moving abroad is tough, but returning home again can prove to be a difficult process.
There’s a lot to think about when returning to the UK after living abroad, from taxes to housing. To try and help, we’ve put together a checklist to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.
So, if you’re moving back to the UK, here’s what to do.
Sort out your housing situation
Returning to the UK? Ensure you’ve worked out where you’re living.
If you’re selling your current home, make sure you do it long before you leave the country, so that you have no loose ends to tie up at the last minute. These things always take longer than anticipated. Make arrangements to ship your belongings home, and have somewhere to store them when they get there. Be prepared that shipping may take longer than you think.
Once you've moved back to the UK, you will most likely move into temporary accommodation, unless you have a house waiting for you. If not, consider a short-term let, or ask friends and family to house you.
If you’re looking to buy a house in the UK, consider renting first, as buying somewhere without doing your research could prove to be a very costly mistake.
If you do decide to buy, research the area using a property report. This can tell you everything you need to know about an area (such as crime rates, house prices, schools, as well as any local planning permissions).
Remember your health care
If you’re moving back to the UK after living abroad, don’t forget about your healthcare.
Let your local doctor and dentist know that you are moving back to the UK and that you will no longer be needing their services. If they can, ask them to transfer your medical notes to your preferred surgery of choice back in the UK. This will mean you have to register somewhere first, however.
If not, ask for a print out (and keep an e-copy just in case things get lost in the move), so you can hand the notes to your doctor when you register with a new practice on your return to the UK.
Get your finances in order
Once back in the UK, ensure that you are all set up with HMRC. This will mean you’re able to collect any benefits owed to you, for example, or to resume paying anything that has been neglected in your absence, such as your National Insurance contributions.
For a British citizen returning to the UK, the financial considerations include:
Get your taxes right
Make sure you pay any tax you owe in the country you're currently in, before leaving. You don't want to leave with any monies owing.
Make sure you speak to HMRC as soon as you can, to let them know what your work status is so that they can advise you on what tax you owe, if any, and to assist you with any tax queries you may have on returning to the UK.
Sort out your pension
If you have been paying into a pension while you have been abroad, speak to the Department for Work and Pension about transferring your overseas pension back to the UK.
They should also advise you on what benefits are available to you if any, and what contributions you might be required to make, to top up your state pension. While this may seem like a lot of hassle, not doing this could cause problems/delays to any pension benefits you are due when you retire.
Contact HMRC to obtain a national insurance number, if you don’t already have one.
Also, ask them if you need to top up any contributions, so you don’t get penalised for any benefits that you may wish to collect in the future, i.e. maternity allowance, child benefits, or your state pension.
Set up your bank account
If you still have a UK bank account, it’s easy enough to transfer your money from an overseas account.
Alternatively, you may wish to have a multi-currency account (available from your UK bank or another provider), so you can easily pay any outstanding bills that crop up after you have moved back to the UK.
Forward your mail to the UK
Don’t forget to let everyone know of your new address – if you don’t yet have one, you can rent a PO Box for incoming mail to be redirected to. The Royal Mail can redirect mail from most UK addresses to another (if you still are receiving UK mail while abroad).
Speak to your local post office (where you are now) and ask about redirection services available from them too.
Register your car
If you’re bringing your car with you from overseas, don’t forget to register it with the DVLA.
You’ll also need to change your motor insurance, so make sure you have written evidence from your current insurer as to how many years’ no claims bonus you have etc.
If you are driving on a non-UK driving license, then don’t forget to exchange it for a UK driving license.
Relocate your pets
Depending on where you are travelling from, there are a number of services that help with relocating your pet.
Make sure you investigate before you travel, to find out what you need to do for your pet to be allowed to enter the UK. For example, dogs must have a microchip.
Check that all their vaccinations are up to date and discuss any health and travel concerns with your vet.
Notify schools of your move
When returning to the UK, ensure your children’s schools are notified.
Before leaving, make sure you notify the local school and official school authorities that you’re returning home. Ensure you provide a forwarding address and that you’ve closed any administrative business.
As soon as you know where you will be living in the UK, you’ll need to apply to the relevant schools in the area. Bear in mind that your first choice of school may not be available.
For younger children, you may need to arrange childcare when in the UK. Ask for recommendations from local primary schools, friends, or look online.
If you’re returning to the UK after living abroad, ensure you research the area you’re moving to. Phil Spencer's Property Report can tell you everything you need to know, with information on everything from local schools to crime rates. Get your full report here!