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Moving Back to the UK After Living Abroad

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 21 Feb 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Moving Back To The Uk After Living Abroad

Moving back to the UK after spending time living abroad can be a very difficult time for most people. There are a number of reasons why people decide to return 'home', most commonly home sickness, missing family members, work, or simply not settling are reasons to think about being back in the UK.

For many, the decision will take months to make, with continual doubts as to what the right thing to do is. Some people go back and forward for many years, often known as 'yoyo movers', only to eventually return to the UK to stay. If you're planning to move back to the UK for good, there are a number of important tasks you must carry out before returning and when you get there.

Medical Attention and Returning to the UK

Before you leave your current location abroad, you should let your doctor know that you will no longer need to be on the medical roll and are returning to the UK. If you have private medical insurance, you should let them know of your change of circumstances. Some may be able to simply transfer your policy to the UK, while others may require you to cancel your policy before leaving.

If possible, get your current GP, dentist and any other healthcare records sent to the UK before leaving. This will require you to register with a dentist and GP in the UK first. Many will let you do this over the phone, or online, but some will require you to attend in person. Speak to them on the phone first to see which is the best option for you.

Benefits, Entitlements and Other Government Agencies

When returning to the UK, there are a number of important legal steps you must take to ensure that you receive everything you're entitled to. Some of the most important revolve around benefits, pensions, national insurance and tax.

  • Contact the Department for Work and Pensions to find out whether you are able to transfer your pension back to a UK account. They can also help you find out whether you're entitled to any benefits.
  • Tie up any tax payments you may need to make in the country you're currently living in before leaving.
  • Speak to HM Revenue & Customs to let them know that you're coming back to live in the UK permanently. They can help you with any tax issues you may encounter on your return.
  • To obtain your National Insurance number and to find out about any NI Contributions, you should contact the HM Revenue & Customs National Insurance Contributions Office.

Selling Your Home and Buying a New Home

Before you leave to move back to the UK it is advisable to arrange someplace to stay, even if it's only temporary. Most people will stay with relatives where possible or some may book into a hotel for some time. This can be expensive however and it might be worth considering a temporary short term rental.

Check out online websites that deal specifically with short term rentals and see if they have anything to suit. If you're selling a home in the place you currently live, you should do this well in advance of your moving date. These things can take time and sorting out paperwork and payments are usually due to time constraints. Get your house on the market and know when you need to sell it by.

If you're buying in the UK, you can be brave and buy unseen, but generally it is best to wait until you're there so you can get a feel for the place. If you're even slightly unsure about how long you're staying, rent rather than buy. It can be more difficult and expensive if you buy and have to sell again within a short term period.

Moving Back to the UK with Children

Although children are relatively good at adapting to new circumstances, it can be an emotional time for them to up and leave friends and a school that they're settled in. Try to make the move back to the UK an exciting time for them and remind them that they can stay in touch via email with friends they're leaving behind. As well as the emotional support you'll need to provide them, there's also a number of legal issues to take care of.

  • Notify the local school and official school authorities that you are leaving the country and let them know your forwarding address
  • Contact the UK authority that deals with school admissions in the area you're moving to. Some areas have difficulties in placing children at specific schools, so arrange this in advance of the school term if possible
  • It is always advisable to start your child at the beginning of a school term where possible. This means they don't have to come in during a term where people are already settled into their new classrooms and new teachers

