You want to move abroad – and we’re fully behind you.

We’ve taken the most popular destinations for British nationals, and dived into the current climate’s various regulations until we found the devils in the details.

COVID-19 has stopped many international moves from going through – but that doesn’t necessarily have to include yours.

And if you’re keen to get going, you can fill in this form to receive up to six free shipping quotes, and see how much it would cost to make the move of a lifetime.

What’s on this page?

01 | US
02 | Canada
03 | Australia
04 | Germany
05 | Sweden
06 | United Arab Emirates
07 | Japan
08 | South Africa
09 | Summary

Can you move to the US?

the statue of liberty in new york

The Statue of Liberty has welcomed immigrants for more than a century

Yes, you can move to the US – but it’s extremely tricky.

Firstly, you can’t enter (or even transit) the US if you’ve been in any of the following countries in the past 14 days:

  • UK
  • Ireland
  • Brazil
  • China
  • Iran
  • The 26 countries in the Schengen Area

That means you’ll have to find another nation which will let you in, stay there for at least two weeks, and then move to the US from there. Not ideal.

The only people exempt from this rule are US citizens and permanent residents, certain family members of US nationals, and a couple of other categories of people like UN staff and diplomats.

You’ll have to already possess a valid green card, too. New green cards won’t be issued until at least December 31st 2020, and the same is true for renewals.

And lastly, it’s not a legal restriction, but the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is advising against all but essential international travel.

There is a list of countries which are exempted from this guidance – but the US isn’t on it.

Can you move to the US? Yes, with difficulty. Should you? That’s up to you, but bear in mind that the US has been one of the worst countries at handling the pandemic.

It has endured 7.5 million cases of COVID-19, and more than 210,000 deaths – with no end in sight.

Can you move to Canada?

Moraine Lake, Banff, Canada

Moraine Lake provides one of Canada’s countless stunning views

You almost certainly can’t move to Canada.

Authorities have banned British nationals from entering Canada, along with practically all other foreign nationals.

To move to Canada, you must be one of the following:

If you are cleared to move to Canada, you’ll need to undergo a health test at the border. If you’re a foreign national and you have COVID-19 symptoms, you won’t be allowed into the country.

Once you’ve taken this test, you’ll be asked to present a 14-day quarantine plan explaining:

  • Where you’ll stay
  • How you’ll travel there
  • How you’ll get groceries
  • How you’ll access medical care and other essential services

Breaking this quarantine is punishable with a fine of up to C$750,000 (£436,000), six months in prison, and being removed from the country and banned for a year.

The good news is that Canada is one of the countries exempted from the UK government’s advice against non-essential international travel, which reflects the way it’s dealt with COVID-19 so far.

The country’s rate of 25.8 deaths per 100,000 people is far from the lowest, but it’s well under half the rate of the UK or the US, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Indeed, Canada has suffered 400% fewer deaths from COVID-19 than the UK, despite having just 56% of the UK’s population.

Can you move to Australia?

a view of Sydney in Australia

Australia has dealt relatively well with the pandemic

You probably won’t be able to move to Australia.

The Antipodean nation is letting in:

  • Citizens
  • Permanent residents
  • Immediate family members of citizens or permanent residents
  • New Zealand citizens who usually reside in Australia
  • Anyone with a Business Innovation and Investment visa
  • Diplomats accredited to Australia

If you’re not on this list, you can apply for an exemption, but there is currently a long wait for an answer. 

Make sure you read these Australian government guidelines before applying, to see if you might qualify, and send off your application at least two weeks before travelling. Be prepared for it to take months, with no guarantee of success.

If you manage to gain entry, you’ll need to take a health test when you land, before quarantining for 14 days at a designated facility such as a hotel.

The local state or territory government will arrange this for you. Non-compliance is punishable with a fine of thousands of dollars and months in prison, depending on which state you’re in.

If you’re worried about catching COVID-19 while you’re there, Australia is thankfully exempt from the UK government’s advice against non-essential international travel – except the state of Victoria.

Can you move to Germany?

Town square in Frankfurt, Germany

Moving to European countries like Germany is easier

Yes! Germany is allowing British nationals in, subject to the same entry and immigration rules that were in place before the pandemic.

That’ll be a relief to anyone thinking of moving to Germany, but wait before you skip off in delight – there are some important regulations to follow.

If you’ve been in any of the following ‘risk areas’ in the two weeks before you arrive in Germany, you’ll need to notify the local German health authority, go straight to your accommodation, quarantine for 14 days, and take a COVID-19 test.

Risk areas:

  • North East England
  • North West England
  • East Midlands
  • West Midlands
  • Yorkshire and the Humber
  • Northern Ireland
  • Wales
  • Scotland

These regions may change, so check the German government’s site to see the current risk areas before you travel.

You may be allowed out of quarantine early if:

  • You have proof of a negative test taken in a European Union member state less than 48 hours before your arrival in Germany
  • You produce a negative test result immediately after you arrive, at one of the testing facilities at airports and other major transport hubs
  • You produce a negative test result after travelling to your accommodation. The test is free if you take it within 72 hours of arriving in Germany

A second negative test result may be required for you to leave quarantine early, depending on which state you’re staying in. 

Make sure to check your local authority’s rules, especially as a prison sentence and/or large fine may be heading your way if you break quarantine.

Apart from these regulations, you’re free to move. Germany is also exempt from the UK’s warning against non-essential international travel, so both countries think it’s fine for you to complete your move nach Deutschland.

Can you move to Sweden?

canal in Gothenburg, Sweden

A canal in Gothenburg, complete with a statue of Prometheus

You can move to Sweden, with no strings attached.

Of all the countries in this article, Sweden is the most welcoming to British nationals (and other EU citizens) at the moment, with no restrictions or regulations related to COVID-19.

We’re not passing a judgment either way here; it’s simply a fact. Whether it’s a good fact or not during a global pandemic is up to you.

There are fewer direct flights between the UK and Sweden at the moment, but once you get onto one, you’ll be set.

All you’ll need to do once you arrive is prove you’re employed, self-employed, a student, or simply have the means to support yourself, and then complete a couple of simple bureaucratic steps.

Just notify the Swedish Tax Agency after you arrive in the country that you intend to stay for longer than a year, and you’ll be able to join the Sweden Population Register.

This will allow you to get a personal identity number, which will give you the legal right to reside in Sweden.

The UK has also included Sweden on the list of countries exempted from its guidance advising against non-essential international travel, so feel free to move there whenever you’re ready.

Can you move to the United Arab Emirates?

Dubai skyline, United Arab Emirates

Dubai is gorgeous, but entry is complicated 

Yes, you can move to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) – but there are complicating factors.

In the 96 hours before you depart for the UAE, all citizens, residents, and tourists must take a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) swab test in the country they’re travelling from, and receive a negative result.

Other tests, including antibody tests, will not be accepted.

If you’re moving to the UAE but are not yet a resident, Dubai International Airport will issue you with a free visitor/tourist visa when you arrive, which will last 30 days.

We say Dubai specifically because you can currently only fly to Dubai. The Abu Dhabi International Airport isn’t issuing these visas to British nationals.

If your accommodation is in Abu Dhabi, you can travel there by road, but you must prove that you don’t have COVID-19.

You can do this by either presenting officials at the checkpoint with a negative PCR test you’ve taken in the previous 48 hours, or by taking a PCR test at Abu Dhabi’s entry point.

You must book the appointment in advance. You can find the testing centre off the last exit on Sheikh Zayed Road before the Ghantoot checkpoint – and make sure you have AED 50 (£11) on hand to pay for the test.

After that, you’ll be instructed to register with Abu Dhabi’s quarantine system. You then have to quarantine until you’ve been in the UAE for a total of 14 days.

You’ll also be given an electronic band by the authorities, who will use it to track your movements and make sure you’re not breaking quarantine.

You must get a second PCR test on the 12th day of your stay in the UAE. If it’s negative, you can remove the electronic band and leave quarantine on the 14th day.

Check the UAE government’s site or state government sites like those of Abu Dhabi and Dubai for the latest information before you travel.

The UAE is absent from the government’s list of countries exempt from its guidelines, so you should only make your move if it’s essential.

Can you move to Japan?

mount Fuji and Chureito pagoda, Japan

Japan in the spring is incomparable

You may be able to move to Japan.

As of October, the country is relaxing entry rules put in place in April, which denied entry to anyone who had been in one of these 158 other countries and regions – including the UK – in the 14 days before landing in Japan.

If you’re moving to study, work, or join family, you can now apply for a visa. The number of people entering the country is limited right now – particularly for the 159 territories mentioned above – but anyone who’s moving to Japan is given priority.

But of course, there are rules to follow even if you get a visa.

If you’re travelling from the UK, you’ll need to provide written evidence of a negative COVID-19 test performed within 72 hours of your flight departure time.

You’ll also need to bring a written assurance from your company or sponsor that you can be trusted to follow Japan’s quarantine regulations. 

Before you get off the plane in Japan, you’ll also have to complete a health questionnaire which includes your contact details.

You must then take a COVID-19 screening test at the airport, wait there until you’ve received your results, and then avoid public transport while travelling to your accommodation, where you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days.

Before you travel, check the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs site, contact your nearest Japanese Embassy, or call Japan’s Visa Information Hotline on 0800 041 8412.

Japan is one of the countries exempt from UK guidelines surrounding international travel, so feel free to move even if it’s not essential.

Can you move to South Africa?

cape town, south africa

South Africa has re-opened, to some degree

Yes, you can move to South Africa – though in a limited way, and provided you follow strict regulations.

After entering a national lockdown on March 27th, South Africa started easing its restrictions at the end of September, and has once again started processing visa applications.

South Africa has classified the UK as a high-risk country, which means you can’t visit for tourism or leisure – but you can apply for a temporary residence visa on the usual grounds.

Other visa applications are not currently being processed.

VFS Global, the private company which manages visa services for the government, has stated on its site that “the resumption of other immigration related applications will be phased in over a period of time.”

If you are allowed to move to South Africa, you’ll need a paper copy of a negative COVID-19 test taken within the 72 hours before your time of departure. The UK government recommends taking multiple copies, just in case.

If you don’t have a negative test with you, you’ll be obliged to quarantine at a government-designated facility – at your own cost.

You must also have proof of where you’ll be staying, along with travel insurance that covers a COVID-19 test and quarantine costs, as you may need to quarantine if you show symptoms of the virus while in South Africa.

As with many other countries, you’ll be screened after touching down, and have to fill in a health declaration form that asks for details like your address and contact information.

South Africa is not on the government’s list of exempt countries, so please only make your move if it’s essential.

Summary

There are multiple countries you can move to now with relative ease, especially in Europe, and others which are open to you – if you jump through enough necessary hoops.

Please keep in regular contact with your local embassy for the country you’re planning on moving to, and stay up to date with pandemic-related information about the specific region you’ll be living in.

When you’re ready to move, fill in this form to receive up to six free shipping quotes, and see how much it would cost to make your dream move a reality.