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Moving to the UK

What Options do Americans Have to Retire in the UK?

So you’ve decided you’d like to retire in the UK!  What options are there for an American to retire here and is it a realistic goal? I’ve done the research for you. Find out if it’s possible to live here as a citizen or resident with “indefinite leave to remain”.

As an American citizen who’s considering whether or not to retire in the UK, you’ll want research from the official Gov.uk site to help guide you. I’ve outlined the main paths to citizenship.

retire in the uk

Cheap Street in the town of Frome, Somerset.

Your Best Options to Retire in the UK

  1. As a family member or partner of British citizen
  2. As a family member or partner of a settled resident
  3. You already have a retired person visa
  4. You’ve settled in the UK before
  5. You’ve been in the UK legally for 10 years
  6. You’re in the UK on a UK ancestry visa
  7. You’re eligible for an Investor Tier 1 visa (see update below)
  8. You’re eligible for an Innovator visa

Unfortunately, the UK recently retired it’s “Retired Persons” visa.

The Retired Persons visa was an affordable way to live in the UK with reasonable income requirements (a minimum income of £25,000 per year) and gain permanent settled status as a Retired Person of Independent Means but is no longer offered.

Eligibility required a close connection to the UK either through family ties, business or residence so it wasn’t suitable for everyone. If you’re already in the UK under this visa, you still have the option of extending it.

retire in the uk

The lovely seaside town of Lyme Regis on the Dorset coast.

Exploring Your Options to Retire in the UK

Unless you have family connections, have lived in the UK for a long period or are currently in the UK on an existing visa, your options to retire are limited. Check to see if these options to retire in the UK may apply to your situation:

Option 1

You’re the family member or partner of a British citizen. Learn more here.

Option 2

You’re the family member or partner of someone who has settled in the UK. Learn more here.

Option 3

You have a retired person visa. Learn more here.

Option 4

You’ve been settled in the UK before. Learn more here.

Option 5 

You’ve been in the UK legally for 10 years. Learn more here.

Option 6

You’re in the UK on a UK ancestry visa. Learn more here.

Option 7

Investor Tier 1 Visa

UPDATE: February 2022 – according to BBC news, this investor visa, which was introduced in 2008, is being discontinued effective immediately over concerns about misuse.

You can no longer apply for a new Investor (Tier 1) visa. If you already have this visa (or had one in the last 12 months and it was your most recent visa), you can still apply.

Eligibility for a Tier 1 visa was tough!

    • have at least £2 million in investment funds 
    • be 18 or over
    • able to prove the money belongs to you, a spouse or unmarried or same-sex partner
    • open an account at a UK regulated bank to use these funds
    • these investment funds must be free to spend or disposable in the UK
    • have a current passport or another valid travel ID
    • a criminal record certificate from any country you’ve lived in for 12 months or more in the last 10 years
    • a letter of evidence from the UK bank account holding your funds

Give evidence of your funds origin and

    • how much you have and where it’s held
    • where it came from if you’ve had it less than 2 years
    • can funds be transferred to UK and converted to sterling

Additional information you’ll need if the money is your partner’s

    • certificate of marriage, civil partnership or proof of long term relationship of at least 2 years
    • statement from your partner allowing you control of the funds
    • a legal advisors letter stating your declaration is valid

Additional documents may be required depending on your circumstances. This type of  Tier 1 Visa can be extended and a Tier 1 Visa holder’s family members are eligible to also apply for a visa.

retire to the uk

Famous Gold’s Hill in Shaftsbury, Dorset

Live in England for 6 Months Guide

Other Options to Retire in the UK?

The UK government has also discontinued it’s affordable Entrepreneur Tier 1 Visa so that is no longer an option.

As an alternative you can apply for an Innovator visa, which is limited to those businesses that are different than any other in the current marketplace. Could be a tall order! However this visa can’t be extended so it’s not recommended for those seeking to retire or settle permanently.

Keep in mind, most of these options are open to non US citizens as well. In fact if you’re from a commonwealth country like Canada or some EU countries you may have different options to settle in the UK that aren’t open to Americans. 

Before you get too discouraged, I recommend visiting or staying for up to 6 months. Try life in the UK on for size. Be sure this is where you want to retire. Even with the common language and culture, the lifestyle and amenities may be very different than what you’re used to. You may find that having the best of both worlds – a home here in England a home in the US – is the best way to retire. You can open a bank account and buy a home here without citizenship. Unfortunately that doesn’t entitle you to live here full time but it’s a start!

This information comes from the official Gov.uk website and will remain as up to date as the official source. During my research I found articles that weren’t entirely accurate or were out of date due to the UK government discontinuing some visa options. I’m not a lawyer nor am I offering legal advice, so please do your research and good luck!