A guide to
Travelling Abroad With Debt

Guide Chapters


What Happens If I Move and Leave My Debts Behind


Moving and
Having Debt


Can I Go Bankrupt in The UK if I Move Abroad?


Can My Creditors Chase Me for Payment in Other Countries?


What if I Move Back to The UK & Leave Debts in Other Countries?

Chapter 2

Moving and Having Debt

As we mentioned, not only do we like to travel and move about the world, but the odds of having everything in order, perfectly lined up to do so is rare.

If you own a property and a job offer comes up halfway across town, you can commute to work.

If you own a property and a job offer becomes available abroad, or halfway across the globe, this will hinder commuting to work.

Your options at this point, if it is such as large move of such distance, even if it is still in the UK with property are the following:

  • Sell the property
  • Let the property out
  • Board the property up and keep it until you possibly return
House for Rent

One of the major concerns in any of these options and will dictate a lot as to what you can and will do is if you have financing on the property; is there an outstanding mortgage on the house.

If there is a mortgage or open financing on the account, how is this bill or debt going to be paid whilst you are living elsewhere?

Maybe you are getting a huge pay rise and can afford to pay the loan on this property and afford a place to live where you are moving to. This would be ideal.

Perhaps you can sell the property and clear the balance of the loan. Another ideal situation.

You could consider letting the property out and using the rent to pay the mortgage. This is an option, but one that needs to be thought through. Being a landlord from hundreds, if not thousands of miles away, can prove tricky.

If you have an estate agent or letting company handle the details of this for you, showing and letting the property, collecting the rent, etc, this is a good option, but one that will also have an expense associated with it.

And this is just if you own a property and move.

There can be open personal loans you may have, balances on credit cards, finance on a car, an overdraft, etc. All these bills and accounts will still require being paid even if you no longer live in the city or town you now reside in, or even if you move outside the country.

And let us not forget the issue of currency exchange rates.

Should you move outside the UK and are paid your wages in a different currency than GBP, how will you pay the bills and accounts you have back home in the UK?

Your issues become:

  • Getting the correct currency (GBP) to the creditors I owe
  • What are the exchange rates (will I take a loss on exchanging money, or be better off)

Unfortunately for those in many other countries, our pound is sound and strong, even today. This little bit of unfortunate money exchanging, then becomes yours as unless you are paid a larger amount in the new job and new country you are now residing in, you can take a loss due to the exchange rates.

If you owe a mortgage payment of £500 a month, you will need to earn and send 575 euros to pay this payment, or if in America $643.

While many of us may take a job in another country to earn more money, many of us will take a job outside the UK just to be outside the UK and to travel and see the world. We may not think all the currency exchange rates and how to do all this through prior to jumping on that big silver bird and leaving the UK.

This little guide is not to look at things in an ideal world, as in an ideal world if we were to move abroad or across the world, we would either not have any debts left behind in the UK, or we would be earning so much money that paying our bills back home in the UK is not an issue.

No, we are going to look at the “dark side” of moving and leaving debts behind.


Can I move and leave my debts behind?



Yes… and no.

There is a saying, "you can run, but you cannot hide".

The fact is you can move if you wish and leave anything behind, including debt(s), but this does not mean you don’t owe them or that they just go away.

Moving Locally

In this example, someone may just move across town, or to another city nearby, or to another part of the country (UK), but they stay living within borders of the UK.

Obviously this is where some legal aspects of debt matters come into play, such as in collecting an account that has been defaulted on, or is in arrears.

We are not here to provide legal advice, but the facts are the facts.

If you move within the UK and have debts owed in the UK, then you can probably expect your creditors to chase you for payment.

You owe them money, and they would like to be paid.

And just as obvious as being chased for payment, you have many options open to you as to how to deal with these delinquent accounts.

As you are still within the borders of the UK, any and all collection and banking and lending laws still apply; as do all your debt management options.

So if you find yourself in debt, and an opportunity to move, locally or within the UK becomes open to you, then yes, you can move, and yes, you do have options with the accounts you may have been struggling with.

It is only when you move outside the UK can matters get more complicated.

Moving Abroad or Elsewhere in the World

Moving Abroad or Elsewhere in the World

One thing needs to be stated, and clearly stated from the outset of our little discussion of moving abroad and leaving open accounts, paid or unpaid, in default or arrears in the UK:

For just debts alone, there are no travel restrictions to leave the UK.

So to answer the question, Can I move outside the UK to (insert country here) and leave my debts behind in the UK?

The answer is: Yes

However, once again this does not mean that you do not owe the debt(s) and that your creditors and those you owe may not try to locate you and attempt to collect the accounts in question.

If there are no restrictions on travel, then it would appear that obtaining Visas to live in other countries may not be an issue as well.

That is not a question that can be entirely ruled out.

Just as here in the UK we have rules and a process to allow people to come and work and live here, so do other countries. And the processes of Immigration and obtaining a Visa to live in another country can change here as it may change in other countries.

Currently many countries do not have any financial requirements, outside of possibly having a job, or the means to support oneself as a condition of stay in that country.

The Immigration process may and very well does look at criminal records and issues, but being in debt and owing money, in most countries, is not a crime. So this is not looked at and not an issue in apply for, and receiving a Visa to travel and live in most countries, including the UK.

However, your creditors may still chase you for payment, but what authority do they have to do so in other countries?

Before we address that question, let’s step back and look at the move abroad or further afield in the world.

How do you fund the trip? How are you going to afford to move outside the UK if you owe money here in the UK?

A simple question, and one that may have a simple answer.

People do move abroad on a regular basis, and do leave debts behind. They may save for the move by not paying their bills, they may use what credit they have to fund the move, their new employer (should they have one) may fund the cost of a Visa and the move, there can be a multitude of means to pay the cost of such a move.

A person can even leave the UK with no debt, and take their credit cards and credit lines with them and use them abroad and run up debt at that point.

Someone may leave a property behind, with a tenant paying rent to cover the mortgage payment.

They may leave the UK not in debt, but then after a period of time find themselves in debt.

Perhaps the tenant doesn’t pay the rent, being a landlord who lives far away does raise its own set of issues.

The property owner cannot afford to pay their living expenses in the country they now reside, and their mortgage back home, so the property may go to repossession.

If there were no defaulted accounts when they moved abroad, there can be in time.

So we know there are no travel restrictions with debts to move around the world, but what to do if we should find ourselves in debt and living outside the UK?

Staying In Contact

One thing that is important in any relationship, be it between you and a partner/spouse, family member, and the relationship between a borrower and a lender is communication.

If you miss a payment, default on a loan, or cannot repay an account, staying in contact with your creditors is the first thing to do.

The reason for this is two-fold:

  • To keep them aware of your situation
  • To keep you aware of what your creditors may be doing
  • Communication keeps you in the loop of the collection process.
Staying in contact

Communication keeps you in the loop of the collection process.

And as we will see, just being outside the UK does not stop the collection process. There is a variation on a saying, "the wheels grind slowly, but they do grind". Once again pointing at you may move away, but the processes do not stop just because you have moved away.

So staying in contact with those you owe while you are outside the UK is important, and easy enough to do.v Between VOIP phones, mobiles allowing calls to and from other countries, and email and web based messenger programmes, there is no reason to not be in contact.