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Moving Back to the UK After Living Abroad

By: Tracy Whitelaw - Updated: 31 May 2024 | 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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Will the British embassy pay my air fare back to the UK until I pay it back once in the UK as my UK debit card has expired. I will have access to funds in the UK. I am living in colombia.
Mick - 31-May-24 @ 3:05 PM
As an expat British passport holder returning to live in uk, is it necessary to declare my intention to stay at the border? And can I bring my young children (citizens by birth) on Canadian passports till I apply for British passports when settled ?
Canadareturn - 8-May-24 @ 6:45 PM
Hi. I'm a British citizen by birth. Lived in the UK for 2.5years after I was born. I'm 50yo now and I'm planning to go back by May this year. I am applying for a job there but still want to go back. I hold a valid passport and I was wondering if you can give some points for my return in order to not make any mistakes upon arriving. I don't have children and if I can't get a job before I arrive I will try to find any job so I can stay for good. Thanks
Jorge or George - 6-Jan-24 @ 10:05 AM
I am a UK citizen by birth but have never lived in the UK for any reasonable length of time, now I am considering moving to the UK with my husband and three children all under sixteen years. How do I go about making this desire a reality?
Glo - 13-Sep-20 @ 9:39 PM
I am a British citizen and also have US citizenship and have lived in the USA for 20 years. I need to return to the UK to take care of ageing parents for approximately a year. Am eligible for NHS healthcare benefits while I am there?No other benefits required, housing and income are secure. Thank you.
Nan - 25-Sep-19 @ 10:41 AM
I have been living in Canada for the past 13 years.I do not have any assets so would need help with benefits.I take medications for my mental illnesses so it is imperative that I have some kind of assistance.I have been trying to get help online but it is like trailing through a labyrinth of information.Any help would be much appreciated.Thank you for your assistance.
Fleur - 19-Sep-19 @ 3:29 PM
I am a british citizen living in Argentina since 1991. I have since married and have 4 children, 3 of which are over 20 and inly one is 13 years old.I would like to return to the UK where I lived in the past for 12 years, completed my secondary education there and worked for 6 years.My sisiter and aunts, cousins live in UK.Could I retun to live in the UK with my husband and children, they do not hold british passports. Thank you for your advice.
Lynd - 11-Sep-19 @ 11:06 PM
Hi , I have been living in Australia for 18 years now , due to family issues i have to return back home to the uk . I left the uk when i was 41 , i have since had a kidney transplant while being here . Would i still be able to have treatment / check ups on the National health ?
denno60 - 10-Sep-19 @ 1:35 AM
I am a British Citizen living in South Africa since 1982. My husband has an EU passport (German) and a South African Passport. We are planning to retire in England and would like to know if my husband ( of 30 years) will require any kind of Visa to settle in England post Brexit. I know that before it wouldn't have been an issue as he has an EU passport but now we don't know where he stands.
Sheena - 3-Sep-19 @ 9:24 AM
I am a UK citizen who has lived in the US for 50 years and plan on returning to the UK to live permanently. What medical benefits, if any,am I eligible for through NHS since I have not lived there for the requisite 10 years? Can I see a regular doctor if needed and am I covered for Hospital emergencies should one occur? lso, as a pensioner, how long willI need to be resident before I am ( or will I ever be) eligible for emergency andregular medical benefits through NHS? Thank you for your time
Norah - 20-Aug-19 @ 1:00 AM
If I move back to uk from Canada am I entitled to use the nhs
Coco - 14-Aug-19 @ 7:47 PM
My brother has been living in the US since 1980, he is 65 years old and has recently lost his job and fallen into debt and is considering moving back to the UK. He is still a British Citizen but hasn't worked here for over 40 years and therefore hasn't paid tax or NI here. Would he be entitled to any state help at all as he has no assets and would need help. Any advice gratefully received,
Lottie - 17-Jul-19 @ 9:30 AM
My parents moved me from Scotland to the US when I was 8. I am now 45 and I am looking to move back and was wondering what steps I need to take. I am still a British Citizen with a British passport and will be moving by myself. I know here in the US you need a social security number to work and was wondering if and how I would achieve what is needed to work there? What should my first steps be for the move ahead?
Al - 16-Jul-19 @ 9:12 PM
I left England when I was 13 years old and immigrated to Canada in 1974 I went back to England last October for first time in 42 years. I was home!It felt so good to be back on familiar soil. I have a British Passport with right of abode as a British Citizen wth family in England. Should Brexit go through, will I still be able to permanently move back to UK? Or will I be faced with any barriers.Thank you for response. I would be making a permanent move back home.
Dolphin - 16-Jul-19 @ 7:58 PM
I left England for Canada when I was 12years old and am now 67 and am trying to move back to the Preston area next year I can have my Canadian pensions directly deposited to a British account but while here on holiday found outthat I can not open an account without a British address I am not sure of the steps I would need to do when I sell up in Canada and actually move here what steps I would have to do once I get off the plane
CATPAU - 27-Jun-19 @ 11:41 AM
I'm a British citizen, born in London 1966. I left the UK in 2009. I want to return imminently, as a habitual resident. What, if any, steps do I need to take to return to my previous status. I have two children whom I want to bring back with me.
