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WHEN we think of retiring to another country what comes to mind, for most of us, is a move from the UK to a sunshine destination such as the Costa del Sol.

But for many expats the move is in the other direction. They have spent years living and working abroad and now they are planning a return to Britain.

It is, on the face of it, an easier move. You are, after all, a British citizen. You know the UK. But the country you left will have changed quite a lot and there is a web of rules and regulations to navigate before you can settle back in.

Here are some pointers that will make the move a little easier.

As a British citizen and resident you will pay taxes on both your UK income and gains, and any foreign income and gains, unless your permanent home remains outside the UK. You should register for a self-assessment, especially if you’re an entrepreneur or if you will continue earning foreign income once you’ve returned to Britain.

Make sure you understand and settle all outstanding payments in Spain or any other country where you have been living. If possible, have your health and dental records sent back to the UK. Once received, they can be entered into the NHS data system, which will create a more complete picture of your health profile. You may need an official translator to transcribe your files into English – the NHS won’t accept documentation in other languages.

It is easier to look for a permanent home from inside the country, so arrange a temporary place to stay. Once you are certain about the move, sell your property abroad – it is very difficult to co-ordinate the purchase of a house in Britain with the sale of a property in Spain.

You will probably want to send money home before you actually make the move. If you have kept your British bank account open, you can transfer money directly into it. If you open a multi-currency account, you can hold and manage money in several different currencies, paying bills in the currency that suits you. You can use bank transfers to move your money to the UK but be aware that banks often impose steep surcharges for this service.

If you have a pension abroad, you should consider moving it back to the UK. Take advice on this, for the value of this move varies with circumstances, but UK pensions have favourable terms, and having a domestic pension can remove holdups when you need access to your money.
It is probable that your foreign pension will be in a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). Under this scheme, the British government has created a framework for individuals who want to return home eventually. You can transfer it to any approved UK pension pot without paying taxes or penalties or you can leave where it is, and when the time comes to withdraw benefits, you will be taxed as though it were a domestic UK pension.
You may be entitled to a refund if your pension has already been taxed abroad, since UK pensioners expect to pay less than 30% tax.
Many British advisers won’t be trained or authorised to work on international pensions. The Woodbrook Group has qualified professionals who can offer advice on QROPS which, you can rest assured, will fulfill all the legal requirements. If you would like to know more about your options in relation to your pension, please do not hesitate to contact us at pension@woodbrookgroup.com.

Wherever you intend to retire, planning is the key to success. The Woodbrook Group can offer advice on how to ensure that your pension savings are improved and protected so there are no unpleasant surprises when the time comes. We can help you understand your options, how to address your income needs in retirement and how much wealth you will need to support it.

*For more information, contact our team at the Woodbrook Group Office in Marbella: Av. Ricardo Soriano, 72 Edificio Golden Portal B, 1ª Planta 29601 Marbella, Málaga, Spain.
Telephone: +34 952768471
Email: officemarbella@woodbrookgroup.com

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