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Moving Back to the UK After Living Abroad

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 25 Sep 2017 | 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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Hi my name is Ahmed Ibrahim. I live in Leeds I'm currently student at swallow hill community college . I'm British citizen me and my father we want on abroad in Sudan and he left me in here I want go back to uk and carry my education . This is my address 19B grange avenue Leeds Ls7 4ej Thank you for you help I'm looking forward to hear you .
Cj King - 25-Sep-17 @ 10:54 AM
I can't open the CAB link above. I came to Canada when I was two in 1964 and have lived in the same city ever since, visiting Scotland every couple of years in my adult life. I have dual citizenship. It sounds like the same situation as the person above me. I am financially sound and plan on selling my flat here and buying in Glasgow. Will be able toI have plenty of savings/mutual and will have a good pension.rent a flat in Glasgow/area for a few months until I buy and furnish. I won't be in a position to move for a few years (morbid but I won't move 'til someone here dies and hate to say "it shouldn't be long now" but that's how it goes.) By the sounds of it, as long as my financial means can be proven, I won't have to apply for any kind of official papers. Am I right?
Cijay - 24-Sep-17 @ 6:12 PM
My brother in law has just moved back from LA after living outside the U.K for around 17 years. He had a brain tumour while in LA and got operated on successfully. Since the operation he has been left with memories lose and need constant prompting to do day to day tasks. He had an appointment with the doctor who said he is fit to work. He is clearly not fit to work. He is sofa surfing between family members. He went to job centre and they said he has to be in the country for more than 3 month befor he can claim job seekers allowance. He has no money and owns nothing. He needs a house and some sort of benefit. Could you steer us in the right direction as he served for his country in the British army in the 70's there must be something available?
Leezabee - 22-Sep-17 @ 9:25 PM
thutraymer - Your Question:
My husband is a British Citizen who moved to Canada with his family when he was 10, he went back to do university in the UK and then moved back to Canada. We have 3 kids who have British passports too. We are looking to move to the UK. From everything I have read I will need a spousal Visa but my Husband and kids are free to move back at any time?? Would it be best to apply for the visa from Canada?

Our Response:
Yes, you would have to apply for this visa from outside the UK, please see link here.
EmigrationExpert - 21-Sep-17 @ 1:45 PM
My husband is a British Citizen who moved to Canada with his family when he was 10, he went back to do university in the UK and then moved back to Canada. We have 3 kids who have British passports too. We are looking to move to the UK. From everything I have read I will need a spousal Visa but my Husband and kids are free to move back at any time?? Would it be best to apply for the visa from Canada?
thutraymer - 20-Sep-17 @ 4:21 PM
Shaz - Your Question:
HelloMy 77 year old mother and I are returning to the UK next year. Been away for 32 years in New Zealand. Mohr has paid 30 NC so has a letter to state full UK pension.Myself not sure only that been told recipient agreement "every day in NY is seen as a daughter in UK" WE are both British born and have National insurance numbers.Is this true?Also coming back to live as family there and one is very I'll. So will my mother pass the habitual test so she can claim pension credit winter fuel and housing allowances?Thanks

Our Response:
Within England, free NHS hospital treatment is provided on the basis of someone being ‘ordinarily resident’. It is not dependent upon nationality, payment of UK taxes, national insurance contributions, being registered with a GP, having an NHS number or owning property in the UK. If you are not ordinarily resident in the UK, you are considered to be an overseas visitor and may be charged for NHS hospital services. So, it is strongly recommended that you take out sufficient health insurance to cover your stay. You can see more via the NHS link here . You can also see more regarding whether you/and/or your mother can claim particular benefits via the CAB link here .
EmigrationExpert - 14-Sep-17 @ 10:44 AM
Hello My 77 year old mother and I are returning to the UK next year. Been away for 32 years in New Zealand. Mohr has paid 30 NC so has a letter to state full UK pension. Myself not sure only that been told recipient agreement "every day in NY is seen as a daughter in UK" WE are both British born and have National insurance numbers. Is this true? Also coming back to live as family there and one is very I'll. So will my mother pass the habitual test so she can claim pension credit winter fuel and housing allowances? Thanks
Shaz - 13-Sep-17 @ 4:58 AM
Sandie - Your Question:
I plan on returning to the UK after 40+ years in Australia. I am retired and on a good pension which I can have transferred to an English bank.My question is if I return to England after so long would I be entitled to treatment under the national Health?I plan to renew my British Passport when over there in the next few months and I still have my National Insurance No.Thank you

Our Response:
Please see the Age UK link here which will tell you all you need to know.
EmigrationExpert - 12-Sep-17 @ 11:54 AM
I plan on returning to the UK after 40+ years in Australia.I am retired and on a good pension which I can have transferred to an English bank. My questionis if I return to England after so long would I be entitled to treatment under the national Health? I plan to renew my British Passport when over there in the next few months and I still have my National Insurance No. Thank you
Sandie - 11-Sep-17 @ 9:11 AM
A family member, born in Northern Ireland, relocated to Canada over 40 years ago and became a Canadian citizen. Their British passport has also lapsed. They are now considering a move back to the UK to be nearer family. Is this possible? What steps do they need to take to return here? What about Doctors etc?
KSG - 1-Sep-17 @ 4:15 PM
Blue Grey - Your Question:
I'm a 67 year old UK-born semi-retired male teacher with dual British/Australian nationality, in Australia for 43 years, who has just separated from my partner of 22 years after we moved from Sydney to Queensland to be closer to her family. They hated me from day one and have spent the last 4 years trying to break us up - successfully. I had a heart attack not long after the split and now have ongoing heart problems. I have no friends in Queensland and my old Sydney friends are now scattered across NSW. There's no property or children involved.I am on the Aussie aged pension. Will I be able to access NHS care if I return to the UK to be closer to my two elderly sisters? And how about my eligibility for housing and other welfare benefits there? I am still willing to work if I can find teaching work in the UK at my age. It is impossible here once you're in your 60s because of age discrimination, despite the law prohibiting it. Is it also rampant in the UK?I did work for 6 years in the UK before coming to Australia.Feeling trapped in an increasingly hostile country and looking to live in a fairer society. Australia has really gone to the dogs and is no longer "the lucky country".Any advice appreciated.

Our Response:
You will find this AgeUK factsheet useful here if you are a British citizen over state pension age who moved abroad and who is now considering moving back to live permanently in the UK.It gives information about things to consider regarding your finances and housing and looks at your eligibility for health and social care services.
EmigrationExpert - 31-Aug-17 @ 12:54 PM
I'm a 67 year old UK-born semi-retired male teacher with dual British/Australian nationality, in Australia for 43 years, who has just separated from my partner of 22 years after we moved from Sydney to Queensland to be closer to her family. They hated me from day one and have spent the last 4 years trying to break us up - successfully. I had a heart attack not long after the split and now have ongoing heart problems. I have no friends in Queensland and my old Sydney friends are now scattered across NSW. There's no property or children involved. I am on the Aussie aged pension. Will I be able to access NHS care if I return to the UK to be closer to my two elderly sisters? And how about my eligibility for housing and other welfare benefits there? I am still willing to work if I can find teaching work in the UK at my age. It is impossible here once you're in your 60s because of age discrimination, despite the law prohibiting it. Is it also rampant in the UK? I did work for 6 years in the UK before coming to Australia. Feeling trapped in an increasingly hostile country and looking to live in a fairer society. Australia has really gone to the dogs and is no longer "the lucky country". Any advice appreciated.
Blue Grey - 30-Aug-17 @ 2:02 PM
Hi, I'm a German national living and working in the Uk since over 6 years. I have just quit my job to go travelling and will give up my flat here too during my time abroad. Question 1. I have never registered in the UK as I know I don't have to. But now I'm wondering how long can I stay out of the country and will be able to return ? and would it be better to register before I leave or would it be enough that I can proof up until when I was living and working in the UK? Question 2. can I get travel insurance from the uk whilst not paying tax or NHS contributions anymore after I will leave my job and go travelling ? (I have been contributing for the past 6 years) And is there a certain time frame I can get NHS cover after quitting my job and not contributing anymore?
Naomi - 26-Aug-17 @ 11:50 PM
My brother in law has returned from living in the USA to Scotland..He was homeless (due to difficult circumstances) he is a British citizen and did pay tax while he lived in the Uk..He arrived back in Scotland..has no job ..He is living at the moment in a shelter for the homeless. He has now been told he has no right to benefits or any type of permanent housing. How can this be as he is a British citizen?...any advice would be appreciated as he seems to have hit a brick wall...
Mar - 25-Aug-17 @ 4:09 PM
Mags - Your Question:
My family and I are all British born Citizens. We have moved to North America. Can we, at any time, after a prolonged period abroad move back to UK?

