Official information British people moving to and living in the United States of America (USA) need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.
Before you go
See our travel advice for the USA for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.
Laws vary from state to state. When you are physically present in a state, even temporarily, you are subject to that state’s laws.
Visas and residency
See entry requirements for the USA in our travel advice.
You can get a police certificate, if you’ve been asked to provide a copy of your police records as part of a visa application.
See our travel advice for the USA.
The USA and the UK do not have reciprocal healthcare agreements. You should buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you enter the country.
You should also make sure you’re covered by health insurance for UK treatment or you’ll be charged by the NHS for any care you receive in the UK.
The NHS has information for people moving abroad.
Working in the USA
You are only allowed to work in the US if you hold one of the following:
- employment-based immigrant visa
- temporary employment visa
- green card (permanent resident card)
- work permit (employment authorisation document)
US employers may not recognise your UK qualifications. There are US companies that can work out the US equivalence of UK qualifications. You should contact individual state education authorities for further information.
Some jobs may require a criminal records check (known as a DBS check in the UK).
We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in the USA.
You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.
Life certificates for UK state pensions
If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.
Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.
Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.
Driving in the USA
See travelling with pets.
The emergency telephone number in the US is 911.
If you need consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.
Accommodation and buying property
Other useful information
- notary and document services in the USA
- state government: find contact information for US states
- American Bar Association: how to find a lawyer
Returning to the UK
To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.
Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the United States authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.