United Kingdom

From RetireWiki.jp
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This page contains information about the UK relevant for residents of Japan. Organising voluntary contributions to the UK State Pension is possibly the most important financial matter that eligible residents of Japan should consider; more information is provided in the section below.

UK State Pension

The new State Pension can be claimed by individuals with sufficient qualifying years on their National Insurance record irrespective of nationality and residency. (Men born before 6th April 1951 and women born before 6th April 1953 will instead receive the older basic State Pension.) Ordinarily, at least 10 qualifying years are required to receive benefits[1]. They do not have to be 10 qualifying years in a row. In principle, 35 qualifying years are required to receive the full state pension (£185.15 per week or £9,627.80 per 52 weeks in 2022-2023)[2]. Those with fewer qualifying years will receive a pro rated amount.

Individual circumstances for people with national insurance records starting before 2016 mean that some people may need 'extra' qualifying years to receive the full pension (particularly people 'contracted out'), and some people may receive more than the stated 'full state pension' (those with a 'protected payment'); see the gov.uk guide for further details.

Qualifying years are tax years[3] when sufficient contributions and/or credits have been made, via any combination of the below:

  1. national insurance contributions made via employment or self employment (earnings or profit need to be above a threshold, so part-time employment may not satisfy this condition)
  2. national insurance credits, eg when claiming benefits, acting as a carer, undertaking jury service, etc. Some individuals will have received starting credits automatically for the years in which they turned 16, 17 and 18.
  3. voluntary national insurance contributions

You can check your national insurance record online (requires Government Gateway access), by phone or by post (details for all methods in the link).

Your state pension age can be confirmed online. It is subject to future change. People born on or after 6th April 1978 currently have a state pension age of 68; people born earlier may have lower state pension ages, and there may also be differences according to gender.

The state pension needs to be claimed, and can be paid either to a UK bank or building society in GBP or to a bank in the country in which you reside in the local currency. Claimants can decide whether to receive payments every 4 weeks or every 13 weeks. (Claimants whose pension is less than £5 per week will be paid once a year in December.)

The state pension can be deferred, and the benefit amount will increase every week you defer, as long as you defer for at least 9 weeks. The state pension increases by the equivalent of 1% for every 9 weeks you defer. This works out as just under 5.8% for every 52 weeks. The extra amount is paid with your regular state pension payment. No action needs to be taken to defer the pension; until you claim it, it will be deferred.

State pension recipients resident in the UK and in a selection of other countries will have their pension uprated annually ('unfrozen'). Those resident in countries not on the aforementioned list will not have their pension uprated annually ('frozen'). Japan falls into the 'frozen' category. Thus, a person resident in Japan reaching state pension age in 2022-2023 would have their pension ‘frozen’ at the 2022-2023 payment level. The individual still has the option to defer the pension to increase the benefit amount as detailed above. The effect of deferring would be a simple 1% increase in benefit for every 9 weeks of deferral. Should the pension actually be claimed in 2023-2024, the new rate for 2023-2024 would not apply to this individual[4]. If an individual with a 'frozen' pension moves to the UK or another eligible country, the pension will be uprated ('unfrozen'). Recipients of 'frozen' pensions remaining in Japan or other 'frozen' countries may have their pension temporarily uprated ('thawed') during visits to the UK and other eligible countries.

Information concerning taxation for UK state pension recipients resident in Japan can be found on this wiki. The Japan-UK Double Taxation Convention is a complex document, but the basic principle is that primary taxation rights are assigned to the country of main residence, which in the case of Japan-resident individuals is likely to be Japan. Thus, recipients of the UK state pension resident in Japan are likely to only be subject to Japanese taxes on the pension benefits.

There is an Agreement between the UK and Japan on Social Security. It is not a totalisation agreement, meaning qualifying years for the UK state pension cannot be transferred to the Japan state pension, or vice versa. The agreement prevents compulsory dual coverage, meaning that people should only have a requirement to make mandatory contributions to one system at any one time. People making mandatory contributions to the Japanese pension system are usually able to make voluntary NICs to the UK system, if eligible. HMRC has published a summary of the agreement in plain English with some FAQs at the end.

Applying to make voluntary National Insurance Contributions from abroad

People with National Insurance records can apply to make voluntary National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from abroad (information and application form available via this link) in order to accumulate qualifying years towards the UK state pension, provided they meet eligibility criteria. The form can only be submitted by post, and HMRC will often take several months to respond by mail. Those accepted are often eligible to back-pay recent years which did not meet the threshold to be qualifying years. Ordinarily, back payments are limited to six years. However, until 5th April 2023 it is possible to pay voluntary contributions to make up for gaps between April 2006 and April 2016 if you’re eligible[5]. This unique opportunity to back-pay up to 16 years has arisen because of transitional arrangements surrounding the introduction of the new State Pension in 2016.

There are two classes of voluntary contributions with differing eligibility criteria: Class 2 and Class 3. The weekly rates for 2022-2023 are £3.15 for Class 2 and £15.85 for Class 3. (52-week rates are £163.80 for Class 2 and £824.20 for Class 3.)

The rules regarding eligibility are complex and subject to change, so potential applicants are encouraged to check the latest information carefully on gov.uk. However, a summary of the eligibility criteria for Class 2 is:

  1. You’re employed or self-employed outside the UK, and
  2. You’ve lived in the UK for a continuous 3-year period at any time before the period for which NICs are to be paid[1], or before going abroad, you paid a set amount in NICs for 3 years or more (this will be checked when you ask to pay Class 2 NICs[1]), and
  3. Immediately before going abroad, you were ordinarily an employed or self-employed earner in the UK.

A summary of the eligibility criteria for Class 3 is:

  1. You’ve lived in the UK for a continuous 3-year period at any time before the period for which NICs are to be paid[1], or
  2. Before going abroad, you paid a set amount in NICs for 3 years or more, or
  3. You've paid Class 1 contributions for the first 52 weeks of your employment abroad

The application requires a National Insurance Number (NINO), complete employment and address history since leaving the UK, and some detail of time in the UK as well. An HMRC Subject Access Request (SAR) could be useful to establish details of the last UK employment and national insurance contributions.

Applicants select their preferred payment method at application stage: monthly direct debit, six-monthly direct debit (Class 2 only), manual payment (annually; via bank transfer or sterling cheque), or via an agent in the UK (who would himself/herself have the option to pay via direct debit or manually). Those opting to pay manually will ordinarily receive a bill around the end of each tax year.

Before sending any money for the voluntary NICs, you may be asked to confirm with the Pension Service (part of DWP) that these voluntary contributions will increase your State Pension. This can be done by phone (+44 191 2183600), and the Pension Centre will then send you a State Pension Forecast. When this forecast confirms that You can improve your forecast with voluntary contributions, this has to be communicated with HMRC. With this note on your record, your payment should then be properly allocated to your state pension record.

Form CF83: notes

Form CF83 (Application to pay National Insurance contributions abroad) is published by gov.uk in conjunction with NI38 Social Security Abroad.