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I also have a valid passport that expires in 2024. No children are involved and it’s just my personal belongings that my friends will keep safe for me. I have a place to stay until I’m on my feet if I go back. I have no intention of going back to the US not even to visit. I know the UK like the back of my hand. I’m English born and bred. I won’t have very much money though. I need a jjob to get my feet on the ground though. Agency, part time etc. Any ideas? Thank you in advance.
Binkus1800 - 21-Feb-18 @ 6:52 PM
Hello, I would like to know what steps to take if I leave the US as a legal resident with a valid UK passport through break down of marriage. What do I do to get UK resident permanent status. I was born and lived in the UK for 50 years before moving to the US in 2011. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Steve in the USA.
Binkus1800 - 21-Feb-18 @ 6:38 PM
@Lynda - your problems are more to do with the change in lifestlyes in general than the UK being unwelcome. Most phone companies want reassurance that you are going to pay your bill and take money via direct debit or direct from a valid bank account. So it stands to reason that a bank account is needed (one is required for most things and always has been). Similarly, a utility bill may be required to open a bank account for security reasons to prove you are who you say you are and you live where you say you do. If the world wasn't such a corrupt place now, perhaps we could go back to living like we did in the 1950s. But it is, fraud takes place all the time and most companies have to try to prevent this. I hope you settle in better once you are here. Regards, RG.
RogerG - 20-Feb-18 @ 12:35 PM
My son is unable to return to the US and is in a nursing home in UK.I have been in the US for over 40 years and am a dual citizen.I'm finding that process of possibly returning to the UK is extremely difficult.Everything has changed so much since I last lived there temporarily for several months in 1993.Now, I cannot get a bank account without a utility bill.This meant that I had to actually rent a short-term apartment.I cannot get a phone without a bank account. I have a British passport, so I'm at a loss as to why I'm so unwelcome.I am re-thinking this entire process and might just visit rather than giving up what I perceive to be the "safety" of US residency.I feel for the 58 year-old lady who is having difficulties too - see her post under "Max" above.Max, if you read this, please respond.Maybe we can pool our resources and win this battle.
Lynda - 19-Feb-18 @ 12:40 AM
Lynda - Your Question:
Why does your article 'Moving Back to the UK after Living Abroad' suddenly turn into advice about settling in to your new environment ABROAD ? They are two separate issues, after living abroad we already know the 'ups and downs' and presumably have good reasons for wanting to return.Please make them both separate articles to avoid confusion.Thanks

Our Response:
The whole article is about moving back to the UK. We cannot see what you are referring to.
EmigrationExpert - 6-Feb-18 @ 11:16 AM
Why does your article 'Moving Back to the UK after Living Abroad' suddenly turn into advice about settling in to your new environment ABROAD ? They are two separate issues, after living abroad we already know the 'ups and downs' and presumably have good reasons for wanting to return. Please make them both separate articles to avoid confusion. Thanks
Lynda - 5-Feb-18 @ 5:11 PM
Ash - Your Question:
I left the UK 5 years ago ì2013, with my 2 kids to start leaving with my parents who are resident in UAE. Last year my son who is 5 now been diagnosed with ADHD, due to his condition I have decided to move back to UK coz first I can't afford the treatment here in UAE so expensive second they don't have the expertise which my child can get in the UK. So far there is no improvement in my child condition. I am single mother not officially divorce yet but past 2 year leaving separately, kids father is not helpfull at all and we are not in good terms as well. I would like to know what help/support I can get in terms of housing, school and my special needs child treatment. I have very minium amount of money and I dont have anyone in the UK where I could come and stay. Please advise and assist me I am in really difficult situation with my 2 kids specially with my special needs child. Thanks & regards Afshan

