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International Relocation for Expats in the United Kingdom

Submitted: August 2013

When relocating to a different country there are a number of things to consider - visa requirements, work permits, how to find a job, how to find the right apartment, where to open a bank account, when to pay taxes, how to ship your belongings from your old home to your new home... This can be a challenging process. Therefore you will have to be very organised if you are arranging everything yourself. Our Expat Briefing articles provide helpful guidelines in this respect. However, you may also wish to consult one of the specialised relocation companies to assist with your relocation.

Relocation companies

A number of relocation companies have emerged over the past years to make the relocation process for expats more enjoyable. These companies can take care of shipping your belongings to the new country. They can also offer more comprehensive assistance by helping you find the right apartment, job and school, offering guidance on administrative procedures and advising on how to settle into the new environment. A clear advantage of opting for a relocation company is that it will save you a great deal of administrative work and ensure that your relocation meets all rules and regulations in the destination country.

You can either look for a good relocation company in your home country or in the country of destination. Make sure to compare the prices in advance and check the reviews online. Examples of companies offering relocation to UK include:   

Moving your belongings

If you are planning your relocation yourself, you should consider how to best send your items to the UK. Most airline companies will only allow one or two pieces of personal luggage when travelling into the UK. Sending items via post or express delivery services such as DHL or UPS is only recommendable for lesser quantities. For larger quantities it is best to choose one of the specialised shipment companies and opt for a good insurance. These companies can also ship your pets and vehicles to the UK. Examples of shipment companies include:

Note that if you are moving to the UK from an EU country, there are no restrictions on the personal items you may take with you and no import taxes or duties. If you are relocating from a non-EU country, your belongings may be subject to certain restrictions, duties and taxes. However, in general most household items and personal belongings that were owned for at least 6 months prior to importation can be imported duty free. Upon entering the UK you will need to declare cash amounts of over EUR10,000 to customs officers. The importation rules differ for those staying in the UK temporarily, e.g. for international students. To find out more see HMRC Notice 3 and HMRC Tax on Personal Items.

Importing your vehicle

If you wish to take your car or motorcycle to the UK from an EU country, note that you may only drive with foreign licence plates in the UK for up to 6 months. After that, you will have to register your vehicle with the DVLA - Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency. For that purpose you can order a Vehicle Import Pack from the DVLA.

Additionally, you will have to insure your vehicle with a British motor vehicle insurance company. To search for suitable insurance providers see the Website of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association. You will also need to obtain an MOT for your vehicle and pay the applicable taxes. To read about further regulations, see the GOV.UK Guide on Importing Vehicles into the UK.

Different rules apply if you are importing a vehicle registered in a non-EU country. In this case you will need to contact HMRC - Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs upon entering the UK. To read more see the HMRC Notice.

For more information on driving in the UK see Driving and Public Transport for Expats.

On how to relocate to the UK with your family and/or pets see: Relocation with Families and Pets for Expats in UK.



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