Our Response:
If you are registered as British citizens you are entitled to return to the UK at any time.
EmigrationExpert - 24-Aug-17 @ 11:46 AM
My family and I are all British born Citizens. We have moved to North America. Can we, at any time, after a prolonged period abroad move back to UK?
Mags - 23-Aug-17 @ 12:41 PM
Mr T - Your Question:
HiI am a British citizen and currently in Thailand and I have been working on a self employed basis there on and off as well as travelling to various Asian countries (visa runs) since Sept 2015. My travel insurance policy has now run out and I need to extend. I want to be medically repatriated back to my family in the UK in the event that I have a bad accident or become very ill on my trip. If I managed to get some travel insurance , would I be able to get NHS help on arrival.

Our Response:
The NHS operates a residence-based healthcare system and not every person is entitled to free NHS treatment in England. 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. Ordinarily resident means, broadly speaking, living in the UK on a lawful and properly settled basis for the time being. Please see NHS link here and here.
EmigrationExpert - 7-Aug-17 @ 4:05 PM
Hi I am a British citizen and currently in Thailand and I have been working on a self employed basis there on and offas well as travelling to various Asian countries (visa runs) since Sept 2015... My travel insurance policy has now run out and I needto extend. I want to bemedically repatriated back to my family in the UK in the event that I have a bad accident or become very ill on my trip. If I managed to get some travelinsurance , wouldI be able to get NHS help on arrival.
Mr T - 6-Aug-17 @ 10:01 PM
Hi there, I'm a British guy, living in Japan for almost 10 years, with a Japanese wife and 2 year old son. I'm planning to move back to the UK soon but wonder about landing a job in the UK. Curently my earnings are +19,000 pounds, however would I also need to have a job immediately in the UK for my wife to get the spouse visa? If not, how long is the grace period between my return and starting a new job of that same or higher amount? Thank you for any hep you can provide on this matter. Mart
MartyMart - 1-Aug-17 @ 11:37 AM
Ras - Your Question:
HiI am a British born citizen and passport holder who migrated with my parents at the age of 12 and have not been back to the UK since. I am now almost fifty and married to a none European but as ive gotten older I find myself thinking of Britain as home and want to relocate there with my wife. My siblings relocated years ago but I didnt start hankering to go home until a few years ago.Ive checked the immigration site and apparently unless I can magically find a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end returning home to live is not an option at least not with my wife and as much as I love my country I love my queen more. Can someone advise on how I can have both? I do not own any property and ive been living in a third world country for the past thirty years so money is scarce which is why I could not look at relocation as an option earlier and I do not see anyway of raising the stipulated amount of money. Can it really be true that by the rules of the British Government I would have to agree to leave my wife behind if I wish to return home or choose to leave with her and never to leave in the land of my birth because I am not a rich man? This smacks of class justice. Is there a way around this? Please advise

Our Response:
This is a rather contentious subject and one which was taken to the Supreme Court last year, but ruled lawful. In order for you to be able to apply to bring your wife to the UK, you would first of all have to be classed as being 'ordinarily resident' in the UK in order to be able to apply. As you may be aware, you would have to fulfil the other requirements of either having savings of over £62,500 or be earning over £18,600 per annum and for at least six months before you can apply. The reason being is so that the British citizen spouse can financially support the non-British spouse who would have no recourse to claim public funds (benefits). The Surinder Singh route is a method for British citizens to secure UK immigration rights for their non-European spouses, who are unable to join their partners, please see gov.uk link here. Otherwise, if this does not apply, you would have to seek independent immigration advice. But, loopholes are few since the government made a concerted effort to clamp down on immigration.
EmigrationExpert - 25-Jul-17 @ 10:01 AM
Hi I am a British born citizen and passport holder who migrated with my parents at the age of 12 and have not been back to the UK since. I am now almost fifty and married to a none European but as ive gotten older I find myself thinking of Britain as home and want to relocate there with my wife. My siblings relocated years ago but I didnt start hankering to go home until a few years ago. Ive checked the immigration site and apparently unless I can magically find a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end returning home to live is not an option at least not with my wife and as much as I love my country I love my queen more. Can someone advise on how i can have both? I do not own any property and ive been living in a third world country for the past thirty years so money is scarce which is why I could not look at relocation as an option earlier and I do not see anyway of raising the stipulated amount of money. Can it really be true that by the rules of the British Government i would have to agree to leave my wife behind if I wish to return home or choose to leave with her and never to leave in the land of my birth because I am not a rich man? This smacks of class justice. Is there a way around this? Please advise
Ras - 23-Jul-17 @ 7:29 PM
I've been living in New Zealand for 15 years and am now preparing to move back to the UK, where I was born and resided till my 30's.I currently have a New Zealand passport, can I use this when I return for good to get into the country without issue?I have dual nationality as have become a New Zealand citizen.
Saz - 20-Jul-17 @ 1:48 AM
Both my husband and I are Scottish been living in the Middle East around 13 years - my teenage children are returning to Scotland one to boarding school and the other to stay and help with elderly grandparent while finishing school ! My son is on a controlled medication and I am having huge issues trying to get an appointment for a repeat prescription- just been charged 160 pounds for a private and still not received prescription 3 days later can you offer any advice for registering - the doctors stated they can't use NHS for 6 months / I have to pay - I am fine with that but they won't deal with ongoing issues only emergencies ?
Burley - 19-Jul-17 @ 9:12 PM
@Mo - You need a Returning Resident visa to come back to live in the UK if you were previously settled (given ‘indefinite leave to enter or remain’) and you have either: lost your documentation or been out of the country for more than two years.  In order for ILR to be reinstated, you will have to successfully justify your personal circumstances that lead you to be out of the country for so long. If you have lost your ILR, then you can apply for a visa if you feel that's the best route.
YanT - 17-Jul-17 @ 2:15 PM
Matty - Your Question:
I am a British Citizen hold a British Passport I would like to return to Scotland after being in Canada since 1970, My husband is now deacesed and I wish to be with my family for my remaining years I am 80 years old and in good health what are the necessary steps I need to take to put this into action as soon as possible?