Our Response:
If you are a British citizen and wish to return to the UK, depending on how long you've been out of the country, you may have to satisfy the conditions of a test, known as the habitual residence test (HRT) before you're allowed to make a claim. Please see link here, which should help answer your question.
EmigrationExpert - 5-Feb-18 @ 11:16 AM
I left the UK 5 years ago ì2013, with my 2 kids to start leaving with my parents who are resident in UAE. Last year my son who is 5 now been diagnosed with ADHD, due to his condition I have decided to move back to UK coz first I can't afford the treatment here in UAE so expensive second they don't have the expertise which my child can get in the UK. So far there is no improvement in my child condition. I am single mother not officially divorce yet but past 2 year leaving separately, kids father is not helpfull at all and we are not in good terms as well. I would like to know what help/support I can get in terms of housing, school and my special needs child treatment. I have very minium amount of money and I dont have anyone in the UK where I could come and stay. Please advise and assist me I am in really difficult situation with my 2 kids specially with my special needs child. Thanks & regards Afshan
Ash - 4-Feb-18 @ 7:35 PM
I have lived in the USA for 14yrs on a E2 dependent visa. which expired because of a divorce...have no legal right to stay in USAmust return to UK asap.. ..Have no where to go once get into UK...very little money too...NO FAMILY MEMBERS able to help. ..a friend maybe can stay 2 weeks only.Nottingham area......husband hid money from courts and I recvd nothing in divorce settlement at ALL....yet I am the one who MUST return to UK.... I am desperate for info.....it is the housing situation that is frightening....I am able to work but need accomodation first...woman 58 yrs old.....
Max - 3-Feb-18 @ 10:13 AM
My family emigrated from UK to NZ in 1966.I have lived, worked and owned property in NZ for the last 20 odd years.I am still working full-time at 69 (we don't get the pension here til age 65). I am thinking about returning to live in Shrewsbury where I was born and where I have friends.I hold a current NZ passport as a citizen of NZ. Would I be able to return and live in the UK, and would I be eligible for a UK pension or wld my NZ pension need to be transferred to UK?I may just about be able to buy a small flat in Shrewsbury while property prices in Auckland remain high.
Jen - 30-Jan-18 @ 3:42 AM
As above her father says I can’t force her to come home to England but I am putting her best interests first. Please help
Whoop - 29-Jan-18 @ 9:44 PM
My daughter is in Australia with her dad she is 10 an says wants to stay there to him an wants to come home to me, he said I can make her come home ! We are all British and he lived there 5 years an she has been there 6/7 months. I think she should be home with her siblings an better environment but I don’t know where I stand
Whoop - 29-Jan-18 @ 8:40 PM
Hello my father is not a British citizen but lived and was resident for many years in the UK and paid national insurance contributions and taxes. At the time he had an indefinite stay document but has lived abroad for over a decade now. He receives a UK state pension and I mysef(his son) was born in the U.K. and am currently resident there. He previously lived in the UK and had owned property there for over 20years. My first question is what is necessary for him to move back to the UK (especially with all this Brexit business) and secondly, he is currently receiving cancer treatment. How long would the transfer to the NHS take? I worry about possible breaks in the treatment process while moving counties.
D - 29-Jan-18 @ 5:10 PM
I left the UK in 1990 at 27 after having been in the army and steady employment after that. I have been working (teaching) in Asia ever since. I have not paid any UK NI or tax since I left. If I came back to the UK to work (in teaching), Would I would be on 'emergency tax' for a few months and just start paying NI? Or would I 'owe the UK money on what I earned abroad in all those years? I suppose I wouldn't be entitled to any type of pension (including army) or benefits...? Very curious - what do you think? Thanks!
Sean - 27-Jan-18 @ 12:09 PM
Hi, I am a U.K. citizen who’s has lived in Sweden many years. I have recently moved to Spain and considering whether to be resident here or register myself in U.K. and use the 186 day rule for my home in Spain. Who could I consult in U.K. re. pros and cons, specifically concerning tax and pensions? Sincerely Ronnie
Ron53 - 26-Jan-18 @ 2:51 PM
Shan - Your Question:
I am an Indonesian and have son who is British We live in Indonesia. I lived in Indonesia with my British partner who has died now.My partner’s parent wants me and my son to join them in UK.My child never lived in UK How can we come and live in U.K.??Aporeciate any information on this.Thank you very much