Monty - 22-Jun-19 @ 2:57 AM
Hi Both me and my husband are British citizens beenliving in Australia for the past 25years .We are planning to move back to N.Ireland. Is there any information we need to know before we actually leave Australia in approximately 3years time or earlier. Would appreciate any information that will hep us in any way.Kind Regards
Caz - 7-Jun-19 @ 4:08 PM
Hello, my husband (1944) and I (1956) both born in UK and lived there until 2005.Husband was a 'War Babe" and we came to USA in 2005 to spend time with family.Husband given Citizenship under the War Babes Act.We want to move back in 2022 when I reach retirement age.I have also been a US Citizen since 2010.Can we just move back, allowing for informing Inland Revenue, Pensions etc.Do we need to get UK passports before we leave?Any help will be gratefully appreciated.Thank you.
Dobar - 24-May-19 @ 4:32 PM
I'm a UK citizen (British Passport) born in London 1970.I have lived in Italy for 5 years.Now I'd like to return to the UK. However 3 years ago I took up Italian residency.Does this effect anything when I return to the UK.Am I still a UK resident. May mean nothing to worry about.
Oggi - 6-May-19 @ 3:12 PM
Hello, I want to move back to the UK. I am in the very beginning phase as in this won’t be for a few years yet as my partner needs to finish school. But my question is about returning and I just want to get my duck in a row. My parents moved me away when i 6 years old i am now 38 how difficult will it be for me to return? I realize i will not qualify for NHS services for a time. I still have a British passport.
Andrew - 3-May-19 @ 2:04 AM
I have been living in Thailand for 11 years with my UK born son (now 13 yrs old) To return to the UK, do we both require a TB cert for re-entry. My son had all his vaccination including TB carried out in the UK before we moved to Thailand. I am over 60 yrs now. The GOV UK site does not mention this case only for Visa applicants which we are not. Thank you.
Tba - 10-Apr-19 @ 1:19 PM
Hello i am a UK resident who has lived in US for 40 yrs but now that im older i would like to move back home What happens to my Social Security benefits which i am receiving now? I still hold a British passport
catriona - 20-Mar-19 @ 12:30 AM
Hi, I just moved back to the UK after nine years living in Spain. In Spain I had Spanish residencia. I am English by nationality. I am unable to find much information at all as to what I should do to declare myself as now living in the UK again. How do I become a UK resident again? Any advise on any things I should do would be appreciated. Many thanks.
samson - 24-Feb-19 @ 1:50 PM
I was born in 1925 in Canada and moved to the uk around 1944 where I lived until for around 30 years where I raised a family who stayed in the UK and had families of their own.Although I moved back to Canada for 39 years, I now want to move back to the il to be with my English family in my later years.I have a British passport as well as a Canadian one and get an English pension too as I worked in the uk for so many years albeit smaller then if I was living back in the UK.My question is, Can I just move back as I have a British passport and family to stay with? Is there any advice you can offer?TIA
Chipstickmam - 26-Jan-19 @ 6:47 PM
What? Is the situation.Return to UK after 30 years in Germany. (Pensioner in reciept of UK Pension).Will be living with sister in law ina property that I partly own.What benefits am I entitled to (Health etc etc)
Monman - 6-Jan-19 @ 9:39 AM
Hi! I have been living in Sydney, Australia for 20 years. I emigrated with my now Australian ex husband and have 2 independent children with him. I have since remarried an Australian man and now that my children are over 18 I would like to return home with my husband. I’m hearing more and more of the difficulty of this venture!! Please could you advice me of how best to source the information required... thank you!!!
Bert - 1-Jan-19 @ 5:13 AM
Hiya, I left England when I was 24 to go and live in Canada. Now 20 years later I want to move back home to England. I worked for a long time in Canada. Can I apply for my Canadian government to pension from England, when I eventually retire? I have dual nationality with both passports British and Canadian. I also still have my national insurance number, nhs number, British drivers license and birth certificate. What are the first steps I need to take to move home? I also own property abroad that I want to sell.
Mk - 29-Nov-18 @ 8:27 PM
I am a permanent resident of Canada for 30 years. I would like to come back to u.k and take care of my sick mother for an unknown about of time. I still have my British passport. I would like to know if that’s possible and can I have health and dental care?
Lola - 23-Nov-18 @ 5:59 PM
I was born in England and I am thinking about moving back from New Zealand can I just go back? I also want my daughter (16) to come (born in nz) will she be able to come with me?
Donna - 4-Nov-18 @ 10:53 PM
Hello I have lived in Belguim for nearly 30 years, unfortunately I am an invalid since 1996 and have major problems being alone most of the time, my closest family is still in the north east of England and they keep telling me I should move back so I have family around me to help. I can’t work, I have no savings, I have dual nationality and would love to be back with my family who care. Would I be entitled to claim any benefits here I have invalidity through the sick insurance I live in a social house and have no idea where to start and what I can do! I am desperate I have tried to take my life twice and see no future here on my own. Please could someone advise me on what I am entitled to and what I need to do so I can be with my family again. Thankyou
Lollann - 27-Sep-18 @ 6:28 PM
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