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Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Old Sep 10th 2020, 7:30 am
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Default Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Hello all,

I recently watched Heathrow: Britain's busiest airport and there was an 80 year old lady on there called Elizabeth (Season 6 episode 3 - available on ITV hub). She was a UK citizen coming back and it sounded like she was going to have all sorts of problems as she lived outside of the UK for over 5 years, meaning she lost her residency. I assumed being a UK citizen, she would be able to come back without any issues. Although she was seeking government help for housing, NHS etc.

My question is, if you live outside of the UK longer than 5 years and decide to return permanently, what challenges will one face (regardless of age)? Would I be able to come and get a job in the UK after being away for over 5 years for example? I found limited advice on the Gov.uk website, mostly around tax implications.
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 8:09 am
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by dj322 View Post
Hello all,

I recently watched Heathrow: Britain's busiest airport and there was an 80 year old lady on there called Elizabeth (Season 6 episode 3 - available on ITV hub). She was a UK citizen coming back and it sounded like she was going to have all sorts of problems as she lived outside of the UK for over 5 years, meaning she lost her residency. I assumed being a UK citizen, she would be able to come back without any issues. Although she was seeking government help for housing, NHS etc.

My question is, if you live outside of the UK longer than 5 years and decide to return permanently, what challenges will one face (regardless of age)? Would I be able to come and get a job in the UK after being away for over 5 years for example? I found limited advice on the Gov.uk website, mostly around tax implications.
As a British citizen all you need to return to the UK to live and work is your UK passport, no matter how long you've lived elsewhere.
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 11:04 am
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by spouse of scouse View Post
As a British citizen all you need to return to the UK to live and work is your UK passport, no matter how long you've lived elsewhere.
+1

My wife and I returned after 29 years away, just showed passport on entry, no questions asked. We had other things to do such as register with the NHS since the system including NHS numbers had all changed.

A year after us our son returned after 30 years away, same thing, walked in through passport control no questions asked. (I was with him when he returned as I spent a couple of weeks in Texas helping him pack).
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 1:49 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by dj322 View Post
..... and it sounded like she was going to have all sorts of problems as she lived outside of the UK for over 5 years, meaning she lost her residency. I assumed being a UK citizen, she would be able to come back without any issues. Although she was seeking government help for housing, NHS etc. ....
If you're not "ordinarily resident" in the UK then you may have issues getting government assistance, such as for housing, and if you have been living outside the UK then it might take 90 days to regain your status as an ordinary resident, but otherwise it sounds like a faux drama cooked up to make the TV show more interesting.
.... My question is, if you live outside of the UK longer than 5 years and decide to return permanently, what challenges will one face (regardless of age)? Would I be able to come and get a job in the UK after being away for over 5 years for example? I found limited advice on the Gov.uk website, mostly around tax implications.
There is limited advice because of the advice you have been given above by Durham Lad and Spouse of Scouse - it is a total non-issue. As a British citizen you can show up whenever you like and start work as soon as you have a job, or set up as self employed. This applies even if you have never prevously lived in the UK, having acquired citizenship from (one of) your parents. Under those circumstances you would need to apply for an NI number, but if you have previously lived and worked in the UK and already have an NI number then that applies for life, and the NI office will help you find it if you have lost your record of it.
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 7:23 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

There are restrictions on access to funding for students, until they have been resident again for 3 years. there may be restrictions on access to benefits (Habitual Residency Rule) Getting a job in the "Security Organs" might be problematic. establishing a Credit History. Cannot think of any more problems.
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 7:43 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by dj322 View Post
Hello all,

I recently watched Heathrow: Britain's busiest airport and there was an 80 year old lady on there called Elizabeth (Season 6 episode 3 - available on ITV hub). She was a UK citizen coming back and it sounded like she was going to have all sorts of problems as she lived outside of the UK for over 5 years, meaning she lost her residency. I assumed being a UK citizen, she would be able to come back without any issues. Although she was seeking government help for housing, NHS etc.

