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Moving Abroad Checklist for people leaving the UK

A detailed insight into everything you need to do before moving abroad from the UK and also what to consider in your first few months in your new home

Written on 2 October 2023

Moving abroad can be daunting, so we've created this moving abroad checklist to help people understand what is required when moving abroad from the UK.

We created our moving abroad checklist primarily for people who are considering leaving the UK covering everything that you need to do before you move and also important factors to consider in your first few months once you've moved abroad.

Moving abroad checklist in a nutshell: Top 20 things to get done before you move

The following is a very brief moving abroad checklist which provides you with the key considerations and plans you will need to establish before you move abroad:

  • Evaluate the cost of living differences and ensure your living expenses are covered
  • Know your visa requirements of your new country of residence, remembering that EU member states now also require British citizens to apply for the appropriate visa
  • Decide whether you should rent or purchase a property
  • Schedule visits to where you want to live to get as familiar as possible with how things operate
  • Start learning the language and colloquialisms
  • Make initial plans to settle in to your new country of residence, including local community activities to get to know people
  • Get to know your tax requirements for your home country when you live abroad
  • Make sure you meet your tax obligations of your new country of residence
  • Decide what to do about your property in your home country
  • Make plans for relocating pets
  • Start to work out which objects to put in storage and which to transport abroad
  • Choose an international moving company
  • Sort out your insurance requirements (home, travel, life and car) and ensure that you comply with the rules of any existing policies
  • Establish any driving requirements, including licenses and tests you may have to take
  • Sort out any existing medical requirements
  • Know what financial planning options you have and sort out your bank accounts
  • Make a list of known utility bills and make plans for turning them off
  • Sort out a mobile phone, landline and internet provider before you move
  • Tell the authorities in your home country and your country of residence
  • Agree with family and friends how you plan to stay in touch

As we are primarily a wealth management website and service provider, we are going to begin with tax and financial planning matters before moving on to more general information.

Know your tax requirements in the UK and your new country of residence

The most common tax mistake people make when they leave the UK to live abroad is that they automatically assume that no tax will be due in the UK once they leave.

Once you leave the UK, you do not automatically become non-resident. Your UK tax residence status will be determined by using the Statutory Residence Test, which is explained in detail in this article about the Statutory Residence Test.

It’s worth remembering that while you are considered a tax resident of the UK, your worldwide income is subject to UK tax rules (in addition to potentially being subject to tax in your new country of residence).

If you leave part way through the year, you may be able to benefit from Split Year Treatment. However, this is complex and you will need assistance to fully understand the benefits and how it may apply to you.

Notifying HMRC that you are leaving the UK

Firstly, you need to notify the tax authorities (i.e. HMRC) in the UK that you are planning to leave. If you don't notify the relevant authorities, you may have to pay additional taxes which, as an expat, you are exempt from.

Get your P85 form from Revenue and Customs, fill it in and return it.

It notifies the tax authorities that you are leaving the country and helps ensure that you'll be taxed appropriately in each jurisdiction.

Reporting savings interest to HMRC

If you will be receiving income through interest on savings in the UK, you should fill out form R105 from HMRC and send it to the financial institutions where your savings are held.

Normally tax is deducted from your interest income before you receive it. This form requests that tax not be applied in future because your income will be taxed in your new country instead. If you don't do this, you may find that this part of your income is taxed twice.

Non-resident tax returns: completing a tax return as an expat

Even if you live outside of the UK, you may still be liable for tax in the UK on your income and potentially gains made from the disposal of assets.

This means that you may still have to complete a tax return. Find out what you need to do to complete a UK tax return as a non-resident.

Capital Gains Tax requirements of non-residents

If you are keeping property in the UK, it's important to understand that any future sales as an expat may still incur Capital Gains Tax as the rules for expats are about to change. You may wish to reconsider your options if you are about to move, but before you do ensure you know about Capital Gains Tax rule changes.

Know and understand the local tax rules

Remember that each country has its own tax rules, some specific for expats. There can be significant fines or imprisonment to not adhering to local rules and it really isn't worth risking it as often it's as simple as making a declaration on your assets.

Don’t try and navigate the tax systems alone

You should never leave any thing to chance as tax mistakes can end up being extremely costly. As soon as you are certain you are moving abroad you should seek help from a qualified tax specialist who will help you leave the UK correctly and provide you with all the information and guidance you need to get set up in your new country of residence.

We offer a free introduction to UK tax specialists, in addition to some other tax jurisdictions which also include a free initial consultation for you to have a general conversation and have some simple questions answered.

