Moving Abroad Checklist: Everything You Need To Know Before Leaving the UK
16th January 2019

Moving Abroad Checklist: Everything You Need To Know Before Leaving the UK

If you’re moving abroad you will be making an exciting and life changing decision — but also one you will have to plan for. This Moving Abroad Checklist will detail everything you need to know before leaving the UK.

Each year thousands of Brits leave the UK to start a new life abroad. In 2016, 339,000 people left the UK, 60,000 more than those who came to live in the UK, according to the University of Oxford Migration Laboratory.

People emigrate for a variety of reasons: over half leave for work, while many plan to retire abroad or join family already living overseas. Others relocate abroad simply because they are fed up with the horrible weather and endless commutes.

Whatever your reason for leaving blighty behind, you’ll surely have lots to plan. We’re aware this can all seem a very daunting task. That’s why we’ve prepared a Moving Abroad Checklist to ensure you start your new adventure overseas trouble-free.

Moving Abroad Checklist


The paperwork you will require to live and work abroad will very much depend on which country you relocate to.

UK residents have the right to work in any other European Economic Area country at present. Once there you will likely have to overcome certain regulatory hurdles, such as applying for residence cards and registering with local services.

If you are moving to any other country outside of the EEA you will have to apply and secure visas before you go. These will be issued dependent on your age or profession. You will need to check whether that visa also covers partners and family members.

You can find detailed information on obtaining visas for the following countries below:

New Zealand
South Africa

Find A New Property Abroad

Spanish Villa PropertyOnce you have decided which country you want to relocate to the next thing you will need to do is find a property. Unless arranged as part of a company relocation package, there will be much to consider.

Finding the right home takes time and is a personal decision. But most will agree that above all else it needs to be practical and affordable. Because of the distance involved most will not have the opportunity to view properties various times.

Online property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla have overseas search categories that allow you to search for houses and flats abroad. If you know the destination you are moving to you could also use the Association of International Property Professionals to search for local estate agents.


Lots of banks now operate internationally and most countries around the world accept major credit and debit cards from Visa and Mastercard. You can’t rely on this forever though and will need to open bank accounts soon after you arrive in your new country.

Most banks will simply require that you provide them with proof of address and fill out a few forms. You will need to check the individual requirements of the country you are moving to.


It’s important that you calculate and ensure you are paying the right amount of tax on your earnings.

This will depend on your residency status, but if you are paying tax in more than one country you could be eligible for certain tax reliefs.

Registering and paying for tax is often a ncessary precondition for accessing social welfare and healthcare systems in many of the countries in the EU.

Accessing pensions

If you are planning to retire overseas and live off your pension you will need to check your eligibility to do this. You will also need to account for the Pounds fluctuation against other currency.

EEA residents are eligible for pension rises in most cases and may access pensions from their home country. The Telegraph reported last year however that a ‘No deal Brexit’ could mean British expats lose access to their pension while abroad.

Arrange Healthcare

Healthcare provision differs from country to country. Generally, you will be entitled to state-provided healthcare on the same basis as a national of that country provided you are working and paying tax in that country.

In Europe you may use your European Healthcare Card (EHIC) but if you are going to be living there permanently you must register with that country’s relevant health authorities.

Depending on the country’s standard and level of healthcare you may wish to consider taking out a private healthcare plan. Or checking whether this is provided as part of a work relocation package.

Local Living Costs

The cost of living varies massively around the world. You will need to check the cost in your intended destination and factor anything you do not pay for now. For example, tuition fees for children if sending them to a private or international school.

Lots of countries have a lower cost of living than the UK. However, this must be weighed up against the wages you can command for your profession in that country.

Numbeo publishes real-time global data for consumer prices and the cost of living around the world and is a good place to do your research.

Enjoying this article? Read our blog post on how to choose the best removals company.


Porto TramThe mode and cost of transport is something you will also need to factor into assessment of living costs. Particularly if you are going to be using the public transport system.

You need to check whether you can drive using your UK driving licence. Most countries will allow you to use it initially, but you will have to apply for a new licence or a driving permit after a specified period of time. The AA gives guidance on their website for various countries.