There are some confusion points as:

  • the form is written in different tenses. At points, it reads as if the applicant has not yet moved abroad (Q7. Name of the country you’re going to) whereas elsewhere it reads as if the applicant has already moved (Q13. Before leaving the UK, were you...)
  • there are some internal inconsistencies in the pamphlet and form (eg the form directs the reader to 'the notes on page 31', but the Nov 2022 version of NI38 does not carry page numbers, and the previous version had 'Special notes and advice for completion of application form CF83' beginning on page 32)

Below are some notes regarding the form, in addition to the notes provided in NI38:

  • Q6 (National Insurance Number): the notes give instructions should you not know your NINO, but there are methods to retrieve a lost NINO and applicants may wish to consider pursuing these methods first so as to provide as complete information as possible upon application
  • Q11 (How long do you intend to stay abroad?): the purpose of this question appears to be to sift out applicants on short-term (less than one-year) secondment abroad who would be liable for Class 1 NICs in the UK. Long-term residents abroad may wonder how best to answer this question. 'Indefinitely' is a valid answer, as is 'x+' years (where x = years already spent abroad).
  • Q12 (Are you ordinarily resident in the UK?): there are extensive notes on this in NI38. As stated in these notes, your answer should be based on your status at the time you left the UK. (Thus, the wording of the question is very questionable!) As with Q11, it is probable that Q12 is used to determine if an applicant is liable for Class 1 contributions, which won't be the case for those who are based abroad long-term.
  • Direct Debit instruction: this precedes the question about payment choice; you do of course have the option to leave this blank and select an alternative payment method
  • Q14 (What date did you last pay national insurance contributions?): just to note that if you don't know this, one possibility would be to retrieve the information via an HMRC Subject Access Request (SAR)
  • Q25 (Do you want to know about any shortfall of National Insurance contributions that you can pay?): Answering yes here does of course not bind you into paying these, but should give you the fullest possible information as to your options, so is highly recommended.

In many cases, applicants may have to supply additional information in a covering letter, eg if they have had more than one job or address since leaving the UK.

Neither Form CF83, Pamphlet NI38 nor indeed the underlying legislation (Regulation 147 of The Social Security (Contributions) Regulations 2001) provides further definition to the Class 2 criterion of 'immediately before going abroad, you were ordinarily an employed or self-employed earner in the UK'. Applicants for whom this is not clear cut may wish to present their case on this point in their covering letter. HMRC's thinking may be akin to the 'ordinarily resident' guidance. A long work history in the UK with a short gap to prepare for an international move might reasonably satisfy the criterion (although not actually employed immediately prior to leaving the UK, you ordinarily were). Even a more extended earning gap such as a university course might satisfy the criterion (the course is time-limited, and if your prior history supports your case, you might be considered to be ordinarily employed or self-employed despite being on a study break).

Making payments

As described above, there are various payment methods (monthly or six-monthly direct debit; annual sterling cheque; annual bank transfer; agent). Further details for each method can be found within NI38, and on HMRC correspondence.

However, bank transfer details are provided below, as they are a bit hidden for overseas residents on the gov.uk site:

HMRC provides payment instructions for Class 2 and Class 3. Note that the default details are for UK residents. The details from the Overseas payments section, which are the same for both classes, are included below.

HMRC NI Overseas Payments Bank Details
Sort Code 20 20 48
Account Number 30944793
Account Name HMRC NIC receipts
Bank identifier code (BIC) BARCGB22
IBAN GB49BARC20204830944793
Reference Use your National Insurance number followed by IC, your surname then your initial.

If your name is Anne Jones, you’d write the reference as QQ123456AICJONESA

After making a payment, it may be beneficial to communicate with HMRC confirming the payment amount and the tax year(s) it covers to ensure it is properly allocated on your record.

Making back payments

The application form is worded so that it is effectively an application to make ongoing voluntary national insurance contributions (see Q22-23), but there is a box to tick to find out about any shortfalls (Q25). These shortfalls can be back paid.

Ordinarily, back payments are limited to the past 6 years. However, until 5th April 2023 it is possible to pay voluntary contributions to make up for gaps between April 2006 and April 2016 if you’re eligible[5].

Payments will be due at the current rate, except if you are paying Class 2 contributions for the previous tax year or Class 3 contributions for the previous 2 tax years, when payment will be due at the original rates for those tax years[6].

These payments are entirely voluntary and there is no requirement to pay the maximum amount allowed; you can pay for years of your choosing on a timetable of your choosing (within the rules, and obeying any instructions in the correspondence from HMRC). It could be that different years cost different amounts for the following reasons:

  • payments for most years will be at the current rates, but payments for the previous 2 tax years may be at the original rates (see above)
  • you could have partially complete years, eg years in which you made some contributions but insufficient to meet the threshold of a qualifying year
  • you could have years split between Class 2 and Class 3 rates, eg if you fulfil the criteria for Class 2 but have had gaps between employment abroad, the gaps will be ineligible for Class 2 contributions and so Class 3 rates should be due for those time periods

As with any manual payments, it is highly recommended to contact HMRC to confirm the payment amount and the tax year(s) it represents to enable the contributions to be properly allocated to your national insurance record.

Reporting requirements

HMRC should be informed of any relevant change of circumstances, including:

  • change of address
  • change of name
  • change of employment status

Please note that entitlement to pay Class 2 contributions is only possible if the person is gainfully employed (or self-employed) outside the UK throughout the week each payment relates to[7]. Thus, any gaps between jobs would be likely to create periods of ineligibility for Class 2 contributions.

Summary of pension-related actions

Online access for some aspects of the state pension proves difficult for some people resident overseas. Mail and phone may prove useful. In late 2022, some Japan residents reported that the ID requirements for online access (Government Gateway account, etc) had changed favourably, eliminating some situations where some people were locked out.

The below table summarises the main actions surrounding the state pension and provides links, phone numbers and mailing addresses where known.

Action Online Phone Post
Access national insurance record link + 44 191 203 7010 National Insurance Contributions and Employers Office

HM Revenue and Customs BX9 1AN

Determine state pension age link
Retrieve lost NINO link Complete Form CA5403 (fill in online then print and post) or Form CA5403 (fully paper version; PDF) together with evidence of identity and send to:

National Insurance Contributions and Employers Office HM Revenue and Customs BX9 1AN

Retrieve records of employment in the UK link + 44 191 203 7010 SARS/DPU

HM Revenue and Customs National Insurance Contributions Office BX9 1AN

Receive a state pension forecast link +44 191 2183600 Complete Form BR19 and send to:

Newcastle Pension Centre Futures Group The Pension Service 9 Mail Handling Site A Wolverhampton WV98 1LU

Apply to make voluntary NICs from abroad X X Complete Form CF38 and send to:

PT Operations North East England HM Revenue and Customs BX9 1AN

Pay voluntary NICs from abroad X Follow the instructions for Class 2 or Class 3 voluntary payments by post and send a sterling cheque to the following address (making sure to include all information in the instructions):

HM Revenue and Customs National Insurance Contributions and Employer Office

BX9 1AN

Claim the state pension whilst living abroad The International Pension Centre: +44 (0) 191 218 7777 Complete International State Pension claim form IPC BR1 and send to:

International Pension Centre The Pension Service 11 Mail Handling Site A Wolverhampton WV98 1LW

Report a change in circumstances The International Pension Centre: +44 (0) 191 218 7777 International Pension Centre

The Pension Service 11 Mail Handling Site A Wolverhampton WV98 1LW

Apply to have the state pension temporarily uprated during a visit to the UK or other eligible countries (all 'unfrozen' countries except USA and Bermuda) and/or apply for a Christmas Bonus International Pension Centre

The Pension Service 11 Mail Handling Site A Wolverhampton WV98 1LW

Complete a 'life certificate' X X Follow instructions on the certificate.
Report the death of a state pension recipient overseas The International Pension Centre: +44 (0) 191 218 7777 International Pension Centre

The Pension Service 11 Mail Handling Site A Wolverhampton WV98 1LW

Comparison between UK and Japan state pensions

See here for a comparison between UK and Japan state pensions.

