Moving to the United Kingdom?

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Moving to the United Kingdom?



British Citizens


Non-British Dependants


Habitual Residency Test










State Benefits and Assistance



Citizen Advice Bureau

UK Airport Travel Care Organisations

  1. British Citizens

Anyone with a valid British citizen passport is free to enter and remain in the UK as long as they wish. If you have been absent from the UK for some time there may have been major changes in society and culture that you are not prepared for. You might want to consider spending some time in the UK before committing to moving.

2. Non-British Dependants Visas
If you are British, have entitlement to Right of Abode or you qualify for a UK ancestry visa (via British parent or grandparent), and have a non-British spouse, partner, or children under the age of 18, who wish to accompany you to the UK, they may qualify for entry as dependants via settlement visa (currently dependent on minimum income or savings). Information on this is available on the website (below). Children over the age of 18 need to qualify for entry in their own right, except in exceptional circumstances. Visas are submitted through the Harare UK Visa Application Centre (below). British Nationals living in the EAA may be able to bring dependents into the UK with a family permit. (a-z information) (check what kind of visa you need) (for those with UK-born parents) (contact UK Visa) (For moving to UK from EAA)
UK Visa Application Centre
7 Natal Road, Belgravia, Harare +263 4 738338 or +263 772 252268 (Teleperformance are our local UK Visa Partners)

3. State Benefits and the Habitual Residency Test (HRT)
British citizens are entitled to live and work in the UK. However non-emergency secondary health care and social security benefits are only available to those ‘ordinarily resident’ in the UK. To be eligible for these on returning from abroad, a British citizen must pass the Habitual Residency Test and/or to have made the appropriate National Insurance contributions. The HRT is to ensure a person is an actual permanent resident, not just intending to reside in the UK.
The HRT looks at what ties you already have in the UK and what you are doing to make the UK the centre of your life (e.g registering with your local doctor and dentist, renting a property). It also looks at how much you have cut ties with the country where you were living in, e.g selling a property abroad or given up a tenancy.
If a British citizen wishes to move to the UK for the first time, they should make prior arrangements for accommodation before arrival and bring sufficient funds to support themselves until they have found employment, or passed the conditions to satisfy the HRT, which may take up to three or even six months in areas where there is high demand for services.
On your return to the UK, it is important to register with a local GP medical centre as soon as possible, as they are the gateway to NHS services. If you are staying temporarily with family or friends while looking for permanent accommodation, it is possible to register as a temporary patient. If you take regular prescription medication, it is important to bring sufficient supplies to meet your needs until you are registered.
Further information can be found from: (excellent website)

4. Housing

The most readily available housing in the UK is found in the private sector where housing can be bought, leased or rented. Private sector housing can be sought through Estate Agents in the area in which you wish to live.

Local authorities in the UK have a duty to ensure that housing advice is available free of charge to everyone in their area and some will also be able to provide details of accredited private landlords in their area.

Public sector housing (social housing) is in high demand across the UK and it is mainly provided by local housing authorities and housing associations. Applications for social housing should be directed to the housing authority in the area where you wish to live, although some housing associations will accept direct applications. The contact details for local housing authorities can be found via links on the government website A directory of housing associations can be found at .

Returning British citizens should be aware that in some areas, particularly in London and the South East of England, waiting lists for social housing are long, and priority for lettings goes to those who are considered in greatest housing need. Housing applicants must be ordinarily resident (i.e passed HRT) in the UK in order to be eligible for housing with a local authority. Therefore British citizens settling from overseas are unlikely to be eligible to apply until they have established a home in the UK for several months.
Independent agencies such as Citizens Advice ( and Shelter ( are able to provide housing information and advice.
Housing resources for older people include: First Stop Advice is an independent, impartial and free service provided by the national charity Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC) in partnership with local and national partner organisations. The service is for older people, their families and carers. It aims to help them get the help or care they need to live as independently and comfortably as possible. Age UK's vision is for a world where everyone can ‘love later life’. As well was advice on housing, they provide services and support on a wide variety of issues including pensions, benefits, independence, health, travel and work for the over 60’s.

5. Employment

Those who intend to work in the UK should make arrangements to secure employment before leaving for the UK. Those who cannot do so should visit a Jobcentre Plus office in their local area or a private employment agency as soon as possible after their arrival in the UK or consider responding to advertisements in the media for jobs appropriate to their qualifications. The address and telephone number of local Jobcentre Plus offices can be found in local telephone directories or via the Department for Work and Pensions website at:

6. Health

Registering with a GP

Under current rules anyone can register with a GP practice in England and receive free primary care, and must do so, before they can qualify for any free medical treatment, other than emergency treatment. A GP practice can only refuse an application to join its list of NHS patients on reasonable grounds: e.g, if their lists are closed to new patients or the applicant lives in a different practice's boundary area. A list of local GPs and further information can be obtained via the NHS website at

Hospital Treatment

If you move to the UK permanently, you're entitled to free NHS hospital treatment. Like all UK residents, you'll have to pay some NHS charges (for example, for prescriptions), unless you are exempt from these. Different rules apply if you're visiting temporarily. If there's a waiting list for the treatment you need, you'll have to join the waiting list. The hospital may ask you for evidence that you live in the UK permanently, e.g that you have bought or rented a property in the UK.

Emergency treatment

Regardless of your residential status or nationality, you're entitled to free emergency NHS treatment from an A&E department, an NHS walk-in centre, for treatment of specified infectious diseases or conditions caused by torture or violence.
A further guide to entitlement to NHS treatment for those returning the UK can be found at:


British citizens are entitled to register with a local NHS Dentist. Dental treatment is only given free to a limited range of people, such as children under 18, pregnant mothers and those in receipt of certain state benefits. For people who work, standard NHS charges are applicable. For a list of local NHS Dentists and for further information visit the NHS website at .

7. Education

State education is free in the UK for British citizens between the ages of 5 and 16/18. To qualify for ‘home’ tuition fees for a higher education course, a British citizen must have been ordinarily resident in the UK for at least three years before the course starts. For further information, and a list of local State Schools, contact your Local Education Authority (the telephone number can be found in the local telephone directory) or visit the Department of Education and Skills website at:
For information on Independent schools visit:

8. State Benefits and Assistance

The most current information about benefits for those people returning to live in the UK from abroad can be found on the Department of Work and Pensions website at:

9. Citizen Advice Bureau

Citizen Advice Bureau’s can be found throughout the UK. They give free, confidential, impartial and independent advice on a wide range of subjects, including state benefits, housing, legal matters and employment. The address and telephone number of your local Citizens Advice Bureau will be in the local telephone directory. Alternatively details can be obtained from the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureau, at Myddelton House, 115-123 Pentonville Road, London N1 9LZ (020 7833 2181), website:

10. UK Airport Travel Care Organisations
The following organisations can provide assistance to returning British Nationals either through a referral made via the FCO or by self referral. For more detail on each agencies role please visited their websites. Please note that due to the voluntary status of these organisations no financial or accommodation support can be provided.

11. Other useful websites

Disclaimer: The British Embassy is not responsible for content published on other web sites. A site's appearance in this document should not be considered an official endorsement of that site or of its content. All information contained in this document may change and should be checked to ensure it is up to date.

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