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Registering with local authorities

 
In most of the UK there is a two tier local government: county councils and district councils.  In addition, there is also a parish or town council. This can help on a number of local issues. Many town and parish councils also run local services such as sports grounds and community halls.

In larger cities the system works differently. These are normally divided into areas where there is just one local council providing all the functions.

Local councils are run by elected councillors. They are responsible for making decisions about local services, for example, the use of land, the collection of rubbish and the set-up and management of leisure facilities.

As soon as expatriates have either rented or bought a property in the UK, they will need to register with the local authority (the Council). The estate agent will be able to advise expatriates the name of their local authority. The formalities are usually fairly simple. Several councils allow expatriates to register via their website or via phone. In some cases expatriates will need to go to their offices and fill in a form.

When expatriates register with the local authority, they will be entered onto the electoral register. This will be needed if you intend to vote for local, national and EU elections (your entitlement will vary according to your nationality).

 
Council Tax
 
Once expatriates have registered with the local authority, they will receive a “council tax bill”. Council Tax applies to all domestic properties (houses, flats, maisonettes, bungalows, mobile homes and houseboats), whether you own it or rent it. The payment of Council Tax goes towards local services, for example, policing and rubbish collection.

Your local authority assigns to your property a 'valuation band' which determines how much Council Tax you will have to pay. It is therefore very easy for expatriates to verify, before renting or buying your property, the amount of Council Tax they will need to pay.

How much Council Tax you will need to pay depends on your property band and your local council. In fact, each council sets its own Council Tax rates and these may vary significantly from one area to another.

There is one Council Tax bill for each home and normally it is the person living in the property who has to pay the bill (not the owner). If the property is occupied by more than one person, all occupiers are responsible for paying the bill.

There are exemptions and discounts available (empty property, single occupier, disability, students, etc.). So it is always a good idea to verify with your Council if you qualify.

Expatriates moving home will need to inform their local authority. This is in order to avoid paying too much Council Tax for your old home. When you move, inform your council of the date you're moving out, so that they can adjust the bill for your old home or issue you with a refund. Expatriates moving to an area under a different council will need to inform their new council when they are moving in, so that the new council can start a new bill from the right date.

 
 
 
 
 
 
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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 02.10.2010
 
 
Expats Plaza is the website for the Expatriates living in the UK