Request your free introduction to a UK tax specialist >

See our other free tax introduction services >

Renting out your home in the UK

If, like many expats, you are planning to rent out your home in the UK, you have a number of decisions to make.

Firstly, you decide how you wish to manage the property, including how you will find and replace tenants, collect rent as well as manage any improvements or repairs on the property. The most common way is to find a letting agent in the UK who will take care of all elements of the management of your property for a fee of between 10% and 15% of the rental income.

You also have tax considerations to make. Your first responsibility is to ensure that the HMRC are aware of your intentions, and you may be able to apply for the Non-Resident Landlord Scheme which could have some significant tax advantages.

As a non-resident, you will need to establish your likely income from rent as this could be subject to UK income tax, even if you are a non-resident for tax purposes.

There is a specific scheme call Non-Resident Landlord Scheme which was set up to ensure that all non-resident landlords pay UK tax on their income. This is explained in more depth in this useful article explaining The Non-Resident Landlord Scheme.

Don't forget to find suitable expat landlord insurance which will cover you and your property for every eventuality including contents, accidental/deliberate damage as well as any legal fees.

Finally remember that, if you have a mortgage, you have to inform your mortgage provider to ensure that you do not break the terms of your loan and risk repossession.

For more information about renting out your home in the UK please read our detailed article which will tell you all you need to know. Read the full article >

Wealth management and financial planning

Bank accounts

Currency fluctuations and transaction fees can mean that if you earn or spend money, you could be paying unnecessarily. To avoid this you should initially open an international bank account which is specifically designed to assist with the movement of money.

We also believe it is sensible to open a local bank account which helps with day to day banking.

One question we're regularly asked is whether you should close your UK bank account(s). In our opinion it depends on your circumstances. If you have ongoing transactions in the UK (for example direct debits or income from rent), it would be best to keep the account open. Also consider if you plan to return to the UK, you will need to open a bank account in the future - so it may be just as wise to keep your account open rather than having to open a new one in the future.

You may also be able to open an Expat Bank account. Specifically designed for expats, these accounts allow you to hold money in multiple currencies. Typically, they are accounts which are neither in the UK or in your country of residence and could allow you flexibility to suit your expat status. Find out which are the best banks for expats with our expat banking comparison tool >

Expat Pensions

If you are planning to retire abroad, your pension is going to be one of your most important factors - whether you are planning to retire abroad or continue to invest in a pension scheme.

Your main considerations are whether to transfer your pension to an overseas pension scheme, such as a ROPS, or leave it in the UK.

It's important to remember that pensions are taxed differently in different countries so it's important to speak to someone to know what each of your options are. 

Other Investments, such as ISAs

If you have an ISA (Individual Savings Account), remember that typically you need to have a permanent UK residential address for tax purposes. If you currently have an ISA and are planning to move abroad, you may not be eligible to carry on paying into it while you're away. However, there are a number of things you should consider such as whether you want to keep your ISA while you live abroad, payments before you move and whether you are returning to the UK at some point in the future.

If you are serious about moving abroad, you should get professional advice on your options to ensure you continue to get the best return on your investments, both now and in the future.

Estate planning

If you are considering retiring abroad, it is important that you plan your estate and what happens to it when you die. Different countries have different rules when it comes to tax and estate planning. The first step is to create a will. But also seek advice from a financial adviser who will be able to help you manage your estate to ensure you minimise the various tax liabilities, including UK Inheritance Tax.

Always seek help before moving

The rules and regulations for people living abroad are incredibly different and you should always seek help, even if you are knowledgeable about financial matters and wealth management.

Different investments can be taxed differently in other countries, while the number of investment opportunities increases – but not without risks.

Request a free introduction to an independent financial advisor >

Currencies and exchange rates

One of the biggest, but inescapable, financial elements of moving abroad is understanding how living and working with multiple currencies is going to impact you. While most people are familiar with going on holiday and using their credit card abroad, living abroad increases the importance of understanding how exchange rate fluctuations can affect you. This article explains in detail the impact of multiple currencies when living abroad >

This is even more critical if you have regular bills to pay in the UK or receive income which you rely on in your new country of residence, such as employment income or pensions. On top of that, if you need to transfer large amounts of money internationally, maybe for a property deposit or from the sale of a UK property, even a small change in the exchange rate can affect the real value of your money by many thousands of pounds.

Simply transferring money between bank accounts is likely to lead to additional fees as well as leaving you exposed to the banks own exchange rate which is rarely as competitive as specialist international money transfer services.

