Moving to the UK / Retire

What Options do Americans have to Retire in the UK?

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 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.

Americans have to Retire in the UK

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:

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.

Americans have to Retire in the UK

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 VisaLearn 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.

Americans have to Retire in the UK

Live in England for 6 Months Guide

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 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!

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  • Paul
    January 31, 2022 at 8:11 PM

    I went through the steps of applying for British Citizenship with the UK Government. I sent all the documents required and payments but got snagged on the minor detail that I apparently overlooked or misunderstood that only the fathers citizenship is taken into consideration, not the mothers. My mom was a UK immigrant to the US after WWII and married my father who was a Maltese immigrant from prior to WWII. And even though Malta was a UK possession at that time it still doesn’t count.

    I keep checking and I hope I live long enough to be able to move to the UK in the future, as I lox do not have the price of admission per the UK requirements.

    • Tessa
      February 1, 2022 at 10:05 AM

      Hello Paul – It must be frustrating not to be able to move forward with your plans to move to the UK. I can certainly understand that!

      What I can tell you is that within the past 10 years, my son who was born in the US, was able to get a British passport on my birth record. So that means it’s possible to obtain citizenship through a mother who was born here. You didn’t mention whether or not your mother was born in the UK.

      Obviously I’m not an immigration lawyer or expert so I can only point to the official information available. As each case is highly individual it’s difficult to give blanket recommendations, but usually having a family member born or resident in the UK is a path to citizenship.

      Hopefully you can find that loophole or advice that will allow you to move back to the UK!

      • Paul
        February 12, 2022 at 12:45 AM

        I’ve been remiss with responding to your answer.

        My mother was born in the UK in 1919. Unfortunately, due to laws in existence at that time and for too long afterward, women didn’t really count for the claim to citizenship. While the rules and laws were changed, say there were no arrangements for people from prior to that date. (I think it was women born after 1977 but I’m not positive. I went through the immigration process, using the UK website and sending all the requests documents and payments needed. The spoiler was that due to the inane laws, my mothers citizenship doesn’t count! And I am very aware that inane laws exist in every country, especially the US where I am a citizen. I never lived in the UK, just visited family whenever I could.

      • Tessa
        February 14, 2022 at 10:00 AM

        That’s difficult and I’m sure frustrating for you to find out that your mothers birth record doesn’t entitle you to citizenship. In fact having a British born parent isn’t a slam dunk to a child gaining citizenship. This is what I found on the site. Eligibility may depend on birth date.

        “British citizenship is normally automatically passed down one generation to children born outside the UK.

        For example, you might automatically become a citizen if you’re born outside the UK to a British parent. But your children will not automatically be citizens if they’re born outside the UK.

        If you’re not automatically a citizen, you may be eligible to apply to ‘register’ as one.

        Check your eligibility if you were born:

        on or after 1 July 2006
        between 1983 and June 2006
        before 1983″

  • Carol
    December 19, 2021 at 4:16 PM

    So much for my moving to England. I’ve visited it many times, and I am in fact a direct descendant for Edward I. I have a decent US pension as well. But it doesn’t sound like I can ever move there, as ai’m not a billionaire. What a shame.

    • Tessa
      December 20, 2021 at 9:48 AM

      I understand your frustration Carol. It’s a shame the UK govt have retired the “Retired Persons” visa and made it more difficult for the average person of means to live here full time. I plan on doing an article on possible options for gaining residency status with familial or relationship ties. Look for it in the new year!

      • Ellen Hudson
        January 22, 2022 at 1:15 AM

        My daughter (US citizen) married a British Citizen 11 years ago. I’d love to move there to retire and live near the grand kids. I look forward to reading any information to see if this is possible in the future.
        Thanks for your articles and research!

      • Tessa
        January 26, 2022 at 11:03 AM

        Hi Ellen – thanks for letting me know this has been helpful! I hope you get a chance to live closer to family too, it was one of my main motivators. I’m going to try and do some more research into how family ties can work towards residency.
        all the best, Tessa

  • Sue-Anne
    September 18, 2021 at 11:46 AM

    What a shame some of those previous schemes have now finished. Nonetheless, I like your idea of living here for 6 months first off to see if it’s really of long-term interest. I think my ideal retirement would be several months at a time in a variety of different places!


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