Moving to London for 3 years, logistics of.

If one was interested in moving from the US to London for an extended period (3 years, but maybe indefinitely), what is required to accomplish that?
Is there a “green card” equivalent in the UK?
Does one have to have a job before moving?
How about if I open up a branch office of a US company - what does it take to make that official? Would that allow an extended stay?
How about health care - is that taken care of automatically, even if one is an “expat?”

We have dogs - what does it take to get them legal, too?

The logistics of this seem pretty overwhelming, but people must do it on a regular basis.

Dogs: When we moved there you had to quarantine your pets for 6 months. They are very scared of rabies in Britain. And no, having a rabies vaccination doesn’t matter. However I think they may have reduced the time to 3 months.

Other than that, I can’t help. I moved as part of the US Air Force when I was stationed there in 1988. The military had such moved down pat.

From my experience trying to do something similar
Get a visa. If you’re going to get a work visa look here. Note

but

As far as I can see, a dependent like spouse does not need to have a job before immigrating.
The hardest part is finding company willing to go to the hassle of getting a certificate of sponsorship for you. I have my QTS and am basically told why should they hire me as a teacher if they can get a British teacher. You need to have money in the bank which if I remember correctly works out to about $1800. For healthcare, tl;dr version it depends.

For dogs, they need to be microchipped but it has to be the international standard. Also quarantined.

We moved to London from an EU country in 2012. Our cats needed to be microchipped, have a rabies vaccination, and get a stamped passport 21 days after the vaccination but prior to departure to indicate they were ok. Plus they had to travel in cat carriers that were according to EU spec (and bloody expensive). Those rules would apply to your dogs coming from the US as well, if I’m reading this site correctly. There was no quarantine requirement.

Two possible strategies for getting a job in London if you are not an entrepreneur/exceptional talent:

  1. Come here for an extended vacation and use that time to network/interview. Of course you’d have done all your prep work months in advance so you’d have places to go and people to meet when you got here. You could catch a break that way.

  2. Go to work for a multinational firm in the US with a UK branch then get an overseas transfer. It is hard enough to get one of those transfers, but it is much, much harder to be hired in from abroad to a firm where you have no connection. The exception is if you have a highly-specialized and hard-to-come-by skill set. We get job applicants from all over the world, from inside and outside our firm. But as we can source virtually all our talent locally, we seldom interview anyone from outside the immediate area. Your chances of landing a job are exponentially better if you are local or about to become local.

In re: healthcare, as I recall we were covered as soon as we could prove we were here for the long term (by virtue of my employment and immigration eligibility). Which is pretty much what it says on this page.

And yes, moving countries is a big deal so the logistical and bureaucratic gyrations can be overwhelming at times. But if you get sponsored by a firm they will have helpful people to get you through it.

For the dogs:

It might be different if you’re coming from outside the EU, but I take my dog from the Netherlands to the UK and back all the time. Quarantine is no longer necessary. You just need a vaccination booklet and pet’s passport.

If you would otherwise need the quarantine hassle, consider going through the Netherlands. Go and see a vet, get the vacs, get a booklet and pet’s passport and then take the ferry across.

(Sorry, you mostly seem to be getting advice for your dogs! :stuck_out_tongue: )

Well, the dogs are a big issue, so thanks, everyone!

I wonder about the idea of setting up a European branch of our US-based company. We’re tiny, and have no (or almost no) money, so I don’t know if it makes sense, or is possible to do.

The flowchart for moving to England is basically this

Are you a doctor, nurse, or veterinarian?
Do you have any skills which can legitimately be called rare, such that it would be difficult to impossible to find a UK citizen who could do that thing?
Do you work for a multinational that wants to transfer you?
Do you have a parent, or spouse with British citizenship?
Do you have 200,000 GBP ($370,000) to invest in starting a business?

If the answer to all these questions are “No” then, basically, you can’t.

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/visas-immigration/working/tier1/

If it is any consolation, British citizens who wish to work in the US are in the same boat. It’s basically impossible for average folk.

The pet passport scheme also applies to dogs coming from the US. Your dog needs a rabies vaccination and tapeworm treatment a week or two before travelling.

Good list. One addition - if you or your spouse have an EU citizenship you can emigrate to the UK. Getting a work visa for the non-EU citizen may still be a hassle until obtaining a residency permit (we went through that joyous experience).

You can also get a visa to work in the UK if you have/had a grandparent with UK citizenship born in the UK. (One of my sons went that way, based on my mother being born in the UK.)

In addition, citizens of some countries in the right age group can get working holiday visas, but that’s not available to citizens of the US.

I’m American and even I know that London is extremely expensive to live in so I expect it’s going to be expense to locate an office in. So if you have little money, I can’t imagine it would be possible.

I don’t really need to have an office.
I am picturing working out of my house/apartment. All I need is a computer and a phone to do my work, which is electronics design and support. I might be able to do some sales, too.

Well, what’s your budget for a house/apartment? I can’t imagine that will be cheap either. You might be better off living and working outside London. (But what business are you in that you feel it would be useful to have a UK office?)

To move to the UK in order to start a business you generally need to demonstrate you have $370,000 to throw at it. The absolute minimum funds you have to prove in any category of entrepreneur migrant is 50,000 GBP which is like $75k. You say you’re broke, so, no.

Dude, to me it sounds like it’s not going to happen unless your life changes drastically.

Well, I’m not broke…
The company I work for doesn’t have a lot of money, though.

I could probably do the $370,000 thing, but I guess I’d have to find out If I can just leave the money in a bank account, or if it needs to be spent…


“Office” is a relative term there are buildings that theoretically hold hundreds of “offices” and are home to those business, maybe offering basic office services or phone answering/forwarding. Its just used as the base for admin etc. Starting a business in the UK is very very easy, basically you just start doing what you are going to do and tell the tax office who will send you a tax form at the end of your year. Some business need licensing for eg dentist, doctor, gas engineer but not (i get the impression) as many as in the USA.