Expat checklist issued by UK government

by Ray Clancy on September 20, 2013

Every year thousands of British people decide to move abroad but few are prepared for the unexpected and now there is a new checklist to help them.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a warning to British nationals who are considering a move abroad, advising them to plan for the unexpected before they move to a new destination and has created a top ten tips for moving abroad checklist.

UK expat travel

For those considering joining the six million British nationals currently living abroad, the checklist aims to help transition into expat life.

‘The appeal of warmer climates and experiencing different countries and cultures is strong for many British citizens. We want to pave the way for our expats to have the best experience possible when they move abroad,’ said Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Mark Simmonds.

The FCO staff last year helped a number of British expats with a variety of issues, with many people facing heavy fines, financial ruin or finding themselves on the wrong side of the law because they were not fully prepared.

‘Our consular staff across the world have dealt with a high number of British expats requiring assistance for financial issues, whether as a result of a house purchase gone wrong, having inadequate funds to pay for medical bills or experiencing some other misfortune that has resulted in financial hardship,’ Simmonds explained.

These cases involved issues such as property disputes, bankruptcy caused by changes in personal circumstances, pension complications and unexpected health issues. A recent FCO report also suggests that high hospitalisation and death rates occur in areas where large numbers of elderly British nationals reside, notably in Europe and South East Asia.

‘It’s important to do your homework so that you are well informed about your new environment before you travel. We have put together a checklist to help people prepare fully before travelling abroad,’ said Simmonds.

For those considering joining the six million British nationals currently living abroad, the FCO hopes that its checklist will help to ensure a smooth transition into expat life and beyond.

It says that the most important thing is to do some homework and research your destination. This can involve visiting forums and expat community resources to help get a feel for the area.

It says to read up on local laws and customs and familiarise yourself with local regulations and advises people not to rush into buying a property abroad. A good idea is to visit the area where you want to live and not be rushed into decision. Buyers abroad should also seek independent legal advice and not succumb to from a property developer or estate agent. The FCO’s website has lists of English speaking lawyers.

People are also advised to plan for their health as once they permanently leave the UK they are no longer entitled to medical treatment under the NHS or via a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC.) It advises people to take out health insurance.

Long term financial requirements should be considered. The advice says to read up on the impact moving overseas may have on any benefits or retirement income received and to be realistic about living costs overseas as many people assume that they will be the same as at home. Would be expats are advised to read up on tax regulations and research the taxes that will be applicable to you in your new home as well as back in the UK once you have moved abroad. Exchange rates need to be taken into account when it comes to financial planning.

The guidance also points out that an essential part of a successful move abroad is integrating into the local community. Expats should try not to isolate themselves make an effort to learn the local language as this will play an important role in helping settle in.

 

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