How to plan financially for a return to the UK

This communication is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute, and should not be construed as, investment advice, investment recommendations or investment research. You should seek advice from a professional adviser before embarking on any financial planning activity. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information contained in this communication is correct, they are subject to change and we are not responsible for any errors or omissions.

There are lots of reasons why British expats might choose to return to the UK. Maybe you need to be nearby to care for an elderly relative. Perhaps retirement overseas did not work out exactly as you hoped and it is time to go home.

Whatever the case, it is vital to have a clear plan for the financial aspects of repatriation. There can be hidden costs which catch expats by surprise. Below, we identify some of the key areas to know about so you are ready for them!

We hope this content is helpful. If you want to discuss your financial plan with us, please get in touch to arrange a no-obligation financial consultation, at our expense:

+34 966 460 407


Think about income

British nationals can freely return to live in the UK whenever they like (unless you are held up in your host country). However, it can take a while to re-establish your finances back home.

If you are receiving an income whilst living as an expat in Spain, for instance, will you continue to receive this after repatriating to the UK? If you work for a local company and intend to resign from your post, then you may need savings to cover, say, 3-4 months’ worth of UK living costs as you set up with a new job, housing and rights to public services/benefits.

If you receive income from UK pensions (e.g. schemes based in the UK and/or your State Pension), then accessing this should not be a problem when you move home. However, you may need to make certain arrangements.

For instance, if your UK State Pension has been paid into a local Spanish bank account, then you will likely need to contact the Pension Service to redirect this into a UK account.

If you have moved your pension pot(s) to Spain using a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS), then you may be able to transfer this back to the UK. This can make it easier to withdraw money and the running costs for your pension may be lower.
However, the transfer itself can be complex and costly (e.g. sometimes involving a tax liability). So, speak to a financial adviser before doing anything.

If you have built up a pension in your host country, then be careful not to forget this and leave it behind! You may wish to speak with the UK-based International Pension Centre for more information.


Think about tax

If you plan to return to the UK permanently, then you may need to tie up some loose financial ends in your host country. For instance, if you need to submit a Spanish tax return, then it is generally wise to do this before you leave (i.e. between 11 April and 30 June of following the end of the tax year).

The Spanish tax year runs from 1 January until 31 December. So, if you move back to the UK during a given year and need to pay Spanish tax between 11 April and 30 June the following year, you may need to do this online.

Fortunately, this is possible to this via the Spanish tax authority’s website. However, bear in mind that you will need a digital identification certificate to file. To get this, you need an NIE (número de identidad de extranjero) – a national identification number for non-Spanish residents. This is not the same as a social security number.

Of course, leaving Spain for the UK does not necessarily mean selling your Spanish assets. Maybe you have a property in Murcia, or another area, which you want to continue letting out. In which case, you will need to navigate the UK-Spain “double tax treaty” to avoid paying tax twice on the same income.

Be careful not to neglect your taxes when repatriating. The UK and Spain are both engaged in the mutual Automatic Exchange of Information to help stop tax avoidance and evasion.


Special considerations

There may be special circumstances that are driving the need to return home. For instance, maybe you need long-term care which cannot be adequately provided in your host country. In which case, be mindful that arranging care from abroad can be complex.

Normally, a local council in the UK will only assess your eligibility for care funding if you are physically present. You also need to prove that you are “ordinarily resident” in the area. If you do not meet the criteria, the council may decide it has no responsibility for you.

In which case, one option could be to live in private care temporarily, until you set yourself up with “ordinary residence”. After that, you could apply for a care needs assessment.

As a general rule, the earlier you plan your repatriation to the UK, the better. It can open up more opportunities for tax savings, managing assets, reviewing bank accounts and seeking professional advice.



If you are interested in discussing your own financial plan or inheritance tax strategy with us, please get in touch to arrange a no-commitment financial consultation at our expense:

+34 966 460 407

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