Expats: How Many Things Did You Check on the FCO Issues Checklist Before Planning a Move Abroad?

 | Fri 20 Sep 2013 10:28 ICT

CityNews – Many expats just seem to fall into Thailand without giving much thought about the big move, while others study meticulously what life abroad might be like, how they might diffuse culture shock, and how they might survive in places located in the hot tropics. Below is a list compiled by the British FCO. Did you think about all these things before you came to Thailand?

The reason the list was put together, says the FCO, is because of the growing number of problems expats face, often because they haven’t thought through their move.

The FCO writes: “FCO staff last year helped a number of British expatriates with a variety of issues, with many people facing heavy fines, financial ruin or finding themselves on the wrong side of the law because they were not fully prepared.

These cases involved issues such as property disputes, bankruptcy caused by changes in personal circumstances, pension complications and unexpected health issues. A recent FCO report* also suggests that high hospitalisation and death rates occur in areas where large numbers of elderly British nationals reside, notably in Europe and South East Asia.”

Here’s the list:

1.   Do your homework – Research your destination, visit forums and expat community resources to help get a feel for the area.

2.   Read up on local laws and customs – Familiarise yourself with local regulations and customs, don’t get caught out because you haven’t done your research. The FCO’s Know Before You Go page on gov.uk has more information.

3.   Don’t rush into buying abroad – Take time to visit the area and other properties nearby, don’t be rushed into decision and ensure you are familiar with local protocol.

4.   Seek independent legal advice – Don’t feel under pressure to use your property developer’s or estate agent’s contacts, check out the gov.uk website for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s English-speaking lawyers lists – it is vital that your legal advisor understands the law in the country you intend to move to.

5.   Plan for your health – Once you permanently leave the UK you are no longer entitled to medical treatment under the NHS or via a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Be sure to take out health insurance and if you are staying within the European Economic Area (EEA), read up on the S1 form (previously known as the E121 form). For more useful information visit the NHS moving abroad page.

6.   Consider your long-term financial requirements – Read up on the impact moving overseas may have on any benefits or retirement income received. Be realistic about your living costs overseas; don’t assume they will be the same as at home. Do you have a plan B if things go wrong? Visit our state pension abroad page for more details.

7.   Read up on tax regulations – Be sure to research the taxes that will be applicable to you in your new home (as well as back in the UK) once you have moved abroad.

8.   Know the costs – Don’t forget to take into account exchange rates and potential financial implications of moving overseas.

9.   Tell us you’re leaving – You need to notify the Social Security Office, HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Work & Pensions that you are moving overseas, as well as your GP. For a full list of who to contact, visit our retiring abroad page

10.         Integrate – An essential part of a successful move abroad is integrating into the local community. Try not to isolate yourself and do make an effort to learn the local language, this will play an important role in helping you settle in to your new home.