Pension Resources

Notes

Personal pensions

Former UK residents may have accumulated personal pensions during their time in the UK, including workplace pension schemes. These can be managed whilst in Japan, but it may not be possible to make new contributions as most providers only accept contributions eligible for tax relief, and most non-residents are not eligible for tax relief. (Some non-UK residents will be classified as relevant UK individuals who are eligible for tax relief, eg those who were based in the UK in the last five years, but some providers may still have additional stipulations, such as contributions from non-UK residents are only accepted if these were set up when UK-resident, even if the individual is a relevant UK individual.)

It is possible to consolidate and transfer existing personal pensions with some providers whilst non resident. This includes transferring a stakeholder pension into a SIPP.

Benefits can ordinarily be taken from 55 years of age. This will change to 57 from 2028 (though if your pension is set up by April 2023, the old rule of 55 may still apply)[1].

If your life expectancy is less than a year due to serious ill health, you may be able to take the whole pension pot as a tax free lump sum.

Providers should be kept up to date with your address. There may be death benefit nomination forms, which should be kept up to date too.

It is estimated that around £20billion is sitting in lost or forgotten pension pots. The Pension Tracing Service helps to reconnect people with their pension pots.

UK savings and investments

UK-based savings and investment options are limited for Japan-resident individuals.

ISAs

You cannot open or make new contributions to an ISA as a non-UK resident after the tax year in which you leave the UK[2].

Existing accounts can be maintained (and a limited number of providers may allow you to transfer an existing ISA to them), but Japan does not recognise the tax-protected status of these accounts. After becoming a permanent resident for tax purposes (after 5 years of residence in Japan; see residency for tax purposes), income from these accounts are subject to Japanese taxes and should be declared on a tax return.

Japan has its own tax-advantaged accounts for residents of Japan: see NISA and iDeCo.

National Savings and Investments

NS&I doesn’t have residency restrictions for many of its accounts, but will ordinarily require a linked UK bank account.

UK bank accounts

Options for opening or retaining UK bank accounts whilst resident in Japan may be limited.

Wise and Revolut offer multi-currency accounts for residents of Japan. The GBP accounts comes with a UK sort code and account number, and the multi-currency accounts comes with a debit card.

British citizenship

Citizenship laws are complex. This section aims to provide relevant, readable and referenced information for Japan residents, including:

Gov.uk provides a tool to check if an individual has British citizenship.

British citizen by descent, and British citizen otherwise than by descent

A British citizen is either a British citizen by descent or a British citizen otherwise than by descent. There is no difference between these two classifications except the automatic ability to pass on British citizenship to their children.

A British citizen otherwise than by descent is someone who can pass their citizenship onto a child born overseas. Generally speaking, a British citizen otherwise than by descent is a British citizen who was born, adopted, naturalised or (in some cases) registered in the United Kingdom or a qualifying territory.

A British citizen by descent cannot normally pass on their British citizenship to a child born outside the UK. One large class of British citizens by descent are children born outside the UK to one parent who was a British citizen otherwise than by descent.

This six-page government summary provides further detail in a readable format.

The text of the underpinning legislation can be accessed here:

Children of British citizens

Below is a summary of the British citizenship status of children in four scenarios (considering whether the parent is a British citizen by descent or otherwise, and whether the child is born in the UK or overseas):

Parent →

Child ↓

British citizen otherwise than by descent

(eg born, adopted, naturalised in UK)

British citizen by descent

(eg born overseas)

Born in UK

(or a qualifying territory, or to a parent working for the crown overseas)

British citizen otherwise than by descent British citizen otherwise than by descent
Born overseas

(excluding qualifying territories, and excluding to a parent working for the crown overseas)

British citizen by descent

unless:

  • child born before 1 January 1983 and only mother was a British citizen
  • child born before 1 January 2006 and British father not married to the child's mother at the time of birth

(in the case of these exceptions, the child is not automatically a British citizen, but registration as a British citizen will normally be possible)

Not automatically a British citizen

(registration of the child as a British citizen might be possible if eligibility requirements are met)

Broadly speaking, British citizens are able to pass on their citizenship whilst abroad for one generation. The subsequent generation of children will not automatically have British citizenship if they are also born abroad. They may, however, be eligible for registration as British citizens, which is a less arduous process than naturalisation.

However, it is important to note the following:

  • Before 1 January 1983 British women were not able to pass on citizenship to children born outside the UK in the same way as British men. Children born before 1 January 1983 to British mothers can apply for registration as a British citizen under Section 4C of the British Nationality Act 1981. They will normally qualify if they would have become British citizens automatically under that Act had women been able to pass on citizenship in the same way as men. Form UKM and the guidance should be used.
  • Before 1 July 2006 a British man could not pass on citizenship to a child born outside the UK if he was not married to the child’s mother. Similarly, a child born between 1 January 1983 and 30 June 2006 in the UK to a settled or British citizen father might not have become a British citizen if the parents were not married. Children born to unmarried British or settled fathers can apply for registration as a British citizen under sections 4G – 4I of the British Nationality Act 1981[3]. They will normally qualify if they would have become British citizens automatically under that Act had their parents been married. The application form (Form UKF(M)) and guidance can be found here.
  • A child born on or after 1 July 2006 to a British father whose mother was married to someone other than the natural father has entitlement to registration as a British citizen provided they would have become British citizens automatically had their (natural) father been married to their mother, and are of good character. The application form (Form UKF(M)) and guidance can be found here.

Children of British citizens by descent

British citizens by descent cannot pass on British citizenship to their children in all circumstances (as seen in the final cell of the above table). However, there are a number of cases whereby their child(ren) could automatically be British citizens upon birth or could be registered as British citizens as minors, including:

Section of the British Nationality Act 1981 under which the child has a claim to British citizenship Brief description of the eligibility criteria Automatically a British citizen? If registration is required, is the route to British citizenship an 'entitlement' or a 'discretion'[4] British citizen by descent or British citizen otherwise than by descent
Section 1(1) Child born in the UK Yes N/A British citizen otherwise than by descent
Section 2(1) Child's other parent is a British citizen otherwise than by descent; child is born overseas (in this case, the child's British citizenship derives from the child's other parent) Yes N/A British citizen by descent
Section 3(2) The British citizen by descent spends three or more years in the UK at any time prior to the birth of his/her child (overseas) and one or both of his/her parents were British citizens otherwise than descent; other parent is not a British citizen otherwise than by descent; application for registration is made while the child is a minor[5] No

(registration required before the child is 18)

