In this blog, our Director (Sales and Development), Kristofor Banks, shares his personal experience discussing the financial considerations for returning expats.
The Returning Expat!
Having recently repatriated to the UK from Singapore, I was struck by the amount of “work” required to make such a move.
I left the UK in 2012 kicking and screaming, like a spoilt child who thought Edinburgh was the only place anyone should ever wish to live. My wife (then fiancé) Monica, had bigger ambitions.
We left the UK, each with two suitcases, our passports and a couple of direct debits.
Fast forward eight years, we returned to the UK with two kids (plus one on the way), a sausage dog, a 40 ft container of “stuff” and the prospect of way more than a couple of direct debits!
There are many things you need to think about as returning expats. Here are the most important ones from our experience:
Housing: Probably the biggest decision is where you are going to live. Should you rent and see how you get on, or buy? Many expats purchase their homes before repatriation, and some keep their old homes. If you do need help to buy then we have a whole mortgage team ready to help!
Your New Family: You may have married or had children while abroad. The right visas and travel documents need to be in place long before you decide to repatriate. For something that many take for granted, this could be a challenging task, especially if you have married someone from another nationality.
Pets: Our sausage dog, Frankie, cost more to fly home than the entire family’s airfares! We travelled during COVID times and fortunately Singapore has a no quarantine agreement with the UK so Frankie was straight through, however many countries have restrictions. Our main priority was to have Frankie be in the UK before we were, as many dogs had been left behind until country borders had re-opened.
International Shipping: It’s worth shopping around as costs vary widely and by all accounts have gone up since 2020. This part requires a fair amount of admin, including declarations to HMRC, so start early. It can take some time for your container to arrive, so we sent four suitcases ahead via “Send My Bag”, which sends your cases to your home within a week. Beware: people often send back furniture only to find it either doesn’t fit or looks out of place in their new UK home!
Review Your Finances: I’d suggest doing this at least a year before moving home. Consider the timing of your move – The UK tax year is April to April which differs from many other countries – entering the UK at the beginning of a tax year simplifies re-entry.
Tax Implications for Returning Expats
- Realising gains before repatriating
- Surrendering certain products before repatriating
- Currency availability within existing policies
- Endorsing life policies for UK compliance
- Pensions: Did you transfer your UK pension to a QROPS while abroad?
- Potential Inheritance tax liabilities
Other Key Areas to Consider for Returning Expats:
- Notifying HMRC of your return
- Registering for council tax
- Local electoral roll
- TV license
- Sky/broadband/Netflix, etc.
- Private medical care options
- Possible private school fees
The decision to move back was a big one, and thankfully, despite the challenges facing returning expats, it has worked out to be the right one for us!
Since returning to the UK, I have been supporting and advising returning expats to make their move as smooth as possible. If you are planning a return or have already made the move and want to have a chat, I’d be more than happy to help.
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