If you’re looking to spread your wings and move to foreign lands, an important thing to consider is what will happen to your UK credit rating living abroad.
We’ll explain how credit scores can be affected by an overseas move and what you can do to maintain (or improve!) your credit while you’re away.
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What Happens to UK Credit Rating Living Abroad?
One of the first things you might be wondering is whether you can take your credit rating with you when you move overseas.
The answer is: no.
You can’t use your existing UK credit rating in another country as it’s simply not a universal possession that can be updated as you move about the world.
The UK has three main credit agencies: Experian, Equifax and Call Credit. These agencies track your credit history while you’re in the UK and create their own scores for each individual.
But does your credit score follow you? Simply put: no.
If you decided to live in Spain for a year and then return to the UK, the credit agencies are unlikely to find out so it’s unlikely your score will be marked down too harshly.
However, if you move to Spain for 10 years and then decide to return to the UK, you’ll have a blank credit gap as you would have been living at a non-UK address for the past decade. Without any information to track your credit, the agencies will have no other option but to adjust your score downwards.
If you want to apply for credit while you’re abroad, you’ll have to start from scratch. You can apply for credit cards to show that you can manage accounts sensibly to get the ball rolling.
Alternatively, you can try taking a copy of your UK credit report with you to your new country to show potential lenders abroad that you’re reliable at paying back your debt, although this will only be considered on a discretionary basis.
Why Do I Need Good Credit When I Live Abroad?
Just because you’ve made the big jump overseas, it doesn’t mean that you should forget about your UK credit score living abroad.
Yes, your UK credit report will be of no use to you when you’re living abroad, but it will become very important if and when you decide to return home.
While bad credit may not affect you while you’re still abroad, life could be very tricky for you when you return to the UK.
You’ll have difficulty getting a mortgage, credit cards or renting a property if your rating is poor or has fallen off the face of the earth.
How Can I Maintain A Good Credit Rating Living Abroad?
But don’t panic — just because you’re living abroad doesn’t mean your credit score has to spiral downwards.
There are a few things you can do to maintain your UK credit rating living abroad.
Firstly, think twice before closing healthy credit card accounts — even if you think you’re never going to return home.
The more accounts you close, the more damage it does to your credit score. You’ll have to start all over again with building your credit if you do end up coming back to the UK if things don’t work out as planned.
Keep some of your credit card accounts open and use them occasionally, as well as when you visit home. Just make sure you tell your credit card providers that you are moving abroad to prevent them from becoming suspicious of identity theft.
You can close store credit card accounts unless you plan to carry on shopping with those particular retailers.
Another thing you can do is keep a cheap mobile phone contract active. This will also make it cheaper for you to make phone calls and save you money on roaming fees when you do visit friends and family in the UK.
Lastly, retain an address in the UK. You’ll need one to maintain your UK credit card accounts and re-establish a credit rating if you do come home. You can set one up via the Post Office or ask a trusted friend or relative if you can have your mail sent to their address in your name.
Top tip: If you’re lucky enough to establish a good relationship with a lender or a bank overseas, it never hurts to ask them to put something in writing or send an email to state that you have been an excellent customer while living abroad. It may be just a reference, but anything that proves you’re capable of paying bills or debt on time should help you when you return to the UK.
If you do find yourself back in the UK with a low credit score, take a look at this Experian video which explains how you can start turning your rating around:
Without a shadow of a doubt, you must take care of your credit and make smart choices when you move abroad.
Moving overseas can be stressful and with so many things to think about, people often forget about the state of their credit rating living abroad. However, it’s easy to keep your credit score healthy while you live outside of the UK as long as you follow the simple steps above.