Entitlement British citizen by descent
Section 3(5) The British citizen by descent, the child (born overseas), and the other parent (unless death or divorce prevent this) spend three years in the UK immediately prior to application for registration while the child is a minor[5], and both parents (if possible) consent to the application; other parent is not a British citizen otherwise than by descent No

(registration required before the child is 18)

Entitlement British citizen otherwise than by descent[6]

Children adopted by a British citizen overseas are sometimes eligible for registration as British citizens via Section 3(1). However, adoptions in Japan will not be eligible, because Japan does not appear on any of the following lists[7]:

Registration as a British Citizen

Registration of a minor as a British Citizen is available in cases as discussed above, including:

  • Section 3(2): a British citizen by descent spends three or more years in the UK at any time prior to the birth of his/her child and one or both of his/her parents were British citizens otherwise than descent, the child (born overseas) should have entitlement to be registered as a British citizen provided he/she is a minor[5] at the time of registration
  • Section 3(5): a British citizen by descent, his/her child (born overseas), and the other parent (unless death or divorce prevent this) spend three years in the UK immediately prior to application for registration while the child is a minor[5], and both parents (if possible) consent to the application

Section 3(2) registrations give the child British citizenship by descent, whereas Section 3(5) registrations give the child British citizenship otherwise than by descent. In cases where an application for registration by Section 3(2) is made prior to a child's 15th birthday (ie in cases where it would still be possible for the child and parent(s) to live in the UK for three years before the child reaches 18 and apply via Section 3(5)), there are two checkboxes on the application form to state you are aware of the implications of this and want to proceed anyway.

Section 3(2) and Section 3(5) both have three-year rules. The below table examines who these rules apply to, the deadlines, and the wording of the legislation:

Section 3(2) and Section 3(5): summary of the three-year rules
Who the three-year rule applies to When must the three-year stay be completed Wording of the three-year rule
Section 3(2) The British citizen by descent Before the birth of the child as regards some period of three years ending with a date not later than the date of the birth:

(i) the parent in question was in the United Kingdom (or a qualifying territory) at the beginning of that period; and

(ii) the number of days on which the parent in question was absent from the United Kingdom (and the qualifying territories) in that period does not exceed 270.

Thus, a period of less than three years but with fewer than 270 days of absence might satisfy this condition

Section 3(5) The British citizen by descent and

the other parent (if possible) and the child

Before application for registration, which must occur before the child is 18 that person and his father and mother were in the United Kingdom (or a qualifying territory) at the beginning of the period of three years ending with the date of the application and that, in the case of each of them, the number of days on which the person in question was absent from the United Kingdom (and the qualifying territories) in that period does not exceed 270

Registration involves an application and a fee of about £1,000 (unless a fee waiver is applied for and granted). Guidance for the application should be followed in full, as part of the application form requires you to confirm you have understood the guidance. Ordinarily, two referees are required.

Registration under Section 3 is not possible for adults.

Section 4 allows registration for adults in limited circumstances (eg British overseas citizens). Individuals born before 1 July 2006 to a British father who was not married to the mother may be able to register as British citizens via Sections 4C-4I (this applies to minors and adults). The eligibility criteria are summarised below:

  • you were born before 1 July 2006
  • you would have become a British citizen automatically if your mother had been married to your natural (biological) father
  • you have never been a British citizen

Gov.uk guidance can be found here.

Naturalisation as a British Citizen

Individuals wishing to naturalise as a British citizen should check the gov.uk guidance carefully, as eligibility criteria are dependent on circumstances.

A summary of conditions for two main routes to naturalisation are shown below:

Route to naturalisation Summary of specific conditions Link Summary of general conditions
Spouse or civil partner of a British citizen
  • have lived in the UK for the last 3 years and can prove you were in the UK exactly 3 years before the application
  • either have IDL or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or indefinite leave to enter the UK
link
Indefinite Leave to Remain (IDL) or Settled Status
  • lived in the UK for 5 years and can prove you were in the UK exactly 5 years before the application
  • held one of the following statuses for 12 months: IDL or settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme or indefinite leave to enter the UK
  • intend to continue living in the UK
link

Renunciation and Resumption of British Citizenship

British nationals who wish to naturalise as Japanese, and people who possess both British and Japanese nationalities (a large sub-set of whom would be offspring of British and Japanese nationals aged below 22 years of age) and who wish to retain their Japanese nationality when their deadline for their choice of nationality approaches, may wish to renounce their British nationality in order to comply with Japanese nationality law.

Applicants must be aged 18 or over. Online applications are encouraged, but applicants may wish to consult the paper application form to see the questions in their entirety before entering data online on a page by page basis. The guidance and fee information should also be consulted.

If an application is successful, a certificate of renunciation will be received. If a successful applicant doesn’t already have Japanese citizenship, he or she will have six months to gain citizenship, otherwise the British renunciation will be invalid.

You have a right (once only) to be registered as a British citizen if you previously renounced British citizenship in order to keep or acquire another citizenship (resumption). Further instances are at the discretion of the Home Secretary.

The British Nationality Act 1981 provides the legal framework for Renunciation (Section 12) and Resumption (Section 13).

Considerations with Japanese nationality law

Japanese nationality law has some aspects which might affect British citizens or those considering becoming British citizens. These include:

  • children who automatically acquire both Japanese and British citizenship at birth are entitled to keep both citizenships until their choice of nationality
  • British citizens wishing to naturalise as Japanese need to renounce their British citizenship in order to naturalise
  • Japanese citizens wishing to naturalise as British will lose their Japanese nationality upon naturalisation

British Passports

Applying for a British passport from Japan

British citizens resident in Japan who require the issuance, replacement or renewal of a British passport should ordinarily follow the instructions at gov.uk. Passports will be issued from HM Passport Office in the UK via courier. An Emergency Travel Document might be issued rapidly in limited circumstances, eg if a passport is lost, stolen or damaged ahead of imminent travel.

The gov.uk tool takes the user through multiple questions, then requires a photo and payment before revealing all the required supporting documents. Therefore, applicants may wish to consult the application form, guidance, and supporting documents before using the tool. If searching for information, note that Japan is in Group 1 of countries (there are different supporting document requirements for countries in different groups).

The aforementioned guidance is clear and comprehensive, but it is worth drawing attention to several points:

  • countersignatures will be needed in many cases (with a major exception being simple renewal of an adult passport with no changes and with the likeness of the applicant being still recognisable from the previous passport); full details and rules are found on pages 12-13 of the guidance
  • it is possible to make minor changes to your name on your passport, eg deleting middle names. Individuals running into repeated name issues in Japan might consider this... though it could cause problems as well as solving some.
  • a consular birth registration certificate cannot be used as a birth certificate; a translated version of the locally issued birth certificate must be used

Applying for a British passport whilst visiting the UK

Applicants wishing to apply for a British passport as an overseas resident while visiting the UK should follow this process.

Reporting a lost or stolen passport

You can report and cancel a lost or stolen passport online.

This 2018 government press release gives further information and statistics about the importance of cancelling the passport as soon as possible to minimise the risk of identity fraud.

Reporting the death of a British passport holder and cancelling the passport

Follow this guide (including Form D1) to send a deceased British citizen's passport back to HMPO.

