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An expat (also known as expatriate) is someone who was born in one country, but moves to another. 

The main reason is generally for work. But it can also be for other reasons, ie. you want to live out your wildest dreams retirement dreams in a foreign country, or just want to move as far away as possible from your siblings (we’re not judging😅).

How does tax work for expats?

As a result of relocating, an expat might be liable for tax in both their home country and in the one they’re currently residing in. 🫣

If you’re an expat in the UK, HMRC will treat you as a UK tax resident if you meet one of the two conditions:

  • You’re physically in the UK for at least 183 days in a tax year
  • Your only home is in the UK, and you spent at least 30 days there in this tax year

Now, two things can happen here:

  • If HMRC says you’re a UK tax resident, you’ll pay UK tax on your income from all over the world, not just from the UK
  • If you’re a non-resident, you’ll only pay UK tax on your UK income but not on any foreign income

Unfortunately, being taxed twice on the same earnings is very much a possibility. 😅

But luckily, the UK has a double-taxation agreement with many countries to prevent this from happening. And if the country you’ve moved to doesn’t have a double-taxation agreement with the UK… well, it’s never too late to book a flight back home.

So, what’s the difference between an expat and immigrant?

Both expats and immigrants move from their home country to reside in another country.

There’s no agreed difference between the two terms, but some suggest that immigrants move to another country with one intention – to stay. 

Whereas on the other hand, it’s not uncommon for expats to reside in one country then either move to another or simply return to their home country.

So if you’ve moved from your home country to reside in another country, you have the option to call yourself an expat or an immigrant – it’s whatever you prefer, really!

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