Since 2016, GBP has been significantly weaker than previously thought and is therefore more vulnerable to larger exchange rate movements. With inflationary pressure, increasing interest rates and continued global political and economic situations, 10-15% changes in the value of GBP aren’t unheard of.

Therefore first step is to speak to a forex and currency exchange specialist to understand just how much exchange rates can affect your life abroad. They will also be able to explain various services and options which are available that can help minimise the effects of exchange fluctuations.

Request a free introduction to an international money transfer specialist >

Medical insurance and health care

Get informed about your short-term eligibility for medical care and social security benefits your destination country.

In Europe your eligibility for medical care should be the same as that of local citizens.

Further afield, while your protections will typically not be as strong, Britain does have special agreements with a number of countries. You should check to see whether the country where you're going to live is among them. If not, you may need to make arrangements which ensure your health is covered as required.

UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC)

If you are moving to the EU or Switzerland you can apply for the UK Global Health Insurance Card (UK GHIC) or, if you are eligible under the Withdrawal Agreement, a UK European Health Insurance Card (UK EHIC).

The UK GHIC replace the previous EHIC once the UK left the EU and provides the holder with rights to treatment within an EU country that cannot reasonable wait until you return to the UK.

Typical medical situations covered by the GHIC include:

  • Visits to A&E or emergency treatment
  • Help, care and treatment for pre-existing conditions
  • Basic maternity care (although you are not allowed to use it for intentially giving birth abroad)
  • Kidney dialysis

It’s important to understand that not all medical services are free in other countries and you may be required to pay to receive some treatments.

Before travelling, you should also investigate your potential medical requirements to ensure you are not left with an expensive bill that you had not planned for.

Your current GP or dentists

Let your local GP and dentist know you are leaving. Some medical practitioners send appointment letters without requiring confirmation, and you won't be there to call it off. You don't want to waste the time of these much in-demand medical professionals.

Make a plan to settle in

While preparing to move abroad, one of the most important things to consider is how you're going to settle in once you've moved. From setting up utilities to understanding the culture, there is a lot of preparation you can do in advance to help make the transition smoother and ensure you don't get homesick.

Read our top ten essential tips for settling in to your new home to help prepare for the days and weeks after your move.

Driving and getting around

If you are intending to drive while in your new country of residence, ensure you know the local driving laws and regulations. Aside from ensuring you drive on the right side of the road, there are many customs and laws which you need to be aware of, not least the driving license requirements.

If you are heading outside of Europe, you need to request an International Driving Permit which you can do from the Post Office.

The International Driving Permit as an annual permit which is recognised internationally, and normally allows the holder to drive a a car or other motor vehicle when accompanied with a valid UK driving licence.

It is important that you check with your new country of residence before you travel as you may need to apply for a local driving license as well.

Utilities and other things not to forget when moving abroad


There are also a few administration items which you need to take care of.

You don't want to miss important post, so you'll need to set up a mail redirection at the Post Office as soon as you know where you'll be living. There are charges to organise this, but the Post Office will redirect your mail for up to twelve months.

Don't forget to turn the gas off

Let your utility providers know that you are leaving. If you're keeping your home in Britain and renting it out, you should also let your insurance company know this. Your existing policy may not cover the rental of the home. If you're still paying a mortgage on the property, you should also let your mortgage provider know.

Local authorities

Let the local authority know that you will be leaving and give them your new address so they can send you your Council Tax bill.

This list should not be considered to by exhaustive, but if there is something listed here that you hadn’t already thought about then hopefully it was of some help to you. There is a lot to think of when you're planning to go and live or work abroad, and not all of it is obvious.

Common mistakes

As with anything, when people move abroad they will often make mistakes. However, most are avoidable. Find out what the most common mistakes British expats make when moving abroad, and avoid making the same mistakes.

Registering to vote

Even as an expat you have an important role to play in the UK voting system. After all UK government policy will still affect you via taxation, immigration policy and foreign affairs. This is even more important if you maintain assets in the UK. Find out about expat voting and how to vote in the UK when you live abroad.

Taking your pet with you

If you have a pet and would like to take it with you, there are a number of factors you need to consider when moving abroad, and the sooner you can start planning your pet's relocation, the easier it will be.

Once you know and have confirmed your destination, you will need to get your pet micro-chipped by your vet. Then you will need to have your pet immunised against rabies - at least 21 days before you are due to travel.

You should also seek the help from a professional animal transportation company who can give you the practical advice of transferring your pet.

Finally you need to consider the transportation itself - including the transportation crate, food and water as well as any creature comforts your pet may need.

For full details about everything you need to consider, read our expat guide to taking your pet abroad with you when you move.