British government offers guidance to potential expats

With an increasing number of British citizens moving abroad the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the British government has produced a checklist of tipsaimed at people moving abroad.

During the recent financial crisis the FCO has had to deal with an ever increasing number of British expatriates who have required assistance on financial issues often caused by a lack of planning prior to the move.

‘Our consular staff across the world have dealt with a high number of British expats requiring assistance for financial issues, whether as a result of a house purchase gone wrong, having inadequate funds to pay for medical bills or experiencing some other misfortune that has resulted in financial hardship,’ said Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Mark Simmonds.

Whilst we would recommend that anybody considering moving abroad no matter where you’re from the FCO has added some helpful information unique to British citizens, the tips are as follows:

  1. Do your homework – research your destination, visit forums and expat community resources to help get a feel for the area.
  2. Read up on local laws and customs – visit the FCO’s Know Before You Go site for more information.
  3. Don’t rush into buying abroad – take time to visit the area and other properties nearby, don’t be rushed into decisions and ensure you are familiar with local protocol.
  4. Seek independent legal advice – don’t feel under pressure to use your property developer’s or estate agent’s contacts. Use the FCO’s English-speaking lawyers lists to find one who understands the law in the country you intend to move to.
  5. Plan for your health – once you permanently leave the UK you are no longer entitled to medical treatment under the NHS or via a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Be sure to take out health insurance and if you are staying within the European Economic Area (EEA), read up on the S1 form relating to health cover. More information can be found here.
  6. Consider your long-term financial requirements – read up on the impact that moving overseas may have on any benefits or retirement income received. Be realistic about your living costs; don’t assume they will be the same as at home. Read up here on how to claim your state pension abroad.
  7. Read up on tax regulations – be sure to research the taxes that will be applicable to you in your new home (as well as back in the UK) once you have moved abroad. Information is available here.
  8. Know the costs – don’t forget to take into account exchange rates and potential financial implications of moving overseas.
  9. Let people know you are leaving the country – including the Social Security Office, HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Work and Pensions. A full list of who to contact can be found here.
  10. Integrate – an essential part of a successful move abroad is integrating into the local community. Try not to isolate yourself and make an effort to learn the local language, as this will play an important role in helping you settle in.

The ‘Know Before You Go’ website mentioned in tip 2 is more aimed at people travelling on holiday or making short trips but again is useful advice.