How to Move to the UK from America

If you have ever visited Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, or England, you likely developed a love for Europe. Many Americans who visit these locations choose to move to Europe. In 2018, Non-EU citizens, including US citizens, accounted for approximately 62 percent of long-term immigration to Great Britain.Yet, deciding to move to a new country is different from simply visiting and can be quite a hassle. It can be an incredibly challenging endeavor, especially if you are unaware of the various UK visa options, requirements, and international moving options.

However, despite these many moving challenges and the changes to visa applications, and the Brexit situation, more Americans are considering moving to the UK from the US.

Here are some other articles that might help you plan your move:

  • Best USA to UK movers: The international moving industry is full of scammy movers, and when all of your belongings are at stake, don’t take chances. These are the top international movers.
  • Ship your car overseas: Taking your car with you? Use a company that prioritizes professionalism, cares for your vehicle and is experienced.
  • International Moving Costs: Moving internationally comes with its own set of expenses. Learn more about the specific costs associated with an international move.

What are the best international movers?

Company Price Vendor Type Quoting options Storage Minimum Move Size
JK Moving Services $$ Carrier Phone/virtual estimate Yes 1 bedroom
North American Van Lines $$$ Carrier Phone/virtual estimate Yes 1 bedroom
Allied $$$ Carrier Phone/virtual estimate Yes 1 bedroom

How To Move From The US To The UK

Moving from the USA to the UK can at first appear like a daunting task. Unlike in other countries, Americans can find it challenging to move to the United Kingdom because of the fairly strict visa requirements. Yet, you shouldn’t despair quite yet as there are several visa options available to US citizens.

Below, we will have a much closer look into the type of visa you could apply for when moving to the UK and the general process of moving to this country.

UK Visa Information

Interestingly, several long-term and short-term visa options are available to Americans who want to live in the United Kingdom for an extended period. Unlike the US, the UK doesn’t operate a visa waiver program. This means that any US citizen that enters Great Britain who doesn’t have the right of abode in this country will require a visa to stay within the country.

Since 2016, the UK has become incredibly strict regarding immigration since the passing of Brexit and is notoriously difficult to move to. Yet, it’s not impossible as long as you follow the visa regulations and requirements set forth by the UK government.

That’s why we have explained a few of the visa options you should know if you are planning to move to London or any of the other major cities in England or the UK. You can eventually obtain a UK resident visa if you want to live in this country indefinitely or become a UK citizen with these visa options.

A Spouse Visa

If you want to live in the UK full time, you can apply for a spouse visa if you are married to a person who is a British citizen. If you move to England on this type of visa, you can work and study in the country.

Usually, a spouse visa lasts 33 months and can be extended once for an additional 30 months. After spending five years on this type of visa, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain, otherwise known as permanent residency.

However, you must meet several requirements to move to the UK on a spouse visa.

  • You need to have suitable accommodations for you and your spouse and any dependents that you have.
  • You and your spouse need to be older than 18.
  • You and your spouse have to intend to live together permanently.
  • You and your spouse need to have met each other and be legally married.
  • Your sponsoring spouse has to earn above 18,600 pounds annually if you have no dependents.

An Unmarried Partner Visa

In the UK, the unmarried partner visa is also known as the UK defacto visa. This visa lets unmarried partners live in the UK if they are in a relationship with a UK resident with no immigration restrictions.

Interestingly, the unmarried partner visa can be applied for by both heterosexual and same-sex couples as long as you can prove that the relationship has lasted longer than two years. The first unmarried partner visa will be issued for 33 months and can be extended an additional 30 months. After that, if five years have passed, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain in England while still living with the same partner.

Below we have provided a few of the requirements you would need to meet if you want to move to the UK via an unmarried partner visa from the US.

  • You need to prove that any previous relationship you were involved in has ended even if you had not married your previous partner.
  • You need to complete the English language requirements to a satisfactory level.
  • You will need to prove that you and your current partner, who is a UK resident, have been living together for two or more years while in a relationship.
  • Your sponsoring partner needs to earn a minimum of 18.600 each year.
  • You and your partner need to intend to live together permanently, and both be 18 or older.

A Work Visa

Should you want to live and work in the UK, you can apply for a work visa or, as it is otherwise known, a work permit. There are three different categories of work permits that you can apply for. These permits are a skilled worker visa, a sportsperson visa, and an intracompany transfer visa.

Each of these visas has its own set of requirements, but below, we have mentioned the process of how you would get a work permit to live and work in the UK. It’s important to note that you will be able to live in England for up to five years with a work visa. However, after five years, you can apply for indefinite leave to remain, but you will only be eligible for British Nationality after a year of being settled.

  • You will need to have a certificate of sponsorship given to you by the employer who is sponsoring you in your possession.
  • You will need to have a confirmed job offer of employment from a licensed UK employer.
  • You will need to pass the UK points-based assessment.
  • In applying for a skilled worker visa, you will need a job offer that is on the list of eligible occupations.

