For Brits, the two primary reasons to move abroad is either for work or retirement. From lifestyle to professional development and a host of other reasons that vary from individual to individual, a move abroad can be extremely rewarding. It also comes with challenges such as language barriers, having to adapt to new cultural norms and simply building a new life in a new, unfamiliar environment.
With so much sure to be going on in your life in the months following a move abroad one thing you don’t want to have to worry about is your finances. Key to being able to focus on everything else you will need to, as well as simply enjoy the benefits of your new home and/or stop in your career journey is good preparation. You’ll want to spend as little time as possible fretting over financial issues from banking to insurance and pensions.
That means getting as many as possible of the little details in place before you leave. You can then quickly put in order anything else that you need to be physically present for as soon as practically possible after your arrival. Here’s our checklist of the financial arrangements anyone moving abroad from the UK should tick off before departure and immediately after arrival in your new home:
Open a Local Bank Account
Whether or not your main source of income will be received locally or into your UK bank account, it makes sense to open a local account. If you have moved for professional reasons and will be paid locally this is a necessity. However, even if this is not the case, it won’t be a prudent to always withdraw cash locally, pay using your UK debit or credit card or make transfers from your UK account.
You will most likely incur charges on cash withdrawals from local ATMs and even paying directly with your card and also for each transfer you make, such as paying a landlord or making mortgage instalments from a UK account. More financially damaging will be the poor exchange rate your bank will almost certainly give you. If you open a local account, you can set up monthly transfers from your UK account using an exchange specialist that will give you the best rate possible. You will then avoid both losing out through the uncompetitive exchange rates offered by UK banks and incurring unnecessary charges.
Before you leave do some research online and come to a conclusion as to the best bank and account for your needs available in the country you are moving to. You may be able to open an account online before you go, fill out some of the paperwork in advance if this is not possible or at least know exactly where to go to open an account immediately after you arrive.
If you are moving abroad for work and will be paid locally, it’s important to get up to speed on the details around your pension contributions. If you are retiring abroad there are also pension details to be ironed out.
Working Abroad: if you will be working abroad and being paid locally your employer will probably be paying into a locally-based scheme. If you will also be making additional personal contributions, you may have a choice if those will be into a local pension product or an existing one you have at home. Different countries have different rules on taxation around pensions, requirements and options. Make sure you spend the time, and enlist professional help if needed, to understand what the pension rules are in your new country and what your options and obligations are. If payments you’re your pension will involve international transfers, make sure you use a specialist service and not a bank as over time the exchange rate difference is likely to mount up to a considerable sum.
Retiring Abroad: if you are retiring abroad you should make sure you have put arrangements in place to either receive your pension income in your new home country or have it regularly transferred to a local account from the UK account it is paid into. Take professional advice to make sure you take advantage of any tax efficiencies that might be open to you and also to manage currency risk.
Regardless of whether you are moving abroad for work or retirement, you should notify HMRC that you are doing so. You should fill out a P85 form which will ensure you avoid paying taxes you are exempt from as a non-resident British citizen and that you pay the appropriate level of any taxes in your new home. Taking professional tax advice is recommended especially if you will still have income in the UK, such as from renting out your home or any investment properties, pension income or income from any other investments.
Making sure you have the appropriate insurance cover, from health to income, car insurance and home insurance is important. If you are moving to the EU, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) and familiarise yourself with what it does and doesn’t cover. Make sure you fully familiarise yourself with what kinds of insurance are obligatory and optional in your new country, what they cover and the best providers.