When Americans want to retire in the UK what are the options? Here’s what you need to know if you want to retire to England and settle here permanently.
Besides the financial aspects, who’s entitled to live here as a citizen or a person with indefinite leave to remain?
If you’re an American citizen interested in retiring in the UK, I’ve been doing some research on the Gov.uk site to find out what your options are.
Options to retire in the UK
- as a family member or partner of British citizen
- as a family member or partner of a settled resident
- you already have a retired person visa
- you’ve settled in the UK before
- you’ve been in the UK legally for 10 years
- you’re in the UK on a UK ancestry visa
- you’re eligible for an Investor Tier 1 visa (see update)
- you’re eligible for an Innovator visa
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.
What are your options to retire in the UK as an American citizen?
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:
You’re the family member or partner of a British citizen. Learn more here.
You’re the family member or partner of someone who has settled in the UK. Learn more here.
You have a retired person visa. Learn more here.
You’ve been settled in the UK before. Learn more here.
You’ve been in the UK legally for 10 years. Learn more here.
You’re in the UK on a UK ancestry visa. Learn more here.
Investor Tier 1 Visa – Learn more here
UPDATE: February 2022 – according to BBC news, this investor visa, which was introduced in 2008, is being discontinued effective immediately over concerns about misuse.
If you aren’t eligible to retire in the UK through any of the above visa programs, then currently your best option is an expensive one. It’s a visa that requires a significant investment into a UK bank account.
To be eligible for a Tier 1 visa you must
- 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
You’ll need to 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.
The good news is this type of Tier 1 Visa can be extended.
A Tier 1 Visa holder’s family members are eligible to also apply for a visa.
Other Visa Options
The UK government has also discontinued it’s affordable Entrepreneur Tier 1 Visa so you no longer can apply.
As an alternative you can apply for an Innovator visa which is limited to businesses 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, consider visiting or staying for up to 6 months to be sure this is where you want to be. It can be a very different lifestyle to get used to even with the common language and culture!
All of 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!