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Things to do before you move

 
 

Planning your move is essential. It is important that future expatriates have a good understanding of the implications linked to moving outside their home country. It is also likely that, as an expatriate, you will need to follow certain procedures and/or inform various authorities and public offices about your move.

 

If you are visiting this website as part of planning your move to the UK, you are already on the right track. The following points are things you should consider to do before you move. Many of these points are also discussed further in the “Living in the UK” section of this website for expatriates.

 

The following “checklist” is a generic suggestion of the most common things to do before you move. You should remember that this is not country specific (i.e. the country you move from) and that your personal circumstances might require additional steps or actions. Remember that if you are unsure about something, the best course of action is always to get professional advice. This will avoid any nasty surprises.

 
 

Your new address abroad

 

An important thing to do before you move is to communicate your new forwarding address to your home country authorities, utility companies, insurance provider, bank, mortgage provider, pension providers, former employers, local authorities, etc. or any other party that may still need to communicate with you once you have moved to the UK.
 
There are also companies offering dedicated mail forwarding services for expatriates, whereby you are assigned a local address in your home country where post can be sent to and then forwarded to your new address abroad. 

 

 

Your identity

 

When you move abroad you are likely to need some form of proof of identity and certificates proving your personal circumstances (marriage, birth, etc.). Before you move make sure you have a copy of such certificates and updated proof of identity.

 
 

Your visa

 

Investigate if you need a visa to enter and work in the UK. It is very important that you do this in the early stage of planning to become an expatriate. Remember that this might require a considerable amount of time to sort out and is one of the most important things to do before you move.

 

Generally speaking if you are an expatriate from the EU, visas will not represent an issue for you.

 

This point is also discussed further in the “Working and Living in the UK” section of this website for expatriates.

 
 

Your children’s education

 

This is probably the most important thing to do before you move. Find out beforehand how the UK education system will fit with your children’s requirements. It is important to understand how the UK system works and the steps you need to take so that your children can successfully become part of it.

 

For expatriates planning to spend only a few years in the UK, international schools might be an option to explore. Some of these have mother tongue programmes. Find out in your home country what will happen once you go back after a few years. Will your children be able to resume their studies at their appropriate age group when they return or will the difference in curriculum be an obstacle to this?

 

It is important to plan ahead in order to avoid disappointment.

This point is also discussed further in the “Education and Living in the UK section of this website for expatriates.
 
 

Your house

 

Before you move, decide what you want to do with your house. According to your circumstances, you may want to keep it or sell it. If you decide to keep it you might want to consider renting it out. This should allow you to have some income to go towards mortgage payments (if you have a mortgage). It might be an advantage for you to own a property in your home country in case you find out that life in the UK is not a good choice for you and you want to go back. On the other hand, you should also consider that owning a property in your home country while you are abroad might be a challenge every time something needs to be sorted out (make sure you appoint a property manager or have friends and relatives prepared to look after the property for you).

 

Keeping or selling your house will most certainly have some implications of a tax and legal nature. Make sure you get the necessary advice from professionals in order to avoid any nasty surprises.

 

This point is also discussed further in the “Housing and Living in the UK section of this website for expatriates.

 
 

Your money

 

Make sure you understand the implications of moving abroad. Whilst living in the UK you will normally earn and spend GBP.

 

Your current savings will most probably be held in another currency (EUR, USD, JPY, CHF, etc.). You might want to consider converting some of your savings into GBP in order to have some liquidity to start with once you move to the UK. How much of your savings should be converted into GBP is something very subjective and it should be carefully considered, based on your personal circumstances and the length of time you are planning to stay in the UK. The most obvious point you will need to take into account is that the exchange rate between GBP and your home country currency will fluctuate over time. You should ask a foreign exchange specialist, your bank or a financial adviser to assist you if you are not sure about this point.

 

It is normally a good idea to maintain a bank account in your home country and to open, as soon as possible, a bank account in the UK (possibly even before you move to the UK). Nowadays internet banking is widely available and this will allow an expatriate to easily manage your bank accounts also while abroad.

 

A bank account in your home country will allow you to make and receive payments and to withdraw cash when you travel back. A bank account in the UK will allow you the same services while you are in the UK. It is important that you ask, as soon as possible, your UK bank to issue a debit card for you. These cards are widely utilised in the UK to purchase goods and services even of very small value.

 

Remember that holding a bank account in your home country while living as an expatriate in the UK will most certainly have some implications of a tax nature. Make sure you get the necessary professional tax advice in order to avoid any nasty surprises.

 

You should also budget for your financial needs for the first few months after you will arrive in the UK and make sure you have enough money to support yourself  and your family during the initial period. It is likely that the UK, especially London, will be more expensive than your home country and that the simple fact of moving will attract additional costs soon after your arrival (hotels, various set-up fees, initial works at your new house, taxes, etc.).  Good budgeting will definitely make the difference towards your easy settlement in the UK as an expatriate.

