Moving to the UK

It seems to be a common misconception that an American can just pick up and move to the UK just because they’d like to, there's a "special friendship" and we share the English language.

This is entirely untrue, you need to qualify for a visa to move to the UK!

The main ways that US nationals come to the UK are as visitors, as fiancee’s/spouses/civil partners of UK or EEA nationals, or tied to studies, employment or investment. With all of these categories, it is essential to prove that you will not need to be supported by state funds (ie welfare) once you get here, and that you have somewhere to live. It is important to note that not just *any* job can get you a work permit, and a casual relationship (ie one where you have not been living together and do not yet intend to marry) will not give you enough ties to emigrate. The Visa section will give some detail on the different categories, and give links to government departments which contain the information you will need.

If you have questions about the process, please post them on our dedicated UK Visa discussion board.

Things You Should Know

There is a great post on our forum by one of our members, who moved to the UK over 15 years ago. There are many things that people don't think about when considering moving, being excited and/or in love and naturally they can be carried away by that. After seeing people post about their struggles on our forums for almost a decade, she made some good observations.

"You can move here and make a life and be happy, but there are some things that I think would be a good idea to ask yourself.

UK Visas & Immigration

UK Immigration is pretty simple and to the point, you may not need a lawyer. You can do the paperwork yourself if it is an uncomplicated situtation (such as for fiance and spousal visas).

There are several different ways of emigrating to the UK, and finding the right one for you can get complex, so make sure you do all your research before you buy your ticket!

Just Visiting the UK?

Tourists/visitors from the United States usually do not need Advance Entry Clearance, also called a Visitor Visa. Be aware that as a visitor to the UK, it is against a violation of the terms of your visit visa to do any work or look for work.

If you have previously been refused a Visa, if you have previously been refused entry into the United Kingdom, or if you have a criminal record you will need to apply for a Visit Visa before you wish to travel to the UK.

Electronics Compatibility

US-to-UK Electronics

One of the most often asked questions is what electrical devices you can bring from the US. The UK has a completely different electrical standard, voltage, frequency and plug type. This website and its author(s) will not be held responsible for any accidents or lawsuits that occur from following this advice, it is not professional electrician advice.


Shipping Your Stuff to the UK

For those who want to bring more of their possessions than can be brought as luggage, here are some of your options.

Moving Pets to the UK

The British have no rabies in their country, and want to keep it that way. (At the end of 2002, they had their first case in 100 years, from a bat bite in Dundee, Scotland.)

Formerly, all pets (dogs and cats) had to go through a 6 month quarantine before being able to enter the UK. Finally, the Pet Travel Scheme became available, which the US was recently included in it’s list of allowed countries!

Visit our affiliate partner

UK Yankee is a resource and community for expatriate Americans living in or planning to move to the UK, established in 1999. Please join the discussions in our friendly expat community.