Certificate of Entitlement to Right of Abode in the United Kingdom

If you are a British citizen you automatically have the right of abode in the UK. If you do not have a British passport, you can apply for a Certificate of Entitlement to Right of Abode in the United Kingdom. This certificate goes in your (non-British) passport, costs £388 from outside the UK and cannot be transferred to another passport (so expires when your passport expires or is cancelled). You are ineligible for a certificate if you already have a British passport or a valid certificate of entitlement in another foreign passport.

Individuals who have continuously held Commonwealth citizenship from 31st December 1982 might also have the right of abode in the UK and can apply for the certificate. Eligibility either comes via parents or marriage and both routes are summarised below:

Parents

  • one of your parents was born in the UK and a citizen of the UK and colonies at the time of your birth or adoption
  • you were a Commonwealth citizen on 31st December 1982 and have continuously retained Commonwealth citizenship since

Marriage

  • be a female Commonwealth citizen
  • have been married to someone with right of abode prior to 1st January 1983
  • have continuously held Commonwealth citizenship since 31st December 1982
  • not be subject to exclusions based on the person you were married to having other living wives or widows (full rules on gov.uk site)

Immigration (Certificate of Entitlement to Right of Abode in the United Kingdom) Regulations 2006 is the legislation underpinning the certificate.

Voting and Representation

Currently British citizens resident outside the UK are usually[9] eligible to vote in UK Parliament Elections and some referendums up to 15 years after leaving the UK, provided that they were registered to vote before leaving the UK (or a parent/guardian was registered if the citizen was too young to vote before they left the UK). They are known as overseas electors.

Overseas electors must register in the constituency in which they were registered before leaving the UK. Those who never registered to vote before leaving the UK are ineligible to register as overseas electors, with the exception of those who left the UK as children, who are able to register using a parent or guardian's registration address (if a parent or guardian was registered).

Registration must be renewed annually.

Registering and voting in England, Wales and Scotland

You can use the online service to register to vote. Alternatively, select the relevant application form here, complete and post to your Electoral Registration Officer whose address can be found via www.electoralcommission.org.uk.

Within the registration process, you will ordinarily be asked for your preferred voting method (in person, proxy, or by post). The Electoral Commission recommends that overseas voters should consider appointing a proxy to vote on their behalf because of the short period available for ballots to be sent and returned from overseas during an election[10].

You can find and contact your local Electoral Registration Office online.

Registering and voting in Northern Ireland

Those applying to register as an overseas elector in Northern Ireland should use the Northern Ireland overseas elector registration form.

  • Voting by proxy is possible, and an applicant should complete an application form. Note that a reason for the proxy vote (disability, employment or education) needs to be given, and this requirement could potentially disenfranchise applicants as they may not be disabled, employed or engaged in education, but simply living abroad (retired, perhaps).
  • Voting by post is not possible for overseas electors[11].

You can contact the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland by various methods as described in the link.

'Votes for life'

The Elections Act 2022 makes provision for 'votes for life' for eligible British citizens living abroad. However, secondary legislation is required before the provisions of the Act can be fully implemented. This is expected to happen in 2023, with overseas voters being able to vote under new rules from 2024.[12]

Some key expected changes are:

  • Removal of the 15-year rule; overseas electors will have 'votes for life'
  • Eligibility for registration will be simplified to those previously registered to vote in the UK or previously resident in the UK. In particular, this eliminates the current situation whereby some people are disenfranchised due to the choices of their parents or guardians: currently those who move abroad as children are only able to register to vote if a parent/guardian was registered to vote.
  • Registration renewal to be every three years (rather than the current annual renewal)

Two readable yet authoritative resources providing further detail can be found here:

Representation

The MP for your registered constituency will be your representative in parliament.

You can contact your MP via email or letter.

Most MPs receive a high volume of communication and many will only respond to constituents, and some have an auto-reply stating that they will only respond if you confirm your address. In the case of overseas voters, it might be worth concisely but clearly stating your ties, eg "I am contacting you as a registered overseas voter in your constituency (my address is XXX Japan; until January 20XX I was registered to vote with a postcode of XXX YYY)."

Voting and Representation resources

HMRC Subject Access Request (SAR)

Individuals have the right to make a Subject Access Request (SAR) with HMRC. This allows the individual to access information HMRC holds on them, and a request could include:

  • employment history
  • record of earnings
  • tax paid
  • National Insurance Contributions paid
  • benefits received
  • record of written correspondence or telephone calls

Thus, an SAR could be useful for retrieving information that may be required for an application to make voluntary NICs, for claiming a UK state pension, or for other purposes.

The SAR can be made online, by phone or webchat, or in writing, and there is no charge. Ordinarily, the request will be actioned within one month of receipt.

Driving Licence

Exchanging a GB or NI licence for a Japanese licence

It is possible to exchange a valid GB or NI driving licence for a Japanese driving licence without taking a practical driving test. One of the requirements is at least three months of residence in the UK since the licence was issued. Acceptable proof of this may vary on a case by case basis.

In my experience (sample of 1), although the process is called "exchange", I kept my GB licence, and acquired a Japanese one.

Notes on GB licences whilst non-resident

It can be difficult to find authoritative information on the status of GB licences for non residents. Some considerations are:

  • Even if a GB licence is "exchanged" for a Japanese licence, the physical GB licence might be retained (see above)
  • DVLA must be informed of change of personal details including change of address (and there can be a fine of up to £1,000 for non compliance)[13]... yet only a GB address can be included on a GB licence
  • A GB licence cannot be renewed whilst not resident in GB[14]
  • Non-residents (and recent arrivals to GB) cannot apply for GB licences, eg a British citizen resident abroad cannot simply book and take a GB driving test on a visit or short period of residency in Great Britain

Some resources are:

Driving in the UK as a resident of Japan

For information about driving in GB and NI as a Japan resident, see #Driving_in_GB_and_NI_as_a_resident_of_Japan.

National Insurance Number (NINO)

  • Non-UK residents are not eligible to apply for a NINO[15].
  • Methods of retrieving a lost NINO can be found on this gov.uk page.
  • A NINO is required to make voluntary National Insurance Contributions.
  • A NINO can be used as a UK Tax Identification Number (TIN)[16]. For example, if you are dual tax resident in the UK and Japan and open a Japanese bank account, the Japanese bank will require your UK TIN.

NINO resources

Double Tax

The Japan-UK Double Tax Convention exists to minimise the effects of being doubly taxed by Japan and the UK.

Living or working abroad or offshore: detailed information - UK Government taxation guide for non-UK-residents.

Depending on circumstances, the following forms may be applicable for applying to HMRC for relief/exemption/refund on UK taxes. Please refer to the guidance notes for each form.

  • Form Japan-1-DT is for use by an individual resident in Japan receiving pensions, interest or royalties arising in the UK to apply for relief from UK income tax.
  • Form Japan-2-DT is for use by a company or concern resident in Japan receiving interest or royalties arising in the UK to apply for relief from UK income tax. (Do not use this form to claim exemption from UK tax on interest under Article 11(3) of the Double Taxation Convention. Use form Japan-3-DT.)
  • Form Japan-3-DT is for use by an entity identified in Article 11(3) of the Double Taxation Convention to apply for exemption from UK income tax on interest.
  • Form Japan-4-DT is for use by a company or concern resident in Japan to claim repayment of UK income tax deducted from property income dividends paid by UK Real Estate Investment Trusts (‘UK-REITs’).
  • Form UK REIT-DT-Individual is for use by an individual resident in a country with which the UK has a double tax treaty or convention that provides for relief from UK income tax on dividends paid by UK Real Estate Investment Trusts (‘UK-REITs’).

Your local Japanese tax office can supply a bilingual certificate of residency (PDF) for the purposes of claiming double tax convention benefits. It may prove to be much easier to get the Japanese tax office to issue this rather than signing and stamping a section on one of the above HMRC forms.

Personal experience is that it was relatively quick and straightforward to gain a refund from HMRC on doubly taxed royalties (Form Japan-1-DT), but it is proving a long-running saga for HMRC to issue tax exemption certificates which would prevent my UK payers of royalties from withholding UK income tax in the first place. The tax residency certificate worked in place of the Japanese tax office stamping and signing the HMRC form.

Getting married in Japan: information for British citizens

The main article Getting married in Japan provides more detailed guidance on the process. This section provides information specific to British citizens.

British citizens wishing to marry in Japan should follow the gov.uk guide.

A marriage or civil partnership will be recognised in the UK if both of the following apply:

  • you followed the correct process in the country where you got married
  • it would be allowed under UK law

Opposite sex marriage

For British citizens, an affirmation (non-religious) or affidavit (religious) is required and this serves as the ‘certificate of no impediment’ which the municipal office may refer to. To obtain the affirmation or affidavit the British citizen must read a statement and sign the document in front of an official at the British Embassy in Tokyo, and this is done on an appointment-only basis. If both partners are British, both need to make appointments. The affirmation or affidavit includes the date of the proposed marriage, and for this reason it is recommended that you visit the municipal office with all documents before the proposed date; otherwise, if documents are rejected, you may have to return to the British Embassy to obtain a new affirmation or affidavit.

A ‘long birth certificate’ (as opposed to the ‘short birth certificate’ issued at birth) will be required and this can be ordered online from the General Register Office or Scotlands People. Check in advance with your local municipal office whether they require your long birth certificate translated. There might be local variations on whether they accept the English original, the English original with an informal translation, or the English original with an official translation.

Same sex marriage or civil partnership

Same sex marriage or civil partnership is possible under UK law at the British Embassy in Tokyo provided that at least one partner is British, but will not be recognised in Japan. The process involves giving notice of the proposed marriage or civil partnership at the British Embassy, and then getting married or forming a civil partnership at the British Embassy. The marriage or civil partnership requires two witnesses. Full details and document requirements can be found in the guide on gov.uk.

It is also possible to convert a same sex civil partnership (formed in the UK) into a marriage at the British Embassy in Tokyo, provided that at least one partner is British.

Informing UK institutions of marriage or civil partnership

  • It is no longer possible to register a marriage or civil partnership abroad with the UK consular service[17].
  • You may need to inform HMRC
  • The terms and conditions of UK student loans include a requirement to inform SLC if you get married (the wording does not mention civil partnerships)
  • private pension providers (death benefit form may need updating)
  • Etc

If your name changes, then the list of institutions to inform may be significantly longer.

UK Consular Birth Registration

British consular birth registration is a service offered by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office which allows a British citizen born overseas to have their birth registered with the General Register Office or National Records Office of Scotland in addition to the locally issued birth certificate.

The fee for consular birth registration is £150[18] and consular birth registration certificates can be obtained for a fee of £50[18] each (cheaper copies, currently priced at £11, will be available from the November after the year of registration[19]). Whether or not certificates are ordered initially, the shipping fee for the return of documents costs £5 to the UK, £17.50 to a range of European countries and £22.50 to the rest of the world[18].

As part of the registration process, it is possible to confirm the name as it should be rendered in English, which should be the same as in the local birth registration with a few exceptions, such as clear Anglicisations (eg Arisu -> Alice), adding a middle name or middle names, and registering the surname as the British parent's surname (if not already registered locally), or registering the surname as a double-barrelled name formed from both parents’ surnames.

Please note the following important information:

  • consular birth registration is available for eligible individuals born on or after 1st January 1983
  • consular birth registration is available for people born overseas with automatic acquisition of British citizenship; people who acquire British citizenship through adoption, Home Office registration or naturalisation are not eligible for consular birth registration
  • a person does not acquire British nationality by virtue of having a consular birth registration
  • consular birth registration is not required to obtain a British passport
  • a UK consular birth registration certificate is not a UK birth certificate and should not be used as one
  • a UK consular birth registration certificate not replace the original birth certificate issued by the authorities in the country in which the birth took place
  • consular birth registration should not be confused with registration of an individual as a British citizen; see the differences below:
Type of 'registration' Eligibility
Consular birth registration An individual born overseas who automatically acquired British citizenship at birth and who wishes to have a permanent record of the birth recorded with the UK authorities in addition to the local birth certificate
Registration as a British citizen An individual who is not automatically a British citizen but who fulfils eligibility criteria to apply for registration as a British citizen via the British Nationality Act 1981, and more specifically, Section 3 (minors) and Section 4 (British overseas territories citizens, etc)


Unlike a UK birth certificate, the UK consular birth registration certificate will state the child's claim to British citizenship (and also that of the parent(s)). In many cases, the child's claim will be listed as 'S2(1)(a) British Nationality Act 1981', ie a person born outside the UK whose father or mother is a British citizen other than by descent at the time of the child's birth[20].

The 'informant' should be a parent of the child being registered (unless there is a valid reason for another person to act as an informant), or the individual himself/herself if the applicant is aged 18 or more (in which case, the individual could register his or her own birth in this way including the gaining of a middle name or middle names).

Among the document requirements for the consular birth registration is the local birth certificate. If the birth was in Japan, the required document is called the shussetodoke kisaijiko shomeisho (出生届記載事項証明書). This is a certified copy of the A3 form that the hospital and parents fill in to register the birth, and is different from the birth registration notification. It can be ordered from the municipal office at the time of registering the birth or shortly afterwards. It may have to be ordered from a different office if significant time has passed since the birth registration. Official translation into English is required.

Advantages of consular birth registration

  • the certificate is a government-issued document providing proof of British citizenship without an expiry date (unlike a passport)
  • replacement copies can be obtained relatively cheaply and easily, which may not be true of the original birth certificate
  • it is in English, so no official translations are required when using the certificate for purposes within the UK
  • it provides a permanent and official record of the name in English, including middle names

Death of a British citizen in Japan

The British government publishes a guide to help deal with practical arrangements following the death of a British citizen in Japan.

The 'Tell Us Once' service in which a death is reported to multiple government departments in one go is not ordinarily available to those residing abroad[21]. UK-based institutions which may need informing of the death include:

  • Passport Office
  • Electoral Registration Office
  • International Pension Centre
  • UK personal pension providers (eg stakeholder pensions, SIPPs, etc)
  • UK banks, building societies, etc
  • DVLA / DVA
  • Student Loans Company

UK consular death registration

There is no requirement to register the death with the UK authorities, but it is possible to do so if the death happened on or after 1st January 1983. If you choose to register the death with the UK authorities, the death will be recorded with the General Register Offices (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and the National Records Office of Scotland, and you can order a consular death registration certificate. The application form can be found here and needs mailing to the UK together with the required documents.