 

This point is also discussed further in the “Banking and Living in the UK and "Foreign Exchange and Living in the UK" sections of this website for expatriates.

 
 

Your pension

 

Before you move, check carefully what impact this might have on your pension arrangements. Investigate if your country has some agreement with the UK in respect of pension matters. Some countries have agreements with the UK whereby both periods worked outside and inside the UK will count as qualifying years to obtain a state pension (this is noticeably the case within the EU).

 

As far as private/additional pensions are concerned, it is often possible to move your pension value between providers across countries. You will need to investigate this with your pension provider and decide whether moving your pension fund to a UK based provider is the best solution for your personal circumstances.

 

Remember that any action you may take is likely to affect your pension value and also to have tax implications.  Your pension is one of your most important assets and it is therefore recommended to take professional advice in order to identify the best option(s) for you.

 

This point is also discussed further in the “Pensions and Living in the UK section of this website for expatriates.

 
 

Your taxes

 

One certain thing is that the tax authorities in your home country will want to know your whereabouts and, if possible, tax your income. A considerable number of tax authorities tax the worldwide income of their citizens.  

 

It is important that you fully understand the tax rules applicable to you in your home country while you live in the UK as an expatriate.

 

Most countries have very specific rules to assess expatriates' tax residency status (in some cases these are based on the number of days spent in the country over a tax year, in some other cases on your family and financial ties to the country, in some cases on both or other parameters). Make sure you understand the applicable rules and, if in doubt, seek professional advice on this matter.

 

This is an important thing to do before you move. Knowing the tax rules applicable to you beforehand will help you in planning the move in the most tax efficient way.

 

This point is also discussed further in the “Tax and Living in the UK section of this website for expatriates.

 

 

Your health insurance

 

If you have health insurance in your home country, find out - before you move - the implications that moving to the UK will have on your cover. Some insurance companies will not cover someone who becomes a foreign resident. Some others will have ad-hoc plans for expatriates.

 

Some expatriates feel more comfortable if certain health conditions are treated back in their own country (not least being able to communicate in their mother tongue with medical personnel). If this applies to you, make sure that your insurance will cover this.

 

Dedicated plans for expatriates do exist. Talk to your insurance company and, if in doubt, seek professional advice on this matter.  

 
 

This point is also discussed further in the “Insurance and Living in the UK section of this website for expatriates.

 
 

Your car

 

If you own a car, or other vehicle, you will need to evaluate, before you move, if it makes sense to pay the costs to import it to the UK, or if it financially makes more sense to sell it in your home country and buy a new one in the UK.

 

In the UK you will drive on the left hand side of the road. This means that the controls of the car are, normally, on the right side of the car.

 

Generally speaking, if you are planning to stay in the UK for a few years, it normally makes sense to sell your car in your home country and buy another in the UK. There are a lot of UK online brokers and used car websites that will help expatriates find out prices and calculate what is more convenient for you.

 

This point is also discussed further in the “Driving and Living in the UK section of this website for expatriates.

 
 

Your furniture

 

Moving your furniture is going to be a considerable cost. Find out how much an international mover is going to charge you for this.

 

Generally speaking if you are relocating across continents, it might be far cheaper to sell your furniture in your home country and buy new furniture in the UK (or rent furnished accommodation).

 

Before you move, do your maths and see what the cheaper option for you is while living as an expatriate in the UK.

 
 

Your pets

 

Before you move, make sure you find out the procedure that you need to follow to take your pet abroad with you. Allow plenty of time to avoid disappointment.

This point is also discussed further in the “Pets and Living in the UK section of this website for expatriates.

 
 

Your language skills

 

If you are not proficient in English, you should attend English language courses in your home country before you move. You might find this very useful once you are in the UK to help you in your everyday routines.

 

This point is also discussed further in the “Language and Living in the UK section of this website for expatriates.

 
 

Your travelling arrangements

 

Most flights to the UK are relatively cheap if booked well in advance. If you can, try to plan the date of your move and reserve your means of transport in advance.
 
This point is also discussed further in the “Transportation and Living in the UK section of this website for expatriates.
 
 
Your accommodation in the UK

 

Plan in advance where you are going to stay during the first period after your arrival in the UK, while searching for your permanent accommodation. The internet will greatly assist you in this task. Remember that temporary accommodation in the UK tends to be expensive. Therefore planning ahead, before you move, might save you a considerable amount of money.

 

This point is also discussed further in the “Serviced Apartments and Living in the UK” section of this website for expatriates.

 
 
 
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All the information on Expats Plaza is free to view. If after having reviewed the information on Expats Plaza you believe this has been useful to you, please visit the Support Us page.
 
 
This page was last updated on 25.03.2011
 
 
 
Expats Plaza is the website for the Expatriates living in the UK