Frequently Asked Questions
Here we answer many frequently asked questions, they provide general information about buying and selling international property.
If you don’t find the information you need, please let us know and we will do our best to assist as quickly as possible.
- What are the extra costs to buying property overseas?
- Do I need a Lawyer when buying property overseas?
- Can I rent out my property overseas to earn extra income?
- Do I need to open a local bank account?
- Can I live and work abroad?
- Should I use a UK or overseas mortgage?
- What about Foreign Currency and other money matters?
- Can I still claim my pension after relocating overseas?
- Am I entitled to healthcare after relocating overseas?
- What about Driving laws?
- Where are the best places to buy property overseas?
- Are there any useful websites for those buying overseas property?
The extra costs you incur will depend upon which country you are buying in but in most cases taxes, land registry charges etc will add to the purchase price of property abroad. Think carefully about what these will add to the cost and whether it is still viable for you.
When you buy property abroad there are normally a series of duties to be paid to the government of that nation. This varies from country to country but may include, among others: Stamp Duty, Transfer Tax, Value Added Tax, Capital Gains Tax
You should budget for using a Lawyer which should be considered essential when you buy property abroad and will help you avoid expensive errors because you are not experienced in buying overseas property.
Further legal and other services you may have to use include: Estate agents, Property finding services, Translators, Notaries, Surveyors
Other charges which you may incur when buying overseas property include registration and mortgage fees. The typical additional cost of buying overseas property is between 10 and 15%.
Too many overseas buyers make the mistake of believing they can handle buying property overseas themselves. The law is different in other countries and pitfalls await those who do not use the appropriate legal services when buying their overseas property.
Before making an offer on properties overseas you should also obtain the services of a lawyer who is expert in both UK and International law. They should be bilingual if necessary and be well versed in tax and inheritance laws of the country you are buying property in.
At this stage you should be considering how your property abroad is purchased. This can have massive implications for the amount of tax your inheritors pay and taking professional advice is recommended.
Buyers very often let their property abroad in order to raise extra income. Many investors buy property purely for rental purposes. Buy-to-let purchases are common amongst those looking for overseas investment property.
Before committing yourself, you must think about which apartments or villas abroad are suited for holiday accommodation for paying guests. Give careful consideration to location, average local rents and proximity of swimming pools, golf courses etc to your property.
There are often legal requirements which landlords must adhere to when renting out property overseas. These will vary depending on where your properties are located.
The following costs should also be considered: promotion, advertising, tax and insurance.
Most purchasers of overseas property will need to open a local bank account. The process of opening an account is not usually difficult or slow, but you may need help in completing the application forms if you don’t speak the local language. You may need some or all of the following documents: Your passport, your birth and/or marriage certificate, several copies of passport photographs, proof of where you are living abroad (and possibly in the UK also), proof of your status in the country i.e. employed, retired, student etc.
Official banking hours vary enormously from one country to another. Even within Europe, where they normally open Monday to Friday at least, there is no uniformity of hours.
UK citizens have been relocating overseas for centuries and are able to move to most places in the world these days. Each country has its own immigration policy but those relocating to an EU country, are able to do so without needing a work permit or visa. Arrangements may change once the UK leaves the EU so please check carefully.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both options. Which you go for will depend upon your personal circumstances but the right decision can mean a great deal more money to enjoy after relocating.
The first thing you should do is work out what you can afford. It is recommended that you have a mortgage in place before you start looking at properties overseas. This means you would know exactly what you can offer when you see a property which interests you.
You should consult a financial advisor to determine whether a UK or International mortgage is best for you. This will also have a bearing on the inheritance of properties overseas in the event of your death.
Currency issues can make your property overseas a good deal more expensive or cheaper in a short space of time. This can significantly affect your monthly mortgage payments.
Owners of overseas property must know any local currency restrictions.
