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It’s estimated that around 200,000 US expats are currently living in the UK. American citizens move to the UK for many reasons, most commonly to join a partner or work.
The UK appeals to expats because it’s closer to other countries in Europe, it offers free health care to all residents (in addition to other state services), and there are plenty of job opportunities. Still, moving to a new country is challenging, and that’s why it’s good to know a few important things about this transition.
Moving to UK From USA Checklist
Here is a concise overview of how to move to the UK from the US:
- Get a UK visa and residence permit.
- Prepare to move your things.
- Find accommodation.
- Open a bank account.
You can get help with moving to the UK from the United States at Sirelo. You can get up to 5 free quotes and connect to a leading international moving company that suits you best.
Get a UK Visa and Residence Permit
Contrary to popular belief, you need a visa to move to the UK if you are an American citizen. The only exception to this is that if you are visiting with no long-term plans, you can stay in the UK without a visa for six months – but you cannot work during your visa-free stay.
Since the UK offers several immigration options, you have to do some research and see which one suits you best. The following work visas offer a pathway to getting a permanent residency – or your indefinite Leave to Remain (IRL):
- Skilled Worker visa
- Health and Care Worker visa
- Intra-company visas
- Minister of Religion visa (T2)
- International Sportsperson visa
Also, as an American citizen, the visa application process is slightly different for you, so make sure you know exactly how to apply for a UK visa before submitting your application.
Prepare to Move Your Belongings
There are essentially two ways you can ship your belongings to the UK when you move:
- By air. This option is fast, but it’s costly. So, if you are travelling on a budget, you should consider sending your belongings by ship.
- By ship. The cost of transporting your household and personal items by ship is almost five times cheaper than by air. However, it takes several months to receive your things. If you want to use this option, consider moving your things a few months before your trip.
To save up to 40% in moving fees, you can get in touch with an international moving company through Sirelo.
You should also keep in mind that when you move your things, you must evidence every single item you are taking with you. In addition to this, you have to fill out an application for transfer of residence relief (ToR1) so you don’t have to pay customs charges for your belongings. You can find the form here.
It’s important to remember that you need to prove your “Right to Abode” to rent in the UK. So you must provide your current passport and evidence that you are legally staying in the UK either temporarily or permanently. In addition, you can provide your BRP or a valid document issued from the Home Office supporting your legal stay in the UK.
Before you move, you should do your research to have a rough idea of how much renting or buying costs in the UK. Most expats recommend visiting the UK and seeing the places in person, and since US citizens can stay up to 6 months without a visa this shouldn’t be an issue.
Open a Bank Account
You need a bank account to rent in the UK, but you can’t get a bank account without an address. This is one of the biggest obstacles expats have to overcome when moving to the UK. However, there are several options available for you:
- You can hire a relocation agency. The agency will help you find properties that are suitable for you, especially if you have pets. Your consultant will also connect you with an estate agent who will negotiate the terms of your tenancy and provide support letters. If you are moving with the “Intra-company transfer” pathway, your company may already have a preferred agency they work with.
- You can open a bank account with the help of your bank in the US. Your bank in the US may help you open an account in the UK if they have a branch or are partnered with a bank there.
- Find a UK bank with international account options. Some banks in the UK provide options for international accounts for non-residents that you can open from abroad. A few of the most popular banks for expats are the following:
- Lloyds Bank
How Can I Immigrate to the UK from the USA Without a Job Offer?
To immigrate to the UK without a job, you have to meet the criteria for other non-work visas:
|UK Ancestor Visa||You can apply for this visa if you have evidence that one of your grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. Usually, you can stay for up to 5 years with this visa, but then you can apply for your ILR.|
|Investor Visa||To get this visa, you must have at least £2 million ($2,760,000) to invest in UK’s economic growth.|
|Global Talent Visa||To get this visa, you need to be an expert in academia, research, arts and culture or digital technology.|
|Innovator Visa||For an innovator visa, you must have a business idea about something that has not been done before in the market and you need an eligible sponsor.|
Moving Pets to the UK From USA
You can bring your cat, dog, or ferret with you if you move to the UK from the US. But, you have to make sure that your pet meets the entry requirements to avoid quarantine or having to send your pet back. Your pet must be:
- Vaccinated against rabies.
- Equipped with a health certificate.
In addition to this, you must also provide evidence that your dog was treated for tapeworm 24 hours before you travel with your dog. If your pet needs to be quarantined, you cannot transfer them to the quarantine premises, instead, your pet will be moved by an authorized official- you can check the details here.
If you have another pet (other than a cat, dog, or ferret), you can still bring them, but you must follow different guidelines. The Home Office provides you with all the necessary details on their webpage.
Moving From the US to the UK for College
You can move to the UK for your studies if you’ve been accepted to an approved institution. In this case, you need to apply for a student visa. If your visa application is successful, you can live in the UK for up to 5 years while you finish your degree.
After you graduate, you can apply for one of the following:
- Post-work study visa. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for two more years, work or find a job so you can switch to a work visa.
- Graduate entrepreneur visa. You can apply for this visa if you have an innovative business idea and you want to establish that business in the UK.
Joining Family Members in the UK From the US
You can move to the UK to join a family member. Usually, the most common visa applications are to join a partner, but you can also apply for one of the following:
- Family visa to join a parent.
- Family visa for relatives who need long-term care.
Moving to the UK From the US for Retirement
The UK no longer provides a retirement visa for foreign nationals. However, if you have enough money, you may be eligible for an investor visa and move to the UK to spend your golden years. But, you should be aware that age is a determining factor whether you get a visa or not.
Is It Hard to Move to the UK as an American Citizen?
It’s not hard to move to the UK from the US if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You have a job offer there.
- Your company is transferring you.
- You are moving to join a partner or family member.
- You have some kind of ancestral relationship with the UK.
- You have enough money for investment.
Anyone who does not belong to these categories might have a more challenging time getting a long-term residence permit.
Cost of Moving to the United Kingdom for Americans
Generally speaking, you need to have at least $20,000 up to $40,000 depending on your situation and how you plan your moving process. You should be aware of the following expenses:
|Types of Expenses||Cost||Notes|
|Visa fees||$2,000- $3,000||Keep in mind other fees that go with your application, such as the cost of translating documents, submitting your biometrics, or courier service. Also, the visa fee is liable to change depending on what type of visa you apply for.|
|Healthcare surcharge||$860||This fee is usually paid when you apply for your visa.|
|Flight ticket||$1,000||The average price for a flight ticket from the US to the UK is around $1,000, but you may find cheaper tickets down to $160.|
|Shipping costs||$6000-10,000||If you choose to ship your things by sea it’s cheaper than by air, but it may take up to 5 months to get your belongings.|
|Rent||$1,200||Some of the cheapest apartments in London costs $1,200 per month. But, the rent fees differ from city to city- it all depends where in the UK you move to.|
|Bringing pets||$6,000||This includes vet bills, vaccinations, transportation crate, airline fees and transportation fees.|
|Personal savings||$1,750||You need to have at least $1,750 when you first arrive in the UK.|
These are just the general expenses you need to keep in mind. In addition, you have to consider travel health insurance fees, payments to change your cell provider, car rentals, furniture purchase after you arrive, and so on.
Do I Need Health Insurance When I Move to the UK?
You don’t need health insurance when you move to the UK. As a result of the health care surcharge you pay when you apply for your visa, you can access the NHS, which is the UK’s free national health care plan. However, some expats prefer to have private health insurance to avoid waiting times in the NHS. In that case, you can purchase health insurance if you want to.
Can I Get UK and US Citizenship?
You can get both US and UK citizenship. But, while US/UK dual citizenship comes with many benefits, it also has its disadvantages. The biggest downside is that US citizens are usually required to file taxes in the US, even if they are not living or working there. However, due to tax treaties with the UK, you may not be required to pay taxes or have reduced taxes- you should check with the IRS before you plan your move.
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How can a US citizen live permanently in UK? ›
If you complete five years employment in the UK and spend at least 185 days per year in the UK in each of these five years, you will generally be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (permanent residence).How can an American get a visa to live in the UK? ›
Basic Documents Required for Work Visas
Valid passport or travel ID. Proof of financial means enough to support you during your stay (bank statements or sponsor confirmation). Proof of payment of the healthcare surcharge. TB test if you will stay longer than six months and are a citizen of a listed country.
- Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status)
- Prove you have right of abode in the UK.
- Apply to stay in the UK as a stateless person.
Contrary to popular belief, you need a visa to move to the UK if you are an American citizen. The only exception to this is that if you are visiting with no long-term plans, you can stay in the UK without a visa for six months – but you cannot work during your visa-free stay.Can a US citizen just move to the UK? ›
As an American citizen, moving from the US to the UK to travel, study, and live is permitted for up to six months at a time. However, you cannot work during this period. If you want to hold down a job, you'll have to have a suitable visa. There are UK work visas for just about every possible profession.What is the easiest country to move to from the US? ›
Which are the easiest countries to immigrate to from the US? Portugal, Malta and Spain are some of the easiest countries to relocate to from the United States. American citizens can either gain permanent residency or apply for citizenships via each country's Citizenship by Invest programs.Can I move to the UK without a job? ›
Yes, you can move to the UK without a job if you have enough money to support yourself and if you are born to British parents or qualify for one of the following visa's: Tier 5 Youth Mobility (this is country and age-restricted) UK Ancestry. Right to Abode.How can I immigrate to UK from USA without job offer? ›
- UK Ancestry Visa. You can apply for a visa if you meet the general eligibility criteria, and you can prove that one of your grandparents was born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. ...
- British National Overseas Visa. ...
- Investor Visa. ...
- Global Talent Visa.
Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This means you can be a British citizen and also a citizen of other countries. You do not need to apply for dual citizenship. You can apply for foreign citizenship and keep your British citizenship.Can American citizen stay in UK? ›
Check if you need a visa to visit the UK
have to apply for a Standard Visitor visa before you travel to the UK. be able to visit the UK for up to 6 months without needing a visa.
How can I move out of the US permanently? ›
If you're planning to move out of the US permanently, or even give up your US citizenship, then you need a second passport. You can move to certain countries for 5 years and then apply for citizenship, or you can buy a passport and have it in hand in 90 days to 8 months.Can an American get a job in England? ›
Do I Need a Work Visa to Work in London as an American? (can Americans work in the UK?) Unless you've got UK ancestry or a current visa that allows you to work in the UK (for example, you can work 20 hours per week under a Tier 4 Student Visa) you'll need a work permit to work in the UK.What country do most Americans move to? ›
So, where do American expats go? The majority of U.S. citizens living abroad can be found in our neighboring countries of Canada and Mexico. That being said, hundreds of thousands of Americans have successfully ventured to faraway countries such as the Phillipines, Italy, and South Korea.What is the cheapest country for an American to live in? ›
10 Cheapest Countries in the World to Live In
Philippines. Portugal. Vietnam. South Africa.
Singapore. 1) Denmark tops the list as the safest country in the world. It has a low crime rate and there's almost no risk of natural disaster. People enjoy access to high-quality healthcare, with the country spending over the European Union average – 10.1% of gross domestic product (GDP).How hard is it for an American to move to England? ›
Is moving to the UK easy? Americans hoping to move to the UK will need to obtain a visa. The most common type of visas are the UK work visa and family visas. If neither applies in your case, unfortunately moving to UK from US can be difficult.What is the easiest way to move to UK? ›
- Tier 1 Visa for highly skilled immigrants through a points-based system.
- Tier 2 Visa.
- Skilled worker visa for individuals who are sponsored by an employer in the UK.
- Tier 5 Provisional Work Visa through the Youth Mobility Scheme.
In order to live in the UK, you'll need to have a valid visa. The type of visa you need will depend on your reason for relocating. There are several categories of visas, including work visas, student visas, and family visas. Moving to the UK to work from outside of Europe will usually need a work visa.How much money do I need to move to the UK? ›
Quick answer: The average cost of moving from the US to the UK is $3800 to $6850. The size of your move is the most significant cost factor. Additionally, the service you choose, time of year, and mover can affect the cost.Is it hard to get a job in UK as a foreigner? ›
Working in the UK as a foreigner can be difficult, but it has many benefits. The most important thing to do is to research what you need before coming over and make sure you have all of your documents in order.
Can I move to UK without sponsorship? ›
UK visas without sponsors
Visit visas, family visas, and graduate visas do not require a sponsor in the UK. It is solely the work visas that require sponsorship in the UK. Most work visa, especially long-term ones, requires sponsorship for the application process.
A U.S. citizen may naturalize in a foreign state without any risk to his or her U.S. citizenship. However, persons who acquire a foreign nationality after age 18 by applying for it may relinquish their U.S. nationality if they wish to do so.What are the disadvantages of dual nationality? ›
Drawbacks of being a dual citizen include the potential for double taxation, the long and expensive process for obtaining dual citizenship, and the fact that you become bound by the laws of two nations.Does the UK allow triple citizenship? ›
Multiple citizenship, such as triple citizenship, is possible with the UK. Since there is no requirement under UK law to renounce or give up previous citizenship or nationality, it is possible to apply for UK naturalisation where you already hold multiple citizenships.How much bank balance is required for UK visa? ›
You'll need either: £1,334 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses in London. £1,023 per month (for up to 9 months) for courses outside London.How long can an American stay in UK without visa? ›
If you have permission to be in the UK for less than 6 months. You may be able to extend your stay as long as the total time you spend in the UK is no more than 6 months.How hard is it for a US citizen to move to the UK? ›
Is moving to the UK easy? Americans hoping to move to the UK will need to obtain a visa. The most common type of visas are the UK work visa and family visas. If neither applies in your case, unfortunately moving to UK from US can be difficult.How long can a US citizen live in the UK without a visa? ›
You can usually stay in the UK for up to 6 months. You might be able to apply to stay for longer in certain circumstances, for example to get medical treatment.How do you qualify to live permanently in England? ›
If you've lived in the UK for 5 years, you may be able to apply to stay permanently. Indefinite leave to remain is how you settle in the UK. It's also called 'settlement'. It gives you the right to live, work and study here for as long as you like, and apply for benefits if you're eligible.Can I retire in the UK as a US citizen? ›
Citizens from outside the UK can retire in the country only if they are: Granted settled status as a permanent resident. Eligible to apply for settled status after five years of residence on a valid UK visa.
Is immigrating to UK easy? ›
It's hard to move to the UK if you don't have a job, family members who live there, enough money, or distinguishable talents. This also depends on where you're from. For example, EU citizens can get a long-term visa easier than other nationalities.Can a US citizen rent an apartment in UK? ›
Now the answer is fairly straightforward: you cannot occupy a rental property in London (or the UK) unless you have the right to reside in the UK – that means a valid visa if your nationality does not give you the right to reside in the UK.Can Americans buy property in UK? ›
So, can foreigners buy property in the UK? There are no legal restrictions on foreigners buying property in the UK, regardless of if you are a resident or not. You also don't need a visa for foreign investment in UK residential property.Can I live in UK if I buy property? ›
Can expats buy a house in the UK? There are no legal restrictions on expats buying property in the UK. Foreigners and non-residents can also get a mortgage in the UK. However, those with less than two years of residency in the UK and without a job may face more stringent requirements and a bigger deposit.How many years does it take to get UK permanent residence? ›
If you have lived in the UK for 5 or more years, you should be able to apply for permanent residence in the UK.What is the number 1 place to retire in the world? ›
The Top 25 Best Countries to Retire in
With an overall score of 81%, Norway comes in at number one as the most retirement-friendly country on the list.
Dual citizenship (also known as dual nationality) is allowed in the UK. This means you can be a British citizen and also a citizen of other countries. You do not need to apply for dual citizenship. You can apply for foreign citizenship and keep your British citizenship.How many Americans live in UK? ›
There were approximately 166 thousand American nationals residing in the United Kingdom in 2021, an increase from the 131 thousand American nationals residing in the United Kingdom in 2008.