Returning to the UK can be an option following changes in your personal life or career. If you are considering a move it’s crucial to plan ahead and understand the key financial considerations which may affect you. This can seem less important when you are dealing with the logistics and practicalities of a move, but returning to the UK can expose you to a significant amount of tax, so it’s important to protect yourself.
Planning your return to the UK
When planning you’ll need to consider some key questions. Making a move is a significant step and you’ll need to be sure you want to return to the UK. Consider your personal circumstances, the needs of your family and career, and identify the right time for your move from a personal and financial perspective. It can also be useful to take some time to catch up on current UK affairs ahead of any return.
Managing your finances
In general there are some useful financial considerations to bear in mind when you start to plan a move:
- Ensure you have a UK bank account
If you’ve kept a UK bank account whilst overseas it will hopefully help your credit rating. If you don’t have one then setting up an account, ideally a year or so before your return, will help practically and will improve your credit rating.
- Seek expat tax advice
Moving back to the UK will expose you to UK tax, which is determined by your residence status. Understanding the date you become UK resident is important, especially following recent tax changes. This date may be different to your actual date of moving so it’s important to be aware of the consequences. For example, if you are spending ad-hoc time in the UK as part of a move to a new job you may qualify for UK residency before you actually move. In addition, moving partway through the financial year may impact on the tax charged on any investments you hold and plan to sell at a later date.
- Understand your pension
As part of your time overseas you may have built one or more overseas pensions, and hold a UK pension too. It’s important to understand what your pension portfolio consists of, so that you can make sensible decisions about your options.
- Review exchange rates
If you are transferring significant amounts of money, as part of a UK property purchase or transferring cash deposits, it’s important to research an economical way to transfer funds. A specialist service, such as Smart Currency Exchange, can offer preferential exchange rates and save time on bank to bank currency transactions.
If you have a UK property you may have a home to return to. You might have rented your UK property whilst overseas, so may need to speak to your tenants or letting agent to give notice of your return. If you’re moving to a new area, or need to find a new home, you’ll need to consider whether to buy immediately or get to know the area before committing to a location. Renting in the short term can be helpful whilst you carry out viewings and choose a preferred area. Bear in mind that setting up a home in the UK can be one of the determining factors for becoming UK resident – and therefore back in the UK tax net.
It can be useful to seek advice from a local property agent, or family and friends in the area, and allow yourself some time to investigate UK properties, either through virtual viewings or a short visit ahead of your return. Do also bear in mind that you might need to arrange a mortgage too.
Healthcare in the UK
The NHS provides residency-based healthcare, so by returning to live in the UK you will be immediately entitled to free care. Make sure you register with your local surgery as soon as you return, and check the NHS Choices website for the latest information about dental options too. In the meantime, remember to plan ahead to make sure you have the medication you need, and arrange the transfer of your medical records.
Some other practical considerations might be useful to bear in mind as you plan your return:
If you have children of school age it will be vital to consider what options are available to you. Good schools can be over-subscribed, and you may feel it is useful to investigate and visit your options to determine the best place to educate your child. It is worth noting that children must be physically in the UK to enroll for a school place.
Consider that you may need to review all your insurances – for yourself and your family, as well as pets, your UK home and any vehicles which you are using. If you have private medical insurance, as part of your role overseas, you may want to port it back to a UK provider if you are no longer covered by your employer.
- Driving eligibility
You may need to check that your UK driving licence is still valid, and if not apply to the DVLA for a new one. If you’ve been away from the UK for some time do give yourself time to prepare for being back behind the wheel, and familiar with the roads and highway code.
If you are planning a return to the UK, it’s beneficial, both personally and financially, to plan ahead. A good financial adviser and tax specialist will be invaluable to help you navigate some of the potentially tricky tax matters. The right advice will also ensure you are in the best possible position for moving back to the UK, safe in the knowledge that your financial affairs are in order.