You and your family may be looking forward to moving abroad but do take time to prepare

Moving abroad is a big step. Apart from considerations concerning family and friends, there are issues around pensions, tax and healthcare costs that you will need to be aware of. Here’s a checklist to make sure you’ve got the essentials covered.

Moving to the EU?

As a UK national, you have the right to live in any European Economic Area (EEA) country. If you intend to move to any other country, you should first visit the British Embassy website of that country for further information.

Tax, benefits and pensions

Before you move, you can:

* get a State Pension forecast

* ask HM Revenue & Customs for information about your tax liability on any income over the UK personal allowance; UK tax payable from abroad can vary depending on where you decide to live

* if you are retiring abroad seek independent tax advice about the benefits of offshore banking, as this could reduce your tax liability depending on where you are living

* inform your social security office, HM Revenue & Customs Charity, Assets and Residence (Residency), and the Department for Work and Pensions when you move and provide your contact details abroad

When you've done the shopping, it's time for a pichet de vin

Profiling your State Pension

Most people get some State Pension, but the amount they get varies. In 2010-11, the maximum basic State Pension for a single person is £97.65 a week. You may also get an additional State Pension. Your State Pension is based on your National Insurance record. People generally get a bit more State Pension for each year they:

* pay National Insurance contributions

* are credited with National Insurance contributions by the Government, or treated as having paid contributions

Each of these years is called a qualifying year. The number of qualifying years you need to get a full basic State Pension depends on when you were born. If you are a man born after 5 April 1945 or a woman born after 5 April 1950, you need 30 qualifying years to get a maximum basic State Pension.

The State Pension profiler will give you an idea of:

* how many qualifying years you have built up to date

* the number of years before you reach State Pension age

* whether you may be affected by changes to the State Pension

* whether you might need to take any action to boost your State Pension

If you are a man born before 6 April 1945 or a woman born before 6 April 1950 you will already have reached your State Pension age. The State Pension profiler is less relevant for you but may give you some important information about your State Pension.

Health

Here are some of the things you could consider doing to protect your healthcare needs:

* find out about welfare rights abroad; some UK benefits are not payable outside the UK, others apply only in the EU or in countries which have agreements with the UK

* find out about healthcare costs in the country you want to move to

* you are strongly advised to take out health insurance if appropriate to cover private medical and dental treatment, as well as medical repatriation to the UK

* inform your and your family’s doctor, dentist and other relevant practitioners

Benefits for UK citizens living abroad:

If you move or travel overseas, you will not automatically receive benefits from the UK. Entitlement will depend on whether your stay abroad is temporary or permanent. You can continue to claim some benefits while you are abroad

Claiming when abroad

You must let your social security office (or Jobcentre or Jobcentre Plus office) know that you are going abroad. If it is only a temporary move, then give the date you are planning to come back.

Your entitlement to benefits abroad also depends on which country you are going to. If you are going to a European Economic Area (EEA) country or one with a social security agreement with the UK, you might get extra UK-based benefits. Or you might be able to get a benefit which that country provides.

For most benefits provided by other countries under these arrangements, you will have to have paid National Insurance (NI) contributions in the UK. Form E301 is a record of UK National Insurance contributions which may help a claim for unemployment benefit in another EU country.

Your home and family

There's a great deal of good advice on-line about setting up home in another country

Things to remember:

* if you decide to keep your property in the UK and it is going to be empty or rented out, you will need to let your mortgage lender, insurance providers know

* look at how the property can be kept secure while you are away

* contact your local council – their Council Tax department and electoral registration unit will need to know when you are leaving and a forwarding address

* notify your utility companies that you are moving in order to get your final bills and provide a forwarding address for them to send you any outstanding payments or refunds

* tell your bank, building society or any financial institution that you have a policy or agreement with that you are moving abroad

* have your mail forwarded by asking for a re-direction form at a Post Office – allow enough time for this to be set up as it can take a few weeks

* if you have children, notify the school and the local education authority of the date when you will be withdrawing them from school

For much more information and useful links, go on-line at www.direct.gov.uk and click on the Britons Living Abroad section