Returning to the UK

This page provides information about some of the actions you may need to take if you are a UK national living abroad and you are returning to the UK permanently.

Ending your time living abroad

The government has published guidance for UK nationals living abroad, including actions you need to take to return to the UK from the country you currently live in. 

Bringing family members to the UK

Family members who do not have UK citizenship or settled status will be able to live with you in the UK following a successful application for a family visa. Family members with UK citizenship or settled status will not need to apply for a visa.

Bringing pets to the UK

Guidance is available on how to bring a pet dog, cat or ferret to the UK. There’s a different process for other animals.

Moving personal belongings to the UK

You have tax and customs responsibilities when you move your personal belongings to the UK from abroad.

Tax if you return to the UK

You may need to take action to ensure you are able to pay UK tax, for instance by registering for Self-Assessment. UK residents pay tax on UK income and gains and must also pay tax on any foreign income and gains.

Access to benefits

UK nationals considering returning to the UK and planning to make new applications for benefits should check eligibility requirements.

Access to housing services

You should check your eligibility with your local council if you intend to apply for housing services such as council housing or homelessness assistance. If you are considering returning to the UK you should ensure that you have secured somewhere to live prior to returning. If you need any advice or assistance to do so, contact either the local council in the area you are considering returning to, or a local advice agency – such as Citizens Advice – to discuss the housing options in the area.

Access to NHS services

To get free NHS healthcare you will need to prove that you’ve returned to the UK to live and you meet the ordinary residence test.

For more information on access to healthcare in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, visit the websites for health services in each country:

Access to adult social care services

You can apply for a needs assessment from social services if you need access to services such as help in your home or residential care in England or Wales.

For information on access to adult social care services in Scotland and Northern Ireland, visit the websites for social care services in each country:

Transport assistance

You may be eligible for assistance with your transportation when travelling to the UK, such as receiving help at an airport. You may also be eligible for assistance once resident in the UK, such as access to the Motability Scheme and a disabled parking badge (blue badge) or a disabled or older person’s bus pass.

Driving licenses and vehicle insurance

EU and EEA-issued driving licences will continue to be recognised after Brexit. If you hold a non-EU/EEA driving licence, you will either need to exchange your licence for a UK licence, or in some cases, apply for a new UK driving licence and retake your driving test. Further information is available on exchanging your licence.

If you’re bringing an EU-registered vehicle to the UK, you will need to obtain a motor insurance Green Card or valid proof of insurance from your insurer. If you are bringing a trailer or caravan alongside your vehicle, you will need a separate Green Card for each vehicle.

VAT on vehicles imported to the UK

Notify HMRC about vehicles brought into the UK from abroad using the online Notification of Vehicle Arrival Procedures (NOVA) system to ensure that VAT is correctly paid.

Access to primary and secondary schooling

If your child is aged 4 or over, contact your local council in England to find out how to apply for a state school place. State schools do not charge fees for education.

For information on school places in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, visit the websites for school places in each country:

For families with younger children, guidance is available on childcare.

Recognition of professional qualifications

You may need to ensure your professional qualifications are recognised if you intend to practice in a regulated profession in the UK. Contact the relevant regulator to find out how to have your qualifications recognised.

Further guidance is available on how professions and services will be regulated if there’s a no-deal Brexit.

Published 3 October 2019