Over 750,000 Brits live abroad in a European country. However, now that Brexit has taken place and the UK and EU are set to end their transition agreement at the end of 2020 some overseas residents are considering their future and contemplating returning to live in the UK.
Moving back to the UK after living abroad is often a relatively seamless experience. However, there are many important considerations that citizens should consider before they go ahead with their plans.
This article explains what British citizens should have prepared before moving back to the UK after Brexit so that there are no regrets or issues during the process. It details:
- What overseas residents should prepare before moving to the UK.
- What documents are necessary to enter and live in Britain.
- How to bring foreign family members to live in the UK.
- How travel may change for pets after Brexit.
What to do before moving to the UK
Residents who have been living outside the UK for years or decades should take a few steps of preparation before travelling back to settle in Britain or Northern Ireland. This will help tie up any loose ends in a country of residence and get quickly re-registered in the UK.
First of all, ex-pats should deregister from any services and local authorities in their current country of residence. This may include notifying and delisting oneself from:
- Their local town hall or city administration.
- The national police resident records.
- Local healthcare centres where they are registered.
Older residents that receive UK pensions in their country of residence should also contact their local government’s social security agency and the International Pension Authority. This will allow these organization to update their payment records for future payments that are received within the UK.
On the UK side of things, departing overseas residents should also check whether they have to re-register with certain governmental services and notify relevant authorities for when they arrive back in Britain. This may include:
- Checking their tax status before resettling in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
- Swapping a foreign drivers’ license for a British one.
- Applying for school places for any children in their care.
- Registering for government benefits they may be entitled to.
- Ensuring any qualifications gained overseas can be recognised in the UK and can be identified by the appropriate regulator.
- Registering for council tax in their new area and rejoining the electoral roll.
What documents are necessary to move back to the UK?
Fortunately, there is not much official paperwork necessary to resettle in the UK as a British citizen. The most important document that ex-pats will need to move back to Britain is a valid British passport.
There are of course some changes likely to occur due to Brexit when travelling to and from Europe (for example travellers from the EU could soon be required to register for a UK eTA before visiting). However, these adjustments will not change any of the documental requirements for British citizens travelling to the UK.
Nevertheless, it is wise for overseas residents to gather up any financial or medical records that they have gained during their time abroad. This will help when applying for any financial services, government benefits or following up on any health issues when back in the UK.
How to bring family members back to the UK
Citizens who have started families overseas may have to complete a few extra steps if they wish to bring any family members that were born or married to them abroad back to the UK. Returning with a non-citizen family member is allowed, but this is subject to immigration rules and may in some cases require an appropriate British Visa.
Despite Brexit taking place in March this year and the imminent end of the transition period on January 1st 2021, UK citizens returning from an EU country with foreign family members will continue to be allowed to move back to the country together. This is set to remain the rule until 29th March 2022.
British citizens moving home from other countries where their family members have citizenship however must apply for a family visa. This must be obtained from a UK embassy and will need to be presented and checked at the UK border when arriving back to live there permanently.
After March 29th 2022, all citizens moving to Britain with foreign family members will need to ensure all the non-citizen members of their party hold a valid family visa before arriving in the UK to live.
Bringing pets back to the UK after Brexit
One of the biggest areas of change after Brexit will be the process of bringing pets back from the EU. At present, animals can travel to and from Britain with an EU pet passport.
However, these documents will no longer be issued to UK residents after December 31st 2020. Although current EU residents will be allowed to use them to enter the UK with their pet after the transition period ends.
Yet, no matter what is decided by the end of the transition, Pet owners should ensure that their cat, dog or ferret have had the following done before travelling to the UK:
- They must have received a rabies vaccination.
- They must be microchipped.
- Dogs may require tapeworm treatment.
- They must hold an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) issued by a vet under 4 months before travel.
Moving back to the UK checklist
There are quite a few important tasks to have sorted before making the move back to the UK permanently. However, people planning to resettle in Britain should, at the very least, ensure that they have done the following before leaving:
- Hold a valid British passport.
- Find a suitable place to live or stay.
- Open a UK bank account.
- Swap any foreign drivers licenses for UK ones.
- Register for tax in Britain.
- Gather any tax or medical records from the country you’re living in.
- Register for the electoral roll and council tax.
- Update local and international pension authorities.
- Ensure pets are documented and have had all the necessary health checks and vaccinations.
There are many changes and some challenges to face when planning to return to the UK full time. However, with the right preparation and care, the process is usually very straightforward.