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Expatriate Family Checklist: Moving back to England or Wales

If you've lived outside the UK and considering moving back, there are some key legal points to consider before you do.

There may be many reasons why you are returning to live in England or Wales after living abroad. Perhaps someone is homesick? Maybe the job opportunity abroad no longer meets your lifestyle needs? Whatever the reason, there are some key legal points to consider before returning to England or Wales.

Have you had permission to return home with the children?

This can often be overlooked. If you are the primary carer of the children, you will still need to seek permission from those who have parental responsibility or rights of custody, before you return home. If permission is not sought, this could be considered child abduction. Ideally, permission should be given in writing, without conditions attached. In some circumstances, a court order may be required. If permission is refused, you will need to make an application to the court to formally relocate.

Mirror court orders

If you have a court order regulating your children’s arrangements in the country where you have been living, you may want, or need, to have a ‘mirror order’ in England or Wales. This is an order reflecting what was previously agreed and will be enforceable in this jurisdiction.

Notify HMRC

You should have notified HMRC that you left the UK, and you will now also need to notify HMRC that you are returning. You do not need to tell HMRC if you are leaving the UK for holidays or business trips, so long as you are resident in England or Wales.


You can leave your overseas pension abroad, or you may want to transfer it to England/Wales. There may be financial and tax implications for transferring your pension to this jurisdiction, so you should seek specialist advice before you do so.

Bank accounts

Just because a bank account is abroad does not mean that it should not be disclosed in the event that you are required to give full financial disclosure of your affairs. Consideration should be given to whether that bank account abroad serves a purpose for you anymore.

Estate Planning

Your estate planning needs may have changed if there has been a change in circumstances. For example, if you have separated or if your domicile has changed, this could affect how your estate will be distributed and what tax will be payable when you pass away.

Review your documents including:


Although foreign wills can be recognised in England and Wales, it is important to make a will here to ensure that your assets in England and Wales are dealt with properly. If you still have assets abroad, you can make a will in England that refers to worldwide assets. In those situations, we would usually have regard to the succession law in the country where the assets are held, and we may also liaise with advisors in that country, to ensure that all assets pass as intended. Your domicile is also an important consideration as this could affect the tax position and your will would normally make reference to this.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

It is important to make a lasting power of attorney in England and Wales as the foreign equivalent to a lasting power of attorney is not easily recognised in this jurisdiction. It will also be important to ensure addresses are updated in the lasting power of attorney deed, to include your address in this jurisdiction. Lasting powers of attorney can be made in relation to property, finance, health and welfare. You should also make a separate lasting power of attorney in relation to any business assets you own here.

Pre- or post-nuptial agreements or cohabitation agreements

Any time you have a major life event you should review any agreements you may have with your partner or spouse. Often there are jurisdiction clauses within these agreements. You should look to see whether these clauses still serve their purpose, and whether it is time to review your agreement.

If you'd like further guidance on what you need to be aware of regarding moving back to England and Wales, please speak to one of our expert international family lawyers.

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