Our Response:
You would have to apply for a visa independently. You can find a visa which may suit you via the link here . You would have to fulfil all visa requirements before you would be eligible to apply.
EmigrationExpert - 26-Jan-18 @ 11:46 AM
Lynda - Your Question:
I am a 60 year old woman with severe back problems following several operations abroad. I lived in Turkey for 9 yrs and now in Bulgaria for the last 2yrs.My husband died in November and I am desperate to return to the UK but have insufficient funds to buy a property even if I sell my present home. I have a single daughter with 2 children but she is on benefits in a small flat so unable to live with her even short term. How can I get help to return and find suitable accommodation. Any advice appreciated.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, there is no organisation that would be able to help you financially make the move. Likewise, you may not be entitled to claim benefits if you return, please see link here . Also, although the Age UK linkhereis aimed as a British citizen over State Pension age who moved abroad and who is now considering moving back to live permanently in the UK, it does have some useful information on eligiblity for housing etc.
EmigrationExpert - 26-Jan-18 @ 10:52 AM
Carla - Your Question:
I left the UK 4 years ago 2014, with my daughter and husband. We got divorced in France in 2016. I want to return to the Uk with my 12 year old daughter to start again and work. What is the p procedure and I have no money to move back can get UK help me at all? Thank you

Our Response:
There is no official organisation that can financially help you relocate back to the UK. It is also tricky if you wish to apply for benefits and housing, as you have to be considered to be classed as being 'ordinarily resident' again and this can take time. Please see link here for more information.
EmigrationExpert - 25-Jan-18 @ 3:38 PM
Joongermo - Your Question:
I have a family member living in Berlin. He has been there 34 years working in sports coaching. He is miserable there and struggling financially. He has no assets and now is struggling to make ends meet alone as he is not getting work in due to his age these days. His father lives in the uk and at the age of 82 is struggling alone at home and has early stages dementia. My family member would like to come back to the uk and care for his father but would be unable to work (most likely as unable to get a job (golfing isn’t easy to find work in when older) and doesn’t have any savings etc. I am unsure if he would be entitled to benefits (his fathers Home is owned outright so accommodation is covered as he would live with him) Does anyone know if he would be entitled to help and if so what?

Our Response:
Rules that came into force on 1 January 2014 mean that, if you friend wants to claim income-based jobseeker's allowance, he would need to show that he is habitually resident. He cannot be viewed as habitually resident until he has been living in the UK or elsewhere in the common travel area for at least three months. You can read more via the CAB link here , which will help answer his question in full.
EmigrationExpert - 25-Jan-18 @ 2:07 PM
I am a 60 year old woman with severe back problems following several operations abroad. I lived in Turkey for 9 yrs and now in Bulgaria for the last 2yrs.My husband died in November and I am desperate to return to the UK but have insufficient funds to buy a property even if I sell my present home. I have a single daughter with 2 children but she is on benefits in a small flat so unable to live with her even short term. How can I get help to return and find suitable accommodation. Any advice appreciated.
Lynda - 25-Jan-18 @ 10:09 AM
I am an Indonesian and have son who is British We live in Indonesia. I lived in Indonesia with my British partner who has died now.My partner’s parent wants me and my son to join them in UK.My child never lived in UK How can we come and live in U.K.??Aporeciate any information on this . Thank you very much
Shan - 25-Jan-18 @ 1:11 AM
I have a family member living in Berlin. He has been there 34 years working in sports coaching. He is miserable there and struggling financially. He has no assets and now is struggling to make ends meet alone as he is not getting work in due to his age these days. His father lives in the uk and at the age of 82 is struggling alone at home and has early stages dementia. My family member would like to come back to the uk and care for his father but would be unable to work (most likely as unable to get a job (golfing isn’t easy to find work in when older) and doesn’t have any savings etc. I am unsure if he would be entitled to benefits (his fathers Home is owned outright so accommodation is covered as he would live with him) Does anyone know if he would be entitled to help and if so what?
Joongermo - 24-Jan-18 @ 8:20 PM
I left the UK 4 years ago 2014, with my daughter and husband. We got divorced in France in 2016. I want to return to the Uk with my 12 year old daughter to start again and work. What is the p procedure and I have no money to move back can get UK help me at all? Thank you
Carla - 23-Jan-18 @ 4:28 PM
Ash - Your Question:
Hi I'm a British citizen, I've been living and working in holland for 20 years.i was married to a Dutch man I'm now divorced.id like to move back to the UK but have an illness and working isn't a realistic option as just had to close my shop due to health reasons.I don't want to claim but I'm afraid I won't have an option.Am I intiteld if I go back to England having paid tax and private care in holland for 20 years.thanks

