Whatever the reason - whether it be to fund university study, buy property, repatriate salary or profits from the sale of property, or pay for imports - it is very easy to transfer money from the US to UK . Money transfer companies must be registered on a state by state basis, but there are otherwise no restrictions on sending money to the UK, and plenty of money transfer providers.
The UK and US visa systems can be complex. Most people moving to the either country to work, however, will be sponsored by a company which will handle the process. If you are planning on moving to the UK to work and so are considering sending funds to finance this - you will need to obtain a valid visa. The UK has a points-based visa system. When moving the UK, the most common type of work visa is a Tier 2, which covers, among other things, inter-company transfers, and people with new job offers. the latter is General visa, for which there is a quota, currently of 20,700 (unless the job pays over £150,000). The Tier 1 visa is aimed at a small number of 'high-value migrants' such as entrepreneurs and investors; entrepreneurs are required to have access to at least £50,000 in capital, while investors are required to have at least £1,000,000 of disposable funds. (Income and proceeds from such investments can be sent back to the US).
If moving to the US, the most common visas are non-immigrant visas where you are either sponsored by your UK company (L class visas) or moving over to work for a US firm sponsoring you (H class visas). Students obtain F visas and there are also E class visas available for investment and entrepreneurial activities. You will need to have obtained your visa before you can start work in the US. Further details are on the USCIS website.
To open a bank account in the UK in order to receive funds, you will need proof of income and employment, evidence of a local address, and your passport. The introduction of the US’s Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) in mid 2014 has made opening a foreign bank account harder, however, as the regulatory demands have become a big deterrent for the banks. FATCA requires that foreign banks, investment funds and insurers - or in some cases such as the UK, the national revenue agency - hand over to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) information about accounts with over US$50,000 held by Americans.
If moving to or establishing a business in the US, opening a bank account there, even from the UK, from which to send funds back to the UK is a little more straightforward. It may be easier, especially if you will be in a major city, to open an account with one of the larger UK banks such as HSBC or Santander, which took over Sovereign Bank in the US. Alternatively, you could open an account in the UK with one of a handful of US banks such as Citigroup and Chase which have some branches in the UK, albeit mostly in London. Once you have this account setup, it will provide you with a easy to use base for any funds earned in the UK as well as any overseas money transfers that you make from the US into the UK.
Unlike some US banks, UK banks do not charge for the majority of small transactions, such as issuing cheques and drawing money from ATMs. In the UK, most credit cards come with a chip and PIN (remember your PIN!) as opposed to many US credit cards that still require a signature when making a purchase.
The UK tax year runs from April 6 to April 5 of the following year, whereas the US tax year is a calendar year. This difference will have implications for your tax planning. There is a double tax treaty between the UK and the US but this does not mean you will be able to receive allowances on all taxable items. This is a very important area to plan in advance of moving over to the UK from the US, especially if you are considering buying a property or investing and will be transferring a significant amount of dollars to pounds and watching the dollar exchange rate.
The UK has become an increasingly attractive place for foreigners to invest in property. For some overseas purchasers this could be borne out of a desire to acquire residential property for their own and/or family’s occupation, or for investment. Commercial property is also seen as an attractive investment. There are few restrictions on foreign nationals or overseas companies buying or renting property, with the main considerations being related to tax. As such, it is recommended that you engage specialist tax advice in advance of your property search, whether private residential or commercial investment, particularly if you or a company is non-resident in the UK.
The UK is the favourite destination for American studying overseas, with the total number enrolled at all levels having risen 13% since the 2008/09 academic year to 16,233 in 2012/13. American students make up 5% of all non-EU student in the UK. Postgraduate study is more popular than undergrad, but the latter is growing faster. Shorter degrees - typically three years for undergrad and one year for a Masters - means that they not only take less time but also cost less. According to a 2013 study by HSBC, the average annual cost per year of study in the UK for international students is just over US$30,000, of which two thirds is fees and the rest living costs; this compares favourably with the average total cost in the US of US$38,516 per year, and federal loans and most US scholarships can be used to fund study in the UK. Another attraction of study in the UK is both the ease of visiting continental Europe, with lots of cheap flights available. The top five UK universities hosting US students are St Andrew’s, Oxford, Edinburgh, University College London, and Westminster.
A Tier 4 (General) student visa is required to study in the UK. Once you have a place at an accredited institution, the process of applying is simple, but you have to be able to demonstrate that you have sufficient savings to fund your course and cost of living. Part-time employment of up to 20 hours a week in term-time is allowed on a Tier 4 (although you can work full-time in a non-permanent role during term breaks, and pursue a sandwich course). When your course finishes, you can work full time hours for up to four months. You can also bring dependents on a Tier 4, but must be able to demonstrate sufficient savings to cover them too.
The UK is a major source of imports to the US, with the US$52.5bn worth of goods and services flowing westwards in 2013 accounting for 2.3% of total imports into the US. The UK and US have their own bilateral trade relations, but also work through the EU. When importing goods from the UK, you will need to declare your imports to customs and pay VAT and duty on them. Some goods may require an import licence. Given the volume of trade between the two countries, there are many options available when financing imports, transferring money to the UK, and organising shipping.
The website and the information it provides on this site is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute an offer or solicitation to sell shares or securities. None of the information presented is intended to form the basis for any investment decision, and no specific recommendations are intended. Accordingly, this website and its contents do not constitute investment advice or counsel or solicitation for investment in any security. This website and its contents should not form the basis of, or be relied on in any connection with, any contract or commitment whatsoever. FX Compared Ltd expressly disclaims any and all responsibility for any direct or consequential loss or damage of any kind whatsoever arising directly or indirectly from: reliance on any information contained in the website, (ii) any error, omission or inaccuracy in any such information or (iii) any action resulting therefrom.