In his 2021 Budget statement, Australian Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, estimated that the restrictions on overseas travel – the “Fortress Australia” policy – should end by mid-2022.
Recent statements from the Prime M,inister about “living with the virus” rather than eradicating it, suggest that the restrictions may end earlier. The recent positive news about vaccination rates suggest it could be “sooner rather than later.”
So, if you’re a Brit looking to return to the UK, or an Australian planning a move, now is a good time to start planning your journey if you haven’t already done so.
Here are seven things you can do now, so you’re in good shape for when you’re finally able to go.
1. Start putting together your plan
Moving your family and yourself from Australia to the UK is not something to do at short notice.
Of course, there could be specific employment or family issues that are outside your control but the more preparation and planning time you have, the better.
A successful move involves a lot of planning. Exactly how much will clearly depend on your individual circumstances.
If you have substantial assets that you’ll be leaving in Australia – at least in the short term – the planning will be more complex than if you have just been in Australia for a couple of years and haven’t laid down deep roots.
In any event, the best time to start your planning process is now.
2. Ensure your financial arrangements are in place and up to date
A key part of your planning process will be managing the financial issues relating to your move. These will include:
- Disposal and management of assets in Australia
- Financial issues relating to your actual move
- Costs and financial administration for settling in the UK.
A useful first step is to make sure all your paperwork is in order, so that when you come to start dealing with key financial arrangements – mortgage, savings, investments, and the like – you know exactly where everything is and their current status.
3. Check your passports, visas, and insurance
It’s a simple one, but you’d be surprised how many people face an unexpected bump in the road when it comes to their move because their passport wasn’t up to date, or they didn’t have the correct visa in place.
To save any last-minute angst in this regard, it’s worth checking your passports now! It’s also worth talking to an expert regarding visa requirements.
Also check your insurance policies. Travel insurance is clearly an important one, but it’s also worth reviewing your current property and household insurance to see if they could be affected by your absence.
4. Start planning your currency exchange
If you are planning to transfer a lot of money from Australia to the UK, it makes sense to minimise transaction costs, and to make sure you’re getting the most from your Australian dollars.
As you can see from the chart below, the AUD to sterling exchange rate can fluctuate over an extended period.
It’s likely you’ll be moving a substantial sum of money, so getting the best possible exchange rate could save you thousands of dollars. Rates have fluctuated by more than 9% in the past 12 months. By using a currency specialist, you’ll probably be able to fix an exchange rate to mitigate any short-term fluctuations.
You should also be able to set up a multi-currency account to reduce transaction charges or avoid them entirely.
5. Inform your super administrators, and check your investments
If you’ve been working in Australia – either in your home country or as a visitor – you are likely to have accrued money in a super fund.
You won’t be able to transfer your accrued fund to the UK, so you should take steps to ensure it’s effectively managed on your behalf while you’re abroad.
You’ll need to inform the administrators of your super fund, or funds, that you’re moving. It’s also worth checking that you’re happy with how they are investing your funds.
If your ultimate intention is to retire in the UK, consider speaking to a pension specialist now, so you can start planning how to access your super. This will be especially important if you’ll be retiring in the next couple of years. There are various steps you can take to ensure you mitigate tax on your super as far as possible, so the sooner you start the planning process for this, the better.
6. Make arrangements for managing your Australian property
If you own property in Australia and are not planning to sell it at this stage, you should register with a dependable letting agent to manage it on your behalf. There are several key benefits to doing this, including:
- It gives you peace of mind knowing that someone has responsibility for your property
- They can manage rent issues to ensure you get regular income
- They can also manage maintenance issues to keep the property in a good state of repair.
Be aware that the taxation of rental income will depend on your residency status. So, we would strongly recommend you consult with a tax expert who has experience in this field.
Selling your Australian property could leave you liable to UK Capital Gains Tax, depending on when you sell the property. An experienced tax adviser will be able to help you work out the most advantageous time to sell, subject to you having the flexibility to do this.
7. Decide where you’ll be living in the UK
When you move or return to the UK, you’ll obviously need somewhere to live.
If you already have residential property in the UK, moving back into it should be relatively straightforward. Again, this is another issue where advance planning will stand you in good stead on your return.
If you don’t have property in the UK, you’ll need to make other arrangements. These will include deciding where you want to live and arranging a mortgage, if applicable.
Get in touch
Nearly all of the issues you’ve read about here are financial, and we can’t overstate the importance of getting professional advice when it comes to planning and enacting your move.
So, when you first start thinking about moving to the UK, please get in touch with us.