Moving to Dubai

Starting a new life abroad is a dream scenario that poses a wealth opportunity and endless possibilities. For many, the destination of choice for that restart is the beautiful country of Dubai.

Dubai is one of the most popular cities in the United Arab Emirates. So much so that Dubai has one of the largest percentages of expats in the entire world.

In fact, an incredible 80% of Dubai’s population is comprised of expats, which is great news for Brits looking to relocate.

However, moving to Dubai is no small feat. The application process can be a laborious task, while there are numerous cultural differences to keep in mind as well.

To keep the culture shock to a minimum, we’ve created this guide to help make your move to the “City of Gold” a truly priceless experience.

Dubai Visas

Once you’ve made up your mind and your heart is set on moving to Dubai, the next step is identifying the relevant visa to apply for.

As a rule of thumb, there are four primary visas that apply for expats looking to relocate to Dubai. These are:

Dubai Employment Visa

Arranged by your employer, this visa allows you to enter the country for work purposes once the appropriate work permit has been issued.

Dubai Dependant Visa

Designed for those whose partners or parents are already residing in Dubai, this visa permits entry to spouses and offspring.

- Dubai Student Visa

For those looking to enrol in Dubai university, a student visa is required to allow you to legally study in Dubai.

Dubai Investor Visa

As the name suggests, this visa is exclusively for expats looking to invest in companies based within the United Arab Emirates.

 

In order to complete the application process, there is also an extensive amount of paperwork and admin required, including the provision of passport, educational documentation and subsequent attestation of certification.

In addition to the above, the visa process also requires a compulsory health check. Once this has been completed, you will be issued with an Emirates ID Card which confirms your eligibility to work and remain in the UAE.

Money in Dubai

The designated currency of Dubai is the AED, which stands for Arab Emirates Dirham. This is also commonly abbreviated to Dhs or DH. 

Much like British currency, AED banks notes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20 and 50; however, unlike British currency, they also extend to 100, 200, 500 and 1000.

As of writing, £1 sterling is the equivalent of approximately 4.75 United Arab Emirates Dirham, meaning a single AED equates to roughly 21p.

Good to Know

While the population does have a large contingent of foreign immigrants, it’s important to remember that Islam is still the national religion and the codes and conventions of that religion are rigidly enforced.

As such, there are notable restrictions on various aspects of daily life that are deemed perfectly acceptable in the UK. A notable example of this is clothing and what is deemed as acceptable clothing in the UK may not be viewed as the same in Dubai.

While the dress code in Dubai is quite liberal in comparison to other UAE destinations, outlandish attire may land you in trouble. These restrictions are particularly evident when it comes to female clothing, with significant exposed skin a risky fashion choice.

Alcohol in Dubai 

Drinking laws are considerