British National Overseas BNO VISA Hong Kong citizens who wish to live in the United Kingdom (UK) need to consider the type of VISAs available to them. It is advised that Hong Kong citizens that want to reside in the United Kingdom apply for their VISAs via a specialist. Many United Kingdom embassies in Hong Kong can take your UK VISA application. Typically, we see many Hong Kongers apply for the British National (Overseas), also referred to as a BNO VISA. Hong Kong citizens can apply for a UK VISA for employment, business, student or tourist. Albeit the number of days allowed to stay in the United Kingdom as a Hong Konger is limited as a tourist. We suggest that Hong Kong citizens looking to move to the United Kingdom identify a UK VISA specialist to prevent errors and delays in their VISA application. Children born after 1 July 1997 can apply separately from their parents. Your family members can also apply with you. You can apply to stay In the United Kingdom under a BNOP VISA for either: – 2 years and 6 months or – 5 years You can extend your visa once you are in the UK. You can apply to extend your VISA as many times as you want. You can apply to live in the UK permanently after five years. Hong Kong citizens moving to the United Kingdom and buying a UK Home Hong Kongers rarely have one point of contact when looking for a UK home or property investment. Hong Kong citizens must utilise online property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla. They need to be aware that there is a purchase tax on buying a residential property as a home or as a buy-to-let investment. HMRC require foreigners (Hong Kongers not yet UK resident) to pay an additional 2% Stamp Duty foreign surcharge. This means that a Hong Konger looking to buy an apartment in London or Nottingham (as an example) at the cost of £600,000 will pay an additional £12,000 Stamp Duty Tax. The 2% foreign surcharge Stamp Duty is in addition to the banded Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) rates. The 2% foreign SDLT surcharge is also an additional amount to the 3% Stamp Duty higher rates. Please note that the 3% Stamp Duty additional rate applies to anyone buying a second property in their name or any property in a limited company. Feel free to use our Stamp Duty Land Tax calculator as a Hong Konger moving to the UK and wants to know more about the residential property purchase tax. We advise Hong Kong citizens to possibly wait until they are in the UK and become residents before they purchase a UK home to avoid the 2% Stamp Duty foreign surcharge. Capital Gains Tax on Hong Kong homes when moving to the UK Many Hong Konger homeowners will emotionally attach to their homes for many reasons. There is a pitfall in buying a UK home whilst retaining a Hong Kong home. HMRC will require Hong Kong citizens to pay a higher 3% Stamp Duty rate if they own a residential home. This is irrespective of where the property is in the world. Hong Kongers will not be aware of the Capital Gains Tax (CGT) charge when selling a home. The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) does not charge capital gains tax. However, Hong Kongers need to be aware that HMRC may apply a UK Capital Gains Tax charge on the residential home for the time they have not lived in the property (See: Private Residence Relief CGT exemption). Use our free Capital Gains Tax calculator to see how much tax you may need to pay to HMRC when selling a home in Hong Kong. Mortgages for Hong Kongers buying a UK home I will stipulate from the outset that the following few paragraphs do not constitute financial advice. You must seek a mortgage broker suitably qualified and regulated by the Finance Conduct Authority (FCA). In our experience of working with many Hong Kongers who move to the United Kingdom will be required to submit proof of income with their mortgage application: 6 or more months’ worth of bank statements (but may be less in certain circumstances) 2 years of tax accounts (UK self-assessment tax returns or limited company accounts) Many Hong Kongers will choose to rent a property for 6+ months in the United Kingdom while gathering the required information to get a reasonable mortgage interest rate when buying a UK home. One option that many Hong Kongers have opted for is to release money from their Hong Kong home where the mortgage interest rates are less than it is in the United Kingdom. Hong Kong citizens leaving HK need to think about mortgage terms and conditions. There may be elements of the mortgage that must be reviewed, especially if any conditions prevent you from moving abroad. UK Wills & Power of attorney (for Hong Kongers) When moving to the United Kingdom, Hong Kongers need to be aware that their wills and power of attorney have no effect in the UK. They must maintain their Hong Kong wills and Powers of Attorney for their HK assets. Hong Kongers need to consider a will and a Power of Attorney in the United Kingdom for their UK assets. A will is a document that informs the courts, loved ones and lawyers where they wish their assets to be gifted upon death. A power of attorney is a legal document that allows other people to act on their behalf for legal and financial matters in the event of incapacitation. A mirror will is a legal will in one country replicated in another. In this case, you can give a UK solicitor a Hong Kong will document. The UK solicitor translates the Hong Kong will document into UK law. It is worth working with a wills specialist who understands HK and UK family law, such as Geldards. Currency exchange rates for Hong Kongers moving to the UK Hong Kongers moving to the United Kingdom make the fatal error of exchanging their hard-earned money with an HK bank or high street money conversion shop. The issue is that these vendors do not give you the best rate and have hidden charges. This means that Hong Kongers get less UK Sterling for their HK dollars. We suggest that our HK clients moving to the United Kingdom to set up an account with Transfer Wise, where they will get the best exchange rates with the lowest charges. Additionally, timing is essential. HK citizens moving to the UK need to keep an eye on the exchange rate. They should set up triggers using Transfer Wise to alert them when they get the best conversion rates from HK dollars to UK Sterling.