Deciding to leave the UK and change your life is an incredibly exciting time. But whether you’re just moving abroad temporarily or permanently relocating, there’s always a practical side to the excitement.
What do you need to do before you leave? If you’ve found yourself typing ‘how to leave the UK’ into Google, then fear not — we’ve got you covered.
We’ve put together this leaving the UK to do list so you can be sure that you’re totally sorted before you leave.
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Leaving the UK: What Do I Need to Do?
Pay Your Dues
Firstly, you need to contact HMRC to make sure your tax and National Insurance contributions are up to date. Being chased for outstanding payments while you’re trying to start a new life abroad is nothing short of a hassle.
Before you leave the UK, you’ll also need to complete a P85 form from Revenue and Customs. This form enables you to claim any tax refund you’re owed, as well as claim any tax relief you might be entitled to.
It’s also important to remember that every country has its own tax rules, so it’s worth seeking some advice from the authorities or a financial advisor before the big move so you can estimate what your tax liability is before you move.
Once you’ve sorted your taxes, you need to settle all your household bills. Call up your utilities company to arrange a final meter reading before you leave the UK, and don’t forget to tell your local council to halt your council tax.
You also need to cancel contracts with your telephone, internet and mobile phone providers (although you may want to keep the latter in order to maintain a healthy credit score), as well as your TV licence.
If you receive a pension and want to transfer it overseas, you must check with your pension provider if your current pension is a ‘qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme.’
You can download form APSS 263 which will enable your UK pension provider to transfer your sums and assets over to your qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme. Remember, you’re still entitled to receive your UK State Pension when you move abroad.
Set up Redirections
If you haven’t done so already, go paperless with all your accounts to prevent your bills and documents containing personal information from being sent to the address you’re leaving in the UK.
For anything you can’t set up online, you can arrange to have your mail redirected to your new address through the Post Office. A good idea is to set up a virtual postbox to manage your mail, which also provides you with a UK address during your time abroad — a good way to help maintain your credit score.
Alternatively, you could arrange for your mail to be redirected to another UK address, such as a parent or a trusted friend’s house. You can ask them to vet any junk mail and send on any important letters or hand them to you in person.
You just need to determine the best option for your circumstances.
Shipping or Storage?
One of the most common dilemmas expats face when leaving the UK is deciding what of your belongings you want to take with you abroad.
Essentially, you have three options:
- Sell your stuff before you leave
- Ship your stuff to your new address
- Put your belongings in storage (especially common for people moving only temporarily)
If you’re considering options 2 and 3, try and gauge how much stuff you’ll likely be storing or shipping. Most shipping couriers and storage providers will provide you with a free quote, so it’s always best to know how many things you want to ship or store before making contact with them.
If you want to get quotes and buy boxes from international removal firms, we’ve listed a few companies below to get you started.
We’ve also chosen a couple of the most popular storage companies to contact if you want to leave any personal items behind when you leave the UK.
Taking Pets Abroad
The first thing you must do is get your pet microchipped by your vet.
Depending on the country you’re moving to, you will also need to provide proof of certain vaccinations and that your pet is immunised against rabies. Before your pet is able to fly, they will need to have a last minute sign off by an airport vet that they are fit to do so.
While it is possible (and cheaper) to arrange moving pets abroad by yourself, it is much easier to hire an import/export agency to handle this for you. They will be able to book flights, advise you on vaccinations for your destination country and arrange the vet sign off.
Don’t forget to ask each agency you contact whether or not they will provide your pet with a transportation crate and food. If not, then you’ll need to buy all the items your pet needs for a comfortable moving experience.
Find Accommodation or Book a Hotel?
When you’re working out how to leave the UK, you’ll probably want to organise immediate accommodation in your new country so you can settle in as soon as possible.
In reality, this translates to either booking a hotel for your first few days, or another form of short-term accommodation like Airbnb.
What choice you make really depends on where you are going and how fast you think you can move into a new home once you’ve found something suitable in your new country. You may need to book a hotel for a few nights or arrange rental accommodation for a few weeks or months if the process is likely to take a long time. Weigh up what is the most cost-effective option for you and use local portals to find something suitable.
If you haven’t already found your new home, then book appointments with local estate agents for when you arrive at your new city or town to find permanent accommodation quickly.
If you’re a parent, one of the most important things to arrange before leaving the UK is your children’s education.
If you can, arrange to move your family at the end of the school year so your kids will be able to settle into their new schools quickly and easily at the start of the next one. If you can’t wait till the beginning of the next school year, liaise with your children’s teachers or headteacher and find out when they recommend you take them out of school.
Also, make sure you arrange for your children to start at their new school quickly when you make it to your new country.
Like you, they will be leaving close friends and a familiar routine behind, so it’s best to get them settled as quickly as possible into their new life.
Hopefully you’ll now have a much better idea of how to leave the UK so you can settle into your new life abroad quickly and easily.
As they say, fail to prepare and prepare to fail — it’s best to consider all these different things as soon as you know that you’re moving so you’ll be prepared when the time comes to leave the UK.