Our Response:
Please see Age UK link here which will tell you all you need to know.
EmigrationExpert - 17-Jul-17 @ 11:36 AM
I am a doctor from india and worked with nhs from1998 to 2006 I was granted indefinite leave to remain 2006 I had to move to india for pressing family circumstances to care for my motherinlaw suffering from alzimers I could not return to UK since I have a job offer from nhs Which visa should i apply for Should i apply for returning visa which may take long or may not ne given or should i go on work visa Can i go on work visa and then apply for returning visa .is this allwed
Mo - 16-Jul-17 @ 3:52 AM
I am a British Citizen hold a British Passport I would like to return to Scotland after being in Canada since 1970, My husband is now deacesed and I wish to be with my family for my remaining years I am 80 years old and in good health what are the necessary steps I need to take to put this into action as soon as possible?
Matty - 15-Jul-17 @ 4:38 AM
@Nessa - he'd be better renting privately and not through an agency. It's a difficult one as there are so many hoops people have to jump through these days, especially via agencies. There is also the likes of Spareroom that sometimes offer part-share of houses and or annexes or flats. Local newspapers or the likes of Gumtree might offer a way around your problem. Good luck.
Tim - 13-Jul-17 @ 11:21 AM
My partner (who is a British citizen), myself and our 7 year old daughter have been living in Norway for the past 4 years. We have now decided to move back to England. My partner moved back on 14th of June but I decided to remain in Norway to finish my work obligations here. He's been on a "property to rent" hunt ever since he got back to England yet at every turn he's been turned away since he only has a temporary job for the moment while he's waiting to start his permanent job and, as I am still employed in Norway, therefore, cannot hold jobs in two countries, I am counted as unemployed in England, therefore, letting a property is giving us dead ends over and over again (landlords go for "safer" options, even though we have savings we're bringing with). He's gone to council to seek help there, yet since he's been out of country for 4 years he's not counted as a citizen no more according to them. They've sent him to open an account at a bank yet bank sends him right back to council. Is there any solution in this situation? Otherwise, come august, we're homeless with a little child. Had I known this I'd probably remain in Norway and not give up a perfectly good job here and a house. P.S. I have a British bank account still active from the time I lived in England before.
Nessa - 11-Jul-17 @ 7:48 PM
My partner (who is a British citizen), myself and our 7 year old daughter have been living in Norway for the past 4 years. We have now decided to move back to England. My partner moved back on 14th of June but I decided to remain in Norway to finish my work obligations here. He's been on a "property to rent" hunt ever since he got back to England yet at every turn he's been turned away since he only has a temporary job for the moment while he's waiting to start his permanent job and, as I am still employed in Norway, therefore, cannot hold jobs in two countries, I am counted as unemployed in England, therefore, letting a property is giving us dead ends over and over again (landlords go for "safer" options, even though we have savings we're bringing with). He's gone to council to seek help there, yet since he's been out of country for 4 years he's not counted as a citizen no more according to them. They've sent him to open an account at a bank yet bank sends him right back to council. Is there any solution in this situation? Otherwise, come august, we're homeless with a little child. Had I known this I'd probably remain in Norway and not give up a perfectly good job here and a house. P.S. I have a British bank account still active from the time I lived in England before.
Nessa - 11-Jul-17 @ 4:48 PM
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