Making a will

  1. According to the Japanese government, non-Japanese citizens in Japan have their estate dealt with under the law of their 'home country'.
  2. UK law says that UK citizens living abroad will have their estates dealt with under the law of their country of residence. Other countries may differ.

The safest approach would seem to be, make as simple a provision in both countries as possible. For information about making a Japanese will, see making a will.

Making a UK will

If your situation is simple, you may be perfectly fine making a will online without legal advice. If your situation is complicated, it is recommended that you consult a solicitor, which you can also do online, via email if necessary.

The UK Law Society recommends employing someone carrying its ‘Wills & Inheritance Quality’ accreditation.

If you employ a solicitor, they will store a copy with HM Courts and Tribunals Service. This can be very useful if the will goes missing for any reason. You can do this yourself, the fee for which is £20 (as of 2021-12-13).

This Monevator post has more on how things work in the UK.

There is also a bi-annual event called Free Wills Month, where you can have a will made free, but you are expected to make a donation to charity.

Other useful links:

UK Student Loan Repayments

If you have a UK student loan, you are required to tell the Student Loans Company if you leave the UK for more than three months.

People with loans who live abroad are required to fill in an Overseas Income Assessment Form and supply evidence dependent on whether they are (a) employed, (b) self-employed, or (c) not in employment. (There is no facility to check multiple categories; an adviser stated that an applicant should check the most applicable category.) Both the form and the evidence can be submitted online, or posted to Glasgow. Repayments depend upon your loan type and income and are ordinarily made via monthly direct debit.

You will be asked to submit a new Overseas Income Assessment Form annually, together with evidence. You should also do so if your circumstances change in the interim (including if you receive a bonus). A new JPY:GBP exchange rate and JPY income threshold for your loan type will be applied annually, so even with no change in circumstances, repayment amounts may vary from year to year.

If you do not submit the correct evidence, there is a 'fixed monthly repayment' that could be applied, and this rate is considerably higher than many people would be paying had evidence been submitted. A higher rate of interest may also be applied. Also, fines could be applied for failure to keep SLC updated with details such as address change, change of employment or change of employment status, change of country of residence, change of marital status. Anecdotally, it seems lots of people lapse on notifications but are able to avoid fines, punitive interest rates, etc.  

Repayment thresholds, exchange rates, and fixed monthly repayments

2022-2023 earnings thresholds and fixed monthly repayments for Japan
Loan type Exchange Rate Earnings threshold (GBP) Earnings threshold (JPY) Fixed monthly repayments (GBP) Fixed monthly repayments (JPY)
Plan 1 0.006664 £20,195 ¥3,030,462 £246 ¥36,914
Plan 2 0.006664 £27,295 ¥4,095,888 £201 ¥30,162
Plan 4 0.006664 £25,375 ¥3,807,773 £201 ¥30,162
Postgraduate 0.006664 £21,000 ¥3,151,260 £201 ¥30,162

Plan 1

  • an English or Welsh student (or an EU student who studied in England or Wales) who took out a loan before 1 September 2012
  • a Northern Irish student (or an EU student who studied in Northern Ireland) who took out a loan on or after 1 September 1998

Plan 2

  • an English or Welsh student (or an EU student who studied in England or Wales) who took out a loan on or after 1 September 2012
  • an EU student who started an undergraduate course anywhere in England or Wales on or after 1 September 2012
  • someone who took out an Advanced Learner Loan on or after 1 August 2013

Plan 4

  • a Scottish student who started an undergraduate or postgraduate course anywhere in the UK on or after 1 September 1998
  • an EU student who started an undergraduate course in Scotland on or after 1 September 1998

Postgraduate Loan

Reporting requirements

In addition to submitting the Overseas Income Form on request, individuals with loans are obliged to tell SLC of any change of name, address, if you get married (NB no mention is made of civil partnerships, nor divorce, nor becoming a widow(er)), if you change your employment status (eg from employed to self-employed). This list is not exhaustive. Refer to the terms and conditions.

Cancellation of the loan upon death

Any outstanding balance on a UK student loan can be cancelled if the holder of the loan dies. Evidence as detailed in the link needs supplying to the SLC.

Visiting the UK

Visas, customs, etc

'Visit the UK for a holiday or to see family or friends' is a gov.uk guide covering the following topics:

  1. Check if you're eligible (to visit the UK + check the list of allowed activities on a visit)
  2. Check if you need a visa (Japanese citizens do not need a visa for visits of up to 6 months[22])
  3. Apply for a visa / family permit / visa waiver (the visa waiver requiring an application is only for citizens of Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and UAE)
  4. Check what you can bring with you
  5. Check what you need to show at the UK border

Travelling with children

This Border Force leaflet explains that if you are travelling to the UK with children (under 18) and are not the parent or may not appear to be the parent (for example, if you have a different family name), checks may be carried out to ascertain the relationship between adult and child. Carrying evidence such as the following may help to smoothen the process:

  • a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child
  • divorce / marriage certificates if you are the parent but have a different surname to the child
  • a letter from the child’s parent(s) giving authority for the child to travel with you and providing contact details if you are not the parent

Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 is the legislation underpinning the duty of the UK government regarding the welfare of children.

Driving in GB and NI as a resident of Japan

Holders of Japanese driving licences who are visiting the UK are permitted to drive in GB and NI[23] for up to 12 months. Although not required, getting a Wikipedia:International Driving Permit might be a good idea. A translation of the licence may also be beneficial; note that an International Driving Permit translates name, nationality, date of birth, and address, but not the date of expiry of the Japanese driving licence. Recent Japanese driving licences display the expiry date using Gregorian years, which might prove useful if using the licence internationally.

Although published before Brexit, the DVLA Guidelines (PDF) give clear rules on driving in GB on licences from 'designated countries', including Japan.

This nidirect.gov.uk article summarises the rules on driving on foreign licences in NI.

When exchanging a GB licence for a Japanese licence, the Japanese authorities might not retain the GB licence. The DVLA does not appear to publish information on whether a GB licence which has been exchanged for a non-GB licence yet has been retained by the licence holder is valid for driving (in GB or elsewhere). In any case, GB licences are not renewable from Japan.

Eligibility for NHS treatment

NHS treatment is available in Scotland (PDF) for former UK residents (and their spouse/civil partner and children) who meet eligibility criteria, summarised as:

  1. currently working abroad
  2. lived legally in the UK for 10+ years in the past
  3. EITHER left the UK less than five years ago OR return to visit the UK at least once every two years (or meet other criteria as detailed in the official guidance)

Discounts for non-UK residents

Non-UK residents are eligible for special deals including:

Tax free shopping

From 1st January 2021, the UK government ended the tax free shopping scheme in most circumstances.

In England, Scotland and Wales tax free shopping is only possible on goods delivered to an address outside the UK and only by participating retailers.

In Northern Ireland some retailers still offer tax free shopping in person, which involves paying the full amount and then claiming a VAT refund. The refund is not applicable if travelling directly from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

See the gov.uk page on tax free shopping.

State pension 'thawing' and Christmas Bonuses

A 'frozen' UK state pension may be 'thawed' (temporarily uprated) during visits to the UK or other 'unfrozen' countries (excluding USA and Bermuda)[24]. Individuals for whom this is relevant should contact the International Pension Centre (tel: +44 (0)191 2187777; fax: +44 (0)191 2187021; mail: The Pension Service 11, Mail Handling Site A, WV98 1LW, United Kingdom).

Additionally, if you are a UK state pension recipient and are present in the UK[25] in the 'qualifying week' (ordinarily the first week of December), you may be eligible for a £10 Christmas Bonus. This may need claiming via communication with the International Pension Centre. The legislation giving the right to Chistmas bonuses can be found here.

Applying for a British passport while visiting the UK

This gov.uk page details the process of applying for a British passport while visiting the UK.

Voting in person as an overseas elector

If you are registered to vote as an overseas elector, you are entitled to vote in person at your polling station.

Even if you have applied to vote by proxy, you are able to cast your vote in person if (a) your proxy has not already voted, and (b) your proxy has not applied to cast the proxy vote by post.[26]

Record-keeping

Records of visits to the UK might be useful for a number of purposes, including:

Boarding passes represent better evidence than travel tickets, as tickets could be bought but the journey not made.

Moving to the UK

Returning to the UK is a gov.uk guide for British citizens returning to the UK after living abroad.

Permission to enter/live in the UK

  • A family visa can allow a non-British citizen with British family (or family who have settled status in the UK) to live in the UK.
    • There are financial requirements, accommodation requirements and language requirements for the visa. This accessible summary published by freemovement.org.uk should be used in conjunction with the gov.uk guidance.
    • If applying as a spouse of a British citizen from abroad, note that the British citizen has to 'sponsor' the applicant and it is the British citizen who is subject to the financial requirements. A sponsor without any non-British dependents will ordinarily require savings of £62,500 or earnings of £18,600. Sponsors with non-British dependents will need to meet or exceed higher thresholds. Exact rules and requirements of evidence should be carefully researched.
    • Ordinarily a family visa will be issued for 2 years 9 months. An extension will ordinarily be granted for 2 years 6 months. After 5 years of living in the UK on a family visa, an individual is usually eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
  • Youth Mobility Scheme visas (ie the UK's version of 'working holiday visas') are available to citizens from a small selection of countries including Japan. Japanese citizens aged 18-30 are eligible to apply but must first be selected in the Youth Mobility Scheme visa ballot, the rules of which can be seen on the link. (Citizens of Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan also have ballots; citizens of Australia, Canada, Monaco, New Zealand, San Marino and Iceland can apply directly, as can British overseas citizens.)
  • A healthcare surcharge is payable in addition to visa fees for many individuals applying for visas to live in the UK
  • A Returning Resident visa is a visa for individuals who have previously held Indefinite Leave to Remain but have let that status lapse via an absence from the UK of 2 or more years.
  • A Certificate of Entitlement to Right of Abode in the United Kingdom can be used by people who do not possess a British passport but do have right of abode, eg British citizens who only have non-British passports, and eligible Commonwealth citizens

Tax

Pensions and benefits

  • The International Pension Centre states that if returning to live in the UK individuals should contact the Pension Service and provide a return date and contact details, both abroad and in the UK
  • State pension recipients moving to the UK from 'frozen' countries such as Japan will have their state pension uprated
  • Child Benefit is ordinarily available to eligible individuals from 3 months after starting UK residence, but if Class 1 or Class 2 National Insurance contributions are up to date from working abroad, eligibility may be immediate on starting UK residence

Miscellaneous

  • This gov.uk guide to using the NHS when returning from abroad gives information on how to register and acceptable evidence that you have moved to live in the UK.
  • Home fees for UK universities are usually available to those who are resident and 'settled' in the UK on the first day of the first academic year of the course and who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for three years prior to the start of the course
  • Driving:
    • Information on driving licences (INS57P) provides guidance on driving licences, and has proven to be fairly frequently updated. However, information on some fairly routine queries can prove difficult or impossible to find regarding driving, licencing, and moving internationally.
    • You can drive in GB and NI for 12 months on a valid Japanese driving licence.
    • A Japanese licence can ordinarily be exchanged for a GB or NI licence.
    • If you previously held a GB licence and return to GB from a country that is not in the EEA, you can apply for a replacement of your previous GB licence[27]
  • A period of UK residency might confer certain rights on British citizens who have never lived in the UK, including:
    • A continuous three-year period of UK residency is one of the eligibility criteria for voluntary Class 3 national insurance contributions (this is not limited to British citizens)
    • Under the 'Votes for life' policy (expected to be enacted in effect from 2024), British citizens will be entitled to vote indefinitely provided they have been resident in the UK (or have previously been registered to vote in the UK). Secondary legislation may add clarity as to what constitutes a period of residency in the UK for voting purposes and what evidence will be required.
    • A three-year period of UK residency might give British citizens by descent the possibility of passing on their British citizenship, as their children born outside the UK would be eligible for registration as British citizens.

See Also

UK Government UK help and services in Japan portal.

Credits

Many thanks to the following RetireWiki.jp users for writing this article:

Kuma, Adamu, HeadofBean

Footnotes

  1. ‘’Which?’’: Loophole to beat pension age hike to 57 discovered: should you consider it?
  2. https://www.gov.uk/individual-savings-accounts/if-you-move-abroad
  3. See Section 4G, Section 4H, Section 4I
  4. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/form-mn1-guidance, p5
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Under 18, within the British Nationality Act 1981 (seehttps://www.gov.uk/government/publications/children-nationality-policy-guidance)
  6. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/61/section/14
  7. Intercountry Adoption and British Citizenship (Gov.uk guide)
  8. The 'designated countries' are those listed within The Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) Order 1973 and The Adoption (Designation of Overseas Adoptions) (Variation) Order 1993
  9. Exceptions include those too young to vote, and those with a legal incapacity to vote, eg those in prison, those with convictions of certain electoral crimes, and peers in the House of Lords.
  10. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn05923/, p7
  11. https://www.gov.uk/voting-when-abroad
  12. https://commonslibrary.parliament.uk/research-briefings/sn05923/
  13. https://www.gov.uk/change-address-driving-licence?step-by-step-nav=c1f13d41-ed7f-44a3-be11-fd95525ddf40
  14. https://www.gov.uk/renew-driving-licence
  15. https://www.gov.uk/apply-national-insurance-number
  16. https://www.oecd.org/tax/automatic-exchange/crs-implementation-and-assistance/tax-identification-numbers/UK-TIN.pdf
  17. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/marriage-certificate-registry-service-discontinued-for-overseas-brits
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 https://pay-register-birth-abroad.service.gov.uk/
  19. https://www.gov.uk/order-copy-birth-death-marriage-certificate
  20. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1981/61/section/2
  21. https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death/death-abroad
  22. https://www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa/y/japan/tourism
  23. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/advice-foreign-driving-licences-northern-ireland
  24. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/pensions/article-10786301/Can-state-pension-unfrozen-visit-UK.html
  25. Or Channel Islands or Isle of Man or Gibraltar
  26. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-to-vote-by-proxy-if-youre-living-overseas
  27. Information on driving licences (INS57P), p14