If you wish to bring your car with you there is also a process for replacing number plates in each country. You might also need to enlist the services of a removals company that can carry out vehicle shipping services.

Bringing Pets With You

Cat in moving boxEach country will have its own rules and regulations requiring the transportation of pets. Your pet may require microchipping and extra vaccinations if you want them to join you abroad.

Some countries, such as Australia, operate very strict laws requiring documentation and periods of quarantine which you will need to check well in advance.

Transferring Money

When moving abroad you will need to transfer large amounts of money to pay for certain goods and services.

As such, getting a good deal on your currency exchange is absolutely crucial to starting your new life abroad on the right foot.

If you want to beat your banks rates and services we recommend using trusted FX provider, Frontierpay.

Register to Vote

UK citizens living abroad are still eligible to vote overseas provided they have been registered in the UK in the past 15 years.

To register you will need your National Insurance number and passport. You can register online using the government portal.

Learn the language

If you are moving abroad to a country where English is not the first language you might need to update your language skills.

There are plenty of free online courses and apps like Duolingo which you can use to practice. Of course the best way to learn is by immersing yourself in the culture of the country itself.

Who Do I Need To Tell?

In addition to this Moving Abroad Checklist you will you need to inform several people before you leave the UK. The most important ones are:

  • HMRC — update them on your circumstances to ensure you are paying the right amount of tax.
  • Your designated pensions authority and the government to claim your pension while abroad.
  • The Student Loans Company — if you have an outstanding student loan it is important that you let them know otherwise you might be ordered to start monthly payments on a fixed plan.
  • Healthcare providers so that you can arrange to have your records sent to your new doctor/provider and receive your prescribed medication.
  • The Electoral Register to ensure you are still eligible to vote while abroad.

For more information read our blog post on who to tell when you move house.

Most popular destinations for UK Expats

If you have read our Moving Abroad Checklist but have not yet decided where to move to, below is a list of the 5 most popular destinations for British expats:

Moving to Australia

Australia Harbour BridgeYou might have heard chatter about endless sunshine, barbeques and cricket on the beach. It will comes as no surprise to hear therefore that Australia remains the most popular expat destination for Brits. In fact one in four who have permanently left UK shores has headed to Australia.

Read more about moving to Australia and life ‘Down Under’ here.

Moving to the USA

New York Statue of LibertyEvery year thousands of Brits emigrate to the USA in order to pursue their version of the American Dream. From landing a well-paying position in the Big Apple, or being at the centre of the tech revolution in Silicon Valley, the USA is awash with opportunity.

Read more about Moving to the USA here.

Moving to Canada

Vancouver SkylineCanada boasts some of the most breath-taking scenery in the world and is a peaceful and prosperous place to live. Last year it was the most researched relocation destinations for UK citizens, according to Simon Rogers, data editor for Google News Lab.

Read more about Moving to Canada here.

Moving to Spain

Barcelona, SpainSpain has long been the favoured expat destination for Brits looking to retiree in the sun. It’s not just for retirees either. A new trend is fast emerging of young Brits relocating to Spain to tap into a foreign-friendly property market with low interest rates, ripe for first-time buyers.

Read more about Moving to Spain here.

Moving to New Zealand

New ZealandNew Zealand is famed for its outdoors lifestyle and the country’s landscape is second to none. From mountain ranges, rolling farmlands, stunning beaches and the vast, flat Canterbury Plains, there is so much to explore.

Read more about Moving to New Zealand here.

International Removal Services

Made up your mind? Whether you’re already ticking off your Moving Abroad Checklist or just starting to think about your dream international move, GoodMove can assist.

Moving abroad is not like moving domestically with lots of added considerations to bare in mind, from export packing, shipping or air freight services, to customs restrictions.

As with our domestic removals, we start with a home visit to discuss your full requirements in detail and to ascertain the volume of effects being shipped.

Once we are certain on the details of your move, we will send you a free written quotation. If you are satisfied with our quote, we will then provide a full schedule to ensure a smooth move overseas.

If you enjoyed this article please leave us a comment below. Likewise, if we missed something off you think is worth includign please let us know.

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