Straight off the plane: What's next?

Straight off the plane: What's next?

After all those weeks of preparation you've finally arrived at your new home. So what are your new priorities? Follow the FCO's pointers…

Register with the local authorities

This may give you access to the local welfare services after a short period of time. If you are moving to another EEA country you need to apply for a residence permit within three months of arrival.

Open a foreign bank account

Within the EEA you can apply for a non-resident back account on arrival. Once your residence permit has been granted, you can open a normal bank account.

Learn the local language

You will find day-to-day life much easier if you can speak the local language and it's a great way to integrate with the local community.

Make a will

If you die intestate abroad, this can cause difficulties for your heirs. Seek professional legal advice – the local British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate can provide a list of English speaking lawyers.

Check local traffic regulations

You can drive on a UK licence in EEA countries, but once you have gained residence status you may need to swap your UK licence for an EEA national licence. Licences are valid for five years for 45-70 year olds and two years thereafter. For other countries you will also need an International Driving Permit (IDP), which must be obtained before you leave the UK.

Find out about British Associations

There may be clubs, publications and charity organisations for the expatriate community.

Keep your vote

Once registered as an overseas elector, you will be able to vote in Parliamentary elections and European Parliamentary elections in the UK, but not in local elections or elections for Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly or the Northern Irish Assembly. Visit

Health Insurance

If you are under retirement age and will be habitually resident in the country you are intending to live in, it is essential you take out health insurance. Make checks with your local health provider regarding requirements for that country.

Telephone Numbers

Immediately compile a list of emergency numbers including police, ambulance, fire, doctors, Embassy/ High Commission, utilities (electric, water, gas) and also include a list of people to contact in an emergency.

Copy of your passport

Ensure you keep a copy of your passport in a safe place and complete the next of kin information.

Have a contingency plan

Ensure you have a contingency plan if things go wrong, e.g. sudden illness, lack of funds, lack of mobility etc. Make a list of 'what if' questions and work through contingencies.

Inform family and friends in the UK

If not already, ensure that you provide relatives and friends with contact details for you abroad along with friends/ neighbours details who they can contact should they not be able to reach you.

Familiarise yourself with local area

Spend time in the first few week to familiarise yourself with the area, pin-point key facilities such as police and local hospital.


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