What Happens To Credit History When Moving Abroad

Lady moving abroad

If you’re planning to move abroad or are new to the UK, you’ll likely be dealing with all the administrative headaches that come with it. These can include sorting out a place to live, a new job, visa requirements and other documentation. One crucial concern that you may have is whether you will be able to get access to credit in your new country.

Using credit isn’t just about getting a loan, it can affect your ability to access many different types of financial products. Credit cards, bank accounts and direct debits can give you access to essential products and services like housing, utilities and transport. They will usually all depend on a credit check.

Your credit history will determine if lenders and service providers are willing to give you credit. But, what happens to your credit history when you move abroad?

Credit history when moving abroad

Your credit report is compiled by a credit reference agency like Equifax, that will gather information on you and your finances. This information can then be used by lenders as part of their decision on whether to give you credit. They will only collect information on your activity in a particular country, so if you move to another one, you’ll essentially be starting from scratch.

This is partly due to having different data protection laws in different countries, and also the fact that agencies will hold information that relates to addresses in that particular country.

Does debt follow you abroad?

Although your credit history may not follow you when you move abroad, any debts you owe will remain active. It will be difficult for lenders to take legal action against you if you’re living in a new country, but it is not impossible for them to try and recoup the debt.

If you plan on moving back to the original country, those debts will still apply and might also lead to County Court Judgements (CCJs) while you were away. If you have assets in your country of origin, a debt collector may try to secure a debt against them on behalf of the lender.

The chances of the debt following you abroad will also depend on who you owe money to. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) will have greater powers to reclaim unpaid debts than other institutions.

Rebuilding your credit history

If you’re moving abroad temporarily, for example, for a couple of years, it might not necessarily be the case that you need to close all of your accounts. If you can keep them open and active, they’ll continue to be part of your credit history. This includes bank accounts and credit cards. If you are using a credit card abroad, however, you should notify the card issuer to avoid any problems with suspected identity theft.

If you have an account with a multinational company, this may make it easier to open a new one when you move abroad. So, it’s worth looking into what your current bank offers in terms of international services.

If you do have to start with a blank slate, then you’ll need to follow the same steps as someone who has never had a credit history. You can learn more in this article about getting credit with no credit history.

If you’re interested in checking details of your credit history, you can get online access to your Equifax Credit Report & Score, which is free for 30 days and £14.95 monthly following that.

This article was updated on 23rd March 2022; all information was correct at the time of writing.

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