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June 11, 2018

Moving to the U.K.: A beginner's guide

  • Corporate relocation
  • International Moves
  • Long Distance Moves
Considering a move to the U.K.? This guide is here to help.

Moving to the United Kingdom is a possibility for many Americans, and for a variety of reasons. The similarities in language, climate and culture make it an interesting choice for those who want to relocate for pleasure. Meanwhile, its strong economy and many connections with the rest of Europe mean there are plenty of opportunities for employees to be relocated on a fixed-term or ongoing basis.

Let's look at the basics of moving to the U.K. as you begin exploring a potential journey.

Union Jack flag flying on flagpole is what you'll see after a potential move to the UK.Moving to the U.K.? Use this guide to get started.

Moving to the U.K.

Culture and language

While English is a language of business across the world, and you may be surprised by native proficiency in a number of countries, the U.K. is (unsurprisingly) full of native speakers. That helps bridge a major gap in terms of getting used to living in a new country: from navigating your way to work to asking for help in a store and meeting your neighbors. There are also plenty of shared cultural experiences that stem from the United States's origin as an English colony.

It's important to remember that not everything will be the same, however. Business Insider compiled a list of cultural differences found in the U.K., from the presence of separate hot and cold taps on the vast majority of sinks to the long hours of many corner shops and the reach - and complexity - of the country's many public transit options. You'll also likely run into differences in language, both in the spelling of a variety of words and the use of a number of terms we're unfamiliar with in the U.S. (calling the hood of a car a "bonnet" is a prime example).

If you're moving due to a need for your skills at one of your employer's foreign offices, you'll have their assistance when it comes time to apply for a visa, look for housing and address the many other needs related to such a move. If you're moving because of a personal choice, you'll have to start getting your paperwork and information in order. You'll need a valid U.S. passport to start the process and put you in a position to apply for work and residency visas from the U.K. government.

Documentation and planning

You can visit the country for as long as six months without any special documents beyond a passport, USA Today pointed out, although you'll need a visa if you want to work for any length of time. If you want to stay longer than six months, you also need to demonstrate a level of personal financial security and show you have or can secure a place to live while in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Moving and packing

Moving to the U.K. isn't as easy as packing up and relocating to a house a few towns over from where you currently live, but it can still be a straightforward, organized and positive experience. The global reach of Atlas means our expert movers can confidently carry your belongings from wherever you may live in the U.S. to your destination in the U.K.

Considering the expense of an international move, perhaps the most important tip is to downsize before you depart. Remember that the U.K. uses different electrical standards than the U.S., so leaving behind most appliances is a prudent idea. You can also get rid of clutter, old clothes and other items you haven't used in a long time. You should also take extreme care to pack any fragile items or, to have the best chance at keeping those belongings safe, work with the expert packers at Atlas.