Foreign currency fluctuations can have a significant effect on the amount of money you pay when you buy property abroad. If you are buying in a country with a foreign currency then you should not underestimate the impact this can have upon your purchase of overseas property. Sterling can fluctuate sharply against foreign currency meaning overseas property can become considerably more or less expensive overnight.
UK state pensions can normally be paid anywhere in the world. Company and private pensions should be the same but it will depend on the individual insurance company. Determine what the situation is before committing to buying property overseas.
If you are to be receiving a pension overseas there is action you can take to minimise the amount of this income which is liable to tax.
There are a few things you need to do regarding pensions overseas before moving abroad. Firstly, you should contact the Pensions Service to advise them you will be moving abroad. You can write to them at:
International Pension Centre Long Benton
Newcastle upon Tyne
Tel: 0191 218 7777
You should also check out the situation with regards to any personal or occupational pensions you might have. After doing so, you should speak to a professional financial advisor before moving.
Your entitlements to healthcare will depend on where you are relocating to. The service is free of charge in some countries whilst taking out private insurance is a must in others. Checking the level of entitlement is vital if you are relocating overseas.
The UK Department of Health’s website contains a lot of useful country-by-country information about healthcare provisions and is a good place to start your research.
Depending on where in the world you are planning to buy property, you may need inoculations against certain diseases. Check out the World Health Organisation’s country-by-country health status and inoculation recommendations.
If you are planning on living abroad for any length of time, one of the most important things you will do is to select the right type of expat health insurance. The level of cover you need will depend very much on exactly where you are planning on living abroad, and whether residency status allows you any healthcare locally.
The more remote the location of your overseas property, the more weight you should place on your expat health insurance providing for emergency repatriation and air ambulance cover. Such cover may be less important if you are going to be living abroad in northern Europe or Florida. In these countries, and especially in the USA, the maximum level of cover for medical bills and hospital in-patient treatments might be considered more of an issue.
Most owners will want to have access to a car and the road network. Quite apart from needing to know the basic highway code such as whether to drive on the right or the left, who has priority at roundabouts, and speed limits (which may vary depending on prevailing weather conditions), there are also different rules about seat belts, what constitutes roadworthiness, and the carrying of minors and compulsory equipment. The latter can vary widely from regulations in the UK.
For detailed advice about driving laws in European countries, see the Automobile Association’s Travel Advice section.
This depends upon what you desire from a property overseas and whether it is a residential home or an overseas investment property that you are buying. Give careful consideration to this.
The Internet may well become your new best friend when going through the process of buying property abroad, moving overseas and settling into living abroad. Below are just a few of the multitude of websites which can help you make the most of your new property.
www.britishexpats.com – Website for Brits. abroad with information on various ex-pat communities living abroad.
www.expatfocus.com – Website with extensive resources for expats, plus lively forums.
www.shelteroffshore.com – News about property abroad for people living abroad.
www.britishclubworldwide.com – News, humour and features for homesick Brits. who have bought property abroad.
www.direct.gov.uk/BritonsLivingAbroad/fs/en – Government website offering advice for those moving overseas.
www.helpiammoving.com/moving_overseas/index.php – Advice and checklist for those moving overseas.
www.giveyourselfabreak.com – Resources for people wanting to break free of the rat race and create a more flexible and portable working life which can be run from anywhere – from your garden or your property abroad.
www.expats-shoppingarcade.com – Online shopping resource enabling ex-pats to buy their favorite products whilst living abroad.
www.expatessentials.co.uk – Home delivery shopping outlet for over 8000 British brand foods and house care products.
www.who.int – World Health Organisation’s website giving up to date country-specific advice for travelers and expats living abroad.
www.fco.gov.uk – Website of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office giving country specific advice on British government diplomatic policy. Also provides up to date travel advice for expats living abroad on legal, safety and security issues.
www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/index.htm – Follow the link to Pets Travel Scheme for detailed explanation of the PETS passport which allows pets living abroad to return to the UK without the need for quarantine.