My question is, if you live outside of the UK longer than 5 years and decide to return permanently, what challenges will one face (regardless of age)? Would I be able to come and get a job in the UK after being away for over 5 years for example? I found limited advice on the Gov.uk website, mostly around tax implications.
When we moved back after several years, no problems at all, and within a week had registered with GPs,, local council, applied for housing benefit, No problems, this was in 2008, so things may well have changed. Had to be imterviewed at the local council office, but all they asked was whether we owned property abroad, No., and whether we had money in accounts abroad, No, and we just signed a form to say that.
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 7:47 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

I had no problems getting accommodation from a Housing Association although I had lived abroad for 30 years. i was fortunate in that I found an area that has an abundance of empty flats in the public sector, and a minimal waiting list. 10 years later I am still here.
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 7:57 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by spouse of scouse View Post
As a British citizen all you need to return to the UK to live and work is your UK passport, no matter how long you've lived elsewhere.
Do you really need a valid UK passport, or just have proof of UK citizenship such as a birth certificate?
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 8:41 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

I went and watched that section of the program and the problem Elizabeth was having is that she was returning with nowhere to go to, no family to stay with, and asking to be housed and looked after. She had a U.K. passport and had gone through passport control and was sitting in arrivals asking for help. What family she had, a son, lived in Florida and she had come to London with a list of numbers such as “Shelter” to call as she had been assured that she would be taken care of on return. The son had wanted her to stay with them in Florida.

Heathrow staff, not border control were the ones offering to get her in contact with an organization that can help and they arranged for social services to take care of her. She had not been resident since the 1960s and since she had been a non-resident for more than 5 years she was not eligible for benefits and since she was homeless it was the local council’s responsibility to sort something out. It sounded very much like she had no right to residence but that was not the case, she was admitted into the country.

Last edited by durham_lad; Sep 10th 2020 at 8:43 pm.
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 8:50 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by durham_lad View Post
I went and watched that section of the program and the problem Elizabeth was having is that she was returning with nowhere to go to, no family to stay with, and asking to be housed and looked after. She had a U.K. passport and had gone through passport control and was sitting in arrivals asking for help. What family she had, a son, lived in Florida and she had come to London with a list of numbers such as “Shelter” to call as she had been assured that she would be taken care of on return. The son had wanted her to stay with them in Florida.

Heathrow staff, not border control were the ones offering to get her in contact with an organization that can help and they arranged for social services to take care of her. She had not been resident since the 1960s and since she had been a non-resident for more than 5 years she was not eligible for benefits and since she was homeless it was the local council’s responsibility to sort something out. It sounded very much like she had no right to residence but that was not the case, she was admitted into the country.
If she was a Brit with a Brit passport the Border officials had no choice but to let her in.
Her being eligible for benefits and housing would have been questionable.
Pity the local authorities who have this type of situation thrown at them.
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 8:57 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
Do you really need a valid UK passport, or just have proof of UK citizenship such as a birth certificate?
Do you really need a UK passport for what? - to get benefits?

A UK birth certificate does not prove British citizenship. You could have been born in the UK (after 1982) to non Brits who were not settled and you only lived in the UK for 5 years..... you would not be a Brit citizen
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 8:59 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by SanDiegogirl View Post
If she was a Brit with a Brit passport the Border officials had no choice but to let her in.
Her being eligible for benefits and housing would have been questionable.
Pity the local authorities who have this type of situation thrown at them.
Exactly.
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Old Sep 10th 2020, 9:03 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
Do you really need a valid UK passport, or just have proof of UK citizenship such as a birth certificate?
That was irrelevant in this case as she said she was not born in the UK but was born to UK parents and she was in possession of a valid British passport. Her birth certificate would not have helped.

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Old Sep 10th 2020, 9:14 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by SanDiegogirl View Post
..... Pity the local authorities who have this type of situation thrown at them.
Not really, it's not exactly a surprise to them, cases like this are hardly going to be uncommon and in any case it's quid pro quo for having a large driver of economic activity in their city/ borough/ county, so [1] creating many jobs, which generate local income and therefore expenditure and further economic activity, and [2] a large number of business premises on which business rates are assessable. The downside is the odd ball cases as we're discussing here, that land in their lap.
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Old Sep 11th 2020, 4:31 pm
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Default Re: Moving back to the UK after living abroad over 5 years

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
Do you really need a valid UK passport, or just have proof of UK citizenship such as a birth certificate?
I'd just add it's really not that hard to renew or get a first passport even when living outside the UK. It would make identification for health care and any other benefits that much easier for everyone. In my mind, that would be a top priority before planning a move back.
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