Expat planning should be at the heart of any move abroad. Why? Well, even for the most travelled, beginning an exciting new adventure in a different country can be daunting.
Whether it be for studying, a new job or to start your retirement in the sun, expat planning is required to make the process go as smoothly as possible and reduce any anxieties you may have. Of course, you should expect life in a new country to be different to the one you’ve enjoyed in the UK and there will be plenty of things to prioritize to ensure you make the most of this opportunity. However, this should be seen as an exciting moment and not one fraught with worry. To help ease any concerns, we’ve compiled this admin checklist to make your big move as easy as possible.
1. Research your big move
It sounds obvious but you should expect life in your new home country to be very different to the one you had in the UK. Before going, make sure you do some thorough research into your new country of residence to avoid being caught out.
For example, as an expat, you may need to apply for a visa or a permit. If you’re working, there may be requirements you need to meet in order to earn money and pay tax on any income. Depending on where you are moving to, you may need to have specific vaccines or medical insurance. You should also check all passports to make sure they are well within their expiry date.
It’s sensible to begin the research process early so you have time to apply for documentation and follow any other processes that are required to successfully gain access to a new country. If you’re unsure about what you should do or where to start, have a good look online and contact the embassy of the country you are moving to.
2. Think about your finances
Living in a new country will have a big impact on your finances, meaning there are various things to consider depending on whether you are moving to work or to retire.
You will need to inform HMRC of your plans to leave the UK. If you don’t, this may lead to additional taxes from which you could be exempt. To do this, you can access the P85 form on the HMRC website. This official documentation notifies HMRC that you are leaving the UK and means you will be taxed appropriately in your new home country.
You should then plan a budget for your new life abroad. Think about your income and your outgoings by researching the cost of food, rent, mortgage, bills and any other payments you may need to make. Put together a spreadsheet detailing your budget at home and conduct online research into what you expect your new outgoings to be. Make sure you have some savings aside in case you are hit with any unexpected costs during the first few weeks of your move.
3. Bank accounts
As an expat planning to leave the UK, you should investigate opening an international bank account. This will mean you are less at risk of currency fluctuations or fees you might have to pay if you continue to rely on a UK bank account.
Some expats planning to leave the UK for good will close any previously held accounts; however, this will only be necessary if you are sure you will not be returning. If you still have payments or outgoings in the UK, perhaps around a rental property you manage, you should keep this account open. If your move is only in the short-term then maintaining an account at home will also be helpful when you come back.
For any expat planning on retiring abroad, your pension will likely be a main source of income. This means it’s important to have your pension provision in order.
There are numerous options for how you can plan for your retirement. You will still be able to receive your state pension if you retire abroad and you can choose to accept this via a bank in the country you’re living in or a UK-based bank or building society.
Expats moving abroad from the UK may be able to transfer their pensions into a Qualified Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). QROPS allows expats to consolidate their pensions into one plan, a move which often means retirement savings can be managed and maintained more easily than having to track funds in different investments.
A Self Invested Personal Pension (commonly called a SIPP) enables someone to invest in a pension for retirement but gives them the autonomy to make their own decisions about investment options.
Pensions can be a complicated financial area and there are a variety of options available. Ultimately, the decision of where you choose to invest your money can often come down to how easy it is for you to access your funds without being charged. It is always good practice to speak with a financial advisor to work out your options.
5. Medical insurance and healthcare
An essential part of your expat planning will be focusing on medical insurance and healthcare. The Covid-19 pandemic has shown how important it is to have access to timely medical support; however, this can be a difficult area to navigate once you are in a new country.
If you are investigating your healthcare needs, make sure your insurance covers you, particularly if you have specific medical concerns. Unexpected medical and health bills can end up being very costly, especially as a non-resident in a new country.
If you are planning on travelling between countries, you should also consider international medical insurance. This type of policy will entitle you to cover wherever you go and will mean you do not have to worry about securing cover for each country you wish to visit. If you are due to remain in one country, you may only need to invest in one form of insurance. But do your research into the quality of medical care you will receive, as international hospitals and doctors may be of a higher standard to localised services.
6. Plan your journey
Not only should you consider what you’ll be doing once you arrive in your new home, you should also investigate how you will be getting there. Research shipping costs and air travel and whether you need any vaccines or visas to gain entry.
You should also take out travel insurance for the initial journey to cover you and your belongings in case anything goes awry along the way.
Remember that this insurance will only cover you for your outward journey and should not be relied on after you have arrived in your final destination.
You must also make sure you take any documents essential for travel with you on your journey. This can include documents such as a passport, driving licence, insurance policies, employment records, medical records and birth or marriage certificates. Draw up a list, check it and check it again to make sure nothing is forgotten. Good luck!
With so many expat financial options now available, choosing the best investments, insurance policies and medical cover is crucial for staying financially safe when you’re away from the UK.
ExpatRoute is here to provide you with easy-to-access information that can help take advantage of the best policies for you. It is advisable to also contact a financial adviser for more information based on your personal circumstances.