A UK Ancestry Visa

When applying for visas to live in the UK, you can apply for an ancestry visa if one of your grandparents on your mother or father’s side was born in the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, or the UK. Should you have a grandparent born in the Republic of Ireland before March 31st, 1922, you are also likely eligible for a UK ancestry visa.

This type of visa allows you to stay in the country for five years, and thereafter, you can request indefinite leave to remain as long as you meet regulations. Below are some of the requirements you will need to meet should you plan on relocating to the United Kingdom on this type of visa.

  • You have to be a citizen of a recognized commonwealth country.
  • You need to be at least 17 years old.
  • You have to be able to support yourself without claiming public funds.
  • You need to intend to and be able to work in the United Kingdom.

A Student Visa

Unlike the other visa options, you cannot apply for indefinite leave to remain with a student visa even if you have been staying in the UK for five years. Yet this is an excellent visa option for those wishing to live long term in England for the duration of their studies.

Should you intend to stay in the UK for longer than six months for study purposes, you will need to apply for a student visa. You will also need to apply for this type of visa if you intend to work or take an internship while studying in this country.

American citizens need to apply for a student visa while they are not present in the Isle of Man, the UK, or the Channel Islands. Below are some of the requirements you need to meet if you apply for a UK student visa.

  • You should be 16 or older and be able to speak, read and write and understand English.
  • You need to have been offered a place to study on a course provided by a licensed student sponsor.
  • Should you be younger than 17, you must prove that your parents have consented to study in the UK.
  • You need to demonstrate that you have the appropriate funds to support yourself and pay for your course.

How To Move Your Things From The US To The UK

Are you wondering how you can move your things from the US to the UK? This is a fairly common concern as many people don’t want to leave their belongings when moving overseas. Fortunately, there are a few transportation options available to those making an international move.

However, you need to ensure that you utilize a recognized and reputable company with experience in moving household goods from America to England. You must also provide the international moving company with the origin and destination details and the volume of the goods you need to transport. It would also be good to provide them with your estimated budget and how quickly you need to transport your possessions from the US to the UK.

Air Freight

If you need your goods to be quickly moved from the US to the UK, you can use an air international freight moving service. However, air freight is incredibly costly and is usually suitable for those who only plan to move the volume of possessions that could fit in a one-bedroom apartment. Additionally, air freight is a popular option amongst those who need to move antiques and priceless art collections.

In general, air freight transit times from the US to the UK can take between 5 to 10 days.

International Air Freight Companies

  • International Sea & Air Shipping.
  • Viking International Moving.
  • FedEx Logistics.

Sea Freight

Should you have a more conservative budget, you will likely want to choose sea freight as your international moving transportation service. However, sea freight transit times are much longer than air freight.

You can expect your belongings to take approximately 8 to 14 weeks to reach you in the UK when you ship them in a container from the US. There are two container options available with sea freight.

Shared Container

Most Americans moving to the United Kingdom choose to use a shared container service. This is because sharing a container is much more cost-effective as you only need to pay for the space your goods occupy.

However, this option doesn’t suit everyone as you will have limited space on what you can ship and will likely have to leave some of your belongings behind. This option is good for those only needing to move a few furniture items, a small office or a small one-bedroom apartment or flat.

Exclusive Container

Unlike a shared container, an exclusive container allows you to ship much more. This is because you will have the entire container load to use, which is ideal when moving large households.

Depending on how many possessions you wish to move, you will have to book a 20ft or 40 ft shipping container. However, an exclusive container is more expensive, so you need to make sure you need this much space for your household or office move.

International Sea Freight Companies

  • Mr. Mover of Ohio.
  • United Parcel Service.
  • DHL.

Why Are People Moving From The US To The UK?

According to statistics, approximately 26 percent of American expats choose to move to a European country. Yet, why are more and more Americans deciding to become brits in the UK? In general, many US citizens choose to relocate to the United Kingdom for better work opportunities and family ties.

Most Americans who decide to immigrate to the UK do so because they met their spouse while visiting the country. Additionally, Americans working full time in England are covered by strong labor laws and receive generous employee benefits.

There are many other reasons why the UK is a popular destination for Americans to move to, and we have spoken of them below.


Many Americans choose to move to the UK because the taxes are better. Although personal income tax in the United Kingdom is higher than in the United States, the country does not have direct property taxes. In comparison, the US levies property taxes at the local and state level. Additionally, the United Kingdom does not have social security taxes.


The healthcare system is fraught with problems in America, with many unhappy with their health insurance providers. That’s why the National Health Service, or NHS as it is known, is a huge drawing card for US citizens to move to the UK. The NHS is well known for its high standard of care.

American expats living in the UK will have access to the NHS at little to no cost. Additionally, medication is also usually subsidized, making it much more affordable than in America.

The Lifestyle

If you are an American who enjoys arts, culture, and sporting events, the UK might be the best choice for you. This prosperous country is known for its rich cultural history and leading arts and sporting events.

Many of the world’s major sporting events occur in major cities like Edinburgh, Manchester, and London. It’s also incredibly easy to catch public transport with minimum hassle to view an art show or music festival.

Geographic Location

Frequent travelers will enjoy living in the United Kingdom. The UK is a geographic hub because of its proximity to many popular countries and its access to 24 different international commercial airports. In addition to accessible international flights, you can also look forward to Eurostar train trips and ferry ports that will take you where you want to go at affordable rates.


Americans with families often consider becoming expats in the UK because of the country’s incredible education system. There are many renowned universities in Britain, such as the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and the University of Edinburgh. In addition to this, any American who has become a resident of the United Kingdom has the right to send their child to a public school for free.

Cost Of Living

It is no secret that living in America can be expensive. This is why many US citizens are choosing to move to the UK. On average, the cost of living in the UK is approximately 0.49 percent lower. Although this figure seems to be not much of an improvement, it is.

For example, rental costs in the UK are 22.55 percent lower than in the US. Additionally, the cost of food is also much cheaper in big cities in the UK when compared to cities in the US.

Some Of The Very Best Cities To Move To In The UK

When you decide to move to the UK, you must identify the best cities you should move to. Some cities are better to move to if you have children in university while others are better for work opportunities. Additionally, if you are planning to retire in the UK, some cities will find to be more suitable than others.

That’s why it’s best to do your research when debating between popular UK cities. Below you will see a few of the best cities in the UK that Americans should consider moving to:

  • Edinburgh.
  • Glasgow.
  • London.
  • Birmingham.
  • Southampton.
  • Manchester.
  • Liverpool.


Below are some of the common frequently asked questions related to moving from the US to the UK.

Can A US Citizen Live In The UK?

A US citizen can live in the UK provided they have the proper visa to stay in the UK. They will only be allowed to remain in the UK for the specific period stipulated by their visa.

Is It Hard For An American Citizen To Move To The UK?

In recent years it has become harder for Americans to move to the United Kingdom. Most Americans need to obtain a specific type of visa that demonstrates their reasons for moving to the UK.

To obtain a relevant visa and move to the UK, they will have to meet the specific visa requirements stipulated by the UK government. Once a visa has been obtained, the rest of the moving process is relatively easy.

How Much Money Do You Really Need To Immigrate To The UK?

How much money you will need to immigrate to the UK will vary greatly depending on your expenses and how many belongings you take. Additionally, the origin and destination of your move will also affect how much you need. For example, moving from Los Angeles to the United Kingdom will have a different price when compared to a move from New York to the United Kingdom.

It can cost upwards of $1,400 to ship a 40 ft container containing household goods from the US to the UK during peak season. In addition, to this moving transportation cost, you will also need to consider that you will likely need money for your first few months of living expenses, depending on your visa. On average, you can expect to budget at least $42,000 depending on the exchange rates when immigrating.

What Are The Requirements To Move To The UK?

In most instances, the specific requirements that you will need to meet as a US citizen to move to the UK will depend on the visa you are applying for.

Is It Easy To Get A Visa To Live In The UK?

The process surrounding obtaining a visa is not too difficult. Yet, just because it is a fairly simple procedure does not mean you will automatically be granted the visa you apply for. When applying for a UK visa, you will need to do the following:

  • Fill out an application form in English.
  • Pay the specific health surcharge and visa fee if necessary.
  • Book an appointment at a reputable visa application center and attend the appointment.
  • Get your biometrics taken.
  • Provide proof of your salary in some instances.
  • Prove that you don’t have a criminal record.
  • Have a valid passport.

How Do I Become A UK Citizen?

If you are a US citizen and want to become a UK citizen, you must meet a few basic requirements to apply for British citizenship.

  • You need to have no criminal record.
  • You have to be 18 years or older.
  • You need to be residing in the UK currently.
  • You will have to pass the “Life in the UK” test.
  • You will have to meet English language requirements.
  • You can’t have traveled outside the UK for more than 90 days in the year you wish to apply for citizenship.
  • You have to have been granted indefinite leave to stay in the United Kingdom.
  • You will have to have, in most instances, lived in the Uk for five years.

How long does it really take to move from the US to the UK?

How long it takes to move from the US to the UK will depend on several different factors. Factors such as when you began your visa application and which method of transportation you are choosing to move your belongings. It will also depend on if you’re moving via a work sponsorship or through family ties.

A visa application can take two to three months before you receive approval. If you don’t plan on taking any belongings with you, you can move as soon as you receive your visa.

If you are moving your belongings with you, you can still move immediately once you have your visa. However, it could take months for you to settle as sea freight transportation can take weeks to months before receiving your household goods.

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