Our Response:
Unfortunately, it's not that straightforward. If you're a UK or an Irish citizen coming to live in the UK from abroad you may want to claim certain means-tested benefits. Depending on how long you've been out of the country, you may have to satisfy the conditions of a test, known as the habitual residence test (HRT) before you're allowed to make a claim, please see link here . Also, provision of free NHS treatment is on the basis of being ordinarily resident and is not dependent upon nationality, payment of UK taxes, national insurance (NI) contributions, being registered with a GP, having an NHS number or owning property in the UK, please see link here.
EmigrationExpert - 23-Jan-18 @ 3:29 PM
Hi I'm a British citizen, I've been living and working in holland for 20 years.i was married to a Dutch man I'm now divorced.id like to move back to the UK but have an illness and working isn't a realistic option as just had to close my shop due to health reasons..I don't want to claim but I'm afraid I won't have an option.Am I intiteld if I go back to England having paid tax and private care in holland for 20 years.thanks
Ash - 23-Jan-18 @ 1:20 AM
I am Indonesian and have son is British We live in Indonesia I lived in Indonesia with my British partner who has died now Which category do I apply as Access to child living in UK ?can I apply under this category My child never lived in UK Thank you very much
Shan - 19-Jan-18 @ 9:16 AM
Butz - Your Question:
I was granted Indefinant leave in 1973. I was married to a British citizen. I had two children during the 5 year marriage. He passed away, and I returned to The USA. I would like to end my days in The UK. after a 35 years in the US. Would I still have my indefinite leave?

Our Response:
To qualify to enter the United Kingdom as a returning resident, you must have had indefinite leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom when you last left and have not been away from the United Kingdom for more than two years. If you have been out of the UK for this period of time, you can see more via the gov.uk link here, which should help answer your question.
EmigrationExpert - 18-Jan-18 @ 2:41 PM
I was granted Indefinant leave in 1973. I was married to a British citizen. I had two children during the 5 year marriage. He passed away, and I returned to The USA. I would like to end my days in The UK. after a 35 years in the US. Would I still have my indefinite leave?
Butz - 16-Jan-18 @ 10:09 PM
bangles - Your Question:
Hi There! I would like some advice. My son who has lived in Australia since he was 18, a UK citizen, now wants to come back to the UK at the age of 37 will he be able to do so freely? I am concerned that he will not be able to claim benefits untill he is back on his feet financially, I am able to give him a room to sleep, but won't be able to maintain him financially, as I am not working as I am a Lupus sufferer. What help is out there for him.

Our Response:
You son can return to the UK freely. However, he would not be immediately eligible to claim benefits. If your son wishes for instance to claim income-based jobseeker's allowance, he would need to show that he is habitually resident. He would not be allowed to be viewed as being habitually resident until he has been living in the UK for at least three months, please CAB link here .
EmigrationExpert - 15-Jan-18 @ 10:28 AM
Hi There! I would like some advice. My son who has lived in Australia since he was 18, a UK citizen, now wants to come back to the UK at the age of 37 will he be able to do so freely? I am concerned that he will not be able to claim benefits untill he is back on his feet financially, I am able to give him a room to sleep, but won't be able to maintain him financially, as I am not working as I am a Lupus sufferer. What help is out there for him.
bangles - 14-Jan-18 @ 9:07 AM
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