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Can I still choose to go and live in another country?

It is now 3 years since Brexit, and we are gradually seeing many of the changes that this has made to our lives in the UK. The situation has been further complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic happening just after Brexit, and then the war in Ukraine, and it can be difficult to keep up with what is happening and why.

For example, if you want to go and live in another country, can you still do that? How does Brexit affect what you can and can’t do in the EU? And what about countries further afield – such as Australia, New Zealand and America? Have the rules changed there too?

In this article we take a look at some of the basic rules for relocating to Europe, USA, Australia and New Zealand. We will explain:

  • Visa requirements for living in another country
  • Work opportunities in another country
  • Financial considerations when moving to another country


Visa requirements for living in another country

Here are a few guidelines about visa requirements for different countries:

  • Europe

Since Brexit, the UK no longer has special status with other European countries and is now defined as a “third country”, which means a nation outside of the EU. As covered in our recent article Ten tips for travelling to Europe in summer 2023, you can stay in the EU for up to 90 days during any 180-day period. But if you want to stay longer you will now need a visa. 

Visa requirements vary between countries, and it’s best to check out the specifics on the Gov UK Living in Europe web page. Usually the first thing to do will be to make contact with the embassy or consulate of the country you want to move to. Some examples of visa requirements in EU countries are:

  • France

To stay in France for longer than 90 days you will need to apply for a long-stay visa. If this is granted, you will then have a year to apply and obtain a residence permit from your local prefecture.

  • Spain

The first step is to apply for a temporary visa that will allow you to stay in Spain between 3 months and 5 years, depending on your circumstances. Once you have lived in Spain for 5 years, you will be able to apply for a permanent residence visa.

  • Germany

If you want to live in Germany, you will need to apply for a residence permit within 90 days of arriving in the country. The German government has a tool to check whether you would be eligible for a residence permit.

  • Italy

To live in Italy you would first need to apply for a Long Stay visa which, if successful, would allow you to stay in Italy for between 3 months to 2 years. If you want to stay longer, you need to apply for a residence permit within eight working days of arriving in the country.

  • USA

UK citizens can visit the USA for up to 90 days by registering for an ESTA – the US Electronic System for Travel Authorization. The USA ESTA is valid for multiple entries for up to 2 years from the date of issue or the date of passport expiration if this is sooner.

If you want to live and work in the USA on a temporary basis, you will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa. To live there permanently, you need to apply for an immigrant visa or green card, which will need you to be sponsored by either a US citizen, permanent resident relative, or prospective US employer.

  • Australia

British citizens can apply for a tourist visa – usually either an eVisitor visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA), both available via iOS or Android App. Tourist visas are valid for a year and allow multiple entries with a maximum stay of between 3 and 12 months. 

It may also be possible to become a permanent resident of Australia if you meet the eligibility criteria. The most common ways of doing this are via either a Skilled Work visa or a Family visa if you have a partner, child or parent in the country. The numbers of visas allocated to each migration program vary from year to year but this means that there are usually some migration options available.

  • New Zealand

If you are staying in New Zealand for up to 6 months you will not need a visa, but will need to get a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA) before you travel. If you want to stay in New Zealand for longer than 6 months, or you plan to work in the country, you will need to apply for a visa that permits you to do this.

There are various types of temporary and residence New Zealand visas that are open to British citizens. These include the Partner and Children visa, Working Holiday visa and EssentialSkills visa. 

And if you want to make New Zealand your permanent home then after 2 years on a residence visa you can apply for a Permanent Residence visa. This visa will allow you to live, work and study in New Zealand indefinitely, travel freely to and from New Zealand and bring your partner and eligible children to New Zealand.


Work opportunities in another country

If you are moving to another country because you have already been offered a job there, your employer should be able to help you with the visa application process. However, if you want to move to another country then look for work, you need to make sure that this will be able to happen. Again, the best thing to do is to check out the Gov UK Living in Country Guides and/or contact the embassy or consulate of the country you want to move to.

In most EU countries you’ll now need a work permit if you’re a UK citizen. In some cases, you may also need a job offer from your chosen country before you can get a visa to move there.

In the USA you will only be allowed to work if you hold one of the following:

  • employment-based immigrant visa;
  • temporary employment visa;
  • green card;
  • work permit (employment authorisation document).

Both Australia and New Zealand have a range of work visas that UK citizens can be eligible for, depending on how long you plan to work for and the type of job you plan to do. But it is important to clarify this in advance rather than just turn up and hope for the best.

Be aware that if you have professional qualifications these may not automatically be recognised in your chosen country: you may need to go through a process to become recognised by that country. 

Also be aware that some jobs – particularly in the US – may require a criminal records check (similar to a DBS check in the UK).


Financial considerations when moving to another country

If you are planning to emigrate, there are various financial considerations to bear in mind. Let’s take a quick look at three key areas:

  1. Getting your affairs in order;
  2. Having enough money to start off with;
  3. Having enough savings for your visa or residency application.


Getting your affairs in order

If you move to another country, many things will be very different. So it is worth spending time and effort before you go to get your affairs in order. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Open a new bank account in the country you are moving to before you go, and start moving money into it. This will make things much easier once you get there.
  • Check your position with your UK tax and National Insurance. Make sure your payments are up to date and check whether and when you will still have to make payments for the next couple of years.
  • Sort out your pension(s). If you are moving abroad permanently you need to make sure that money is paid into your new overseas account when you retire.
  • Look into the cost of healthcare. In most countries you will need to pay for healthcare, and it’s a good idea to get this sorted in advance. If you are initially moving to Europe on a temporary basis you can use your GHIC or EHIC (Global or European Health Insurance Card) for a temporary stay of up to 90 days but will not be able to use it once you’re registered to live and work in that country.
  • Be aware of your credit history. Credit history doesn’t transfer when you emigrate so you will need to rebuild your credit rating in your new country. 


Having enough money to start off with

If you are moving to another country you will need a fair amount of money to do this. As well as the costs of travel and removals, you will need enough money to pay for accommodation once you get there, including perhaps a security deposit. You will also need a financial buffer to live off for a while until you either get paid by your employer or build up another source of income.

And don’t forget there may still be costs at the UK end, depending on what you are doing with the property you are leaving, and whether you need to pay for goods to be stored.


Having enough savings for your visa or residency application

Another financial consideration to be aware of is that many countries require some kind of income check if you are applying for either a longer-term visa or permanent residence. Most countries would expect you to evidence that you have enough regular income to cover your living expenses. 

Additionally, some countries and visas have extra affordability criteria. For example, if you want to retire to Spain you would now need to apply for a non-lucrative visa. This enables you to live in Spain but not work there. You would need to prove that you have sufficient and guaranteed means to live on, which is currently judged to be €28,800 per year, plus €7,200 per dependent.


We hope that the above tips are a helpful starting point if you are considering moving abroad. If you need more information, or are interested in finding out more about living in another country, check out the Gov UK Living in Country Guides

And if you need any additional funding in the process, remember that Munzee Loans offer online loans that may be able to help.

Check back here soon for more lifestyle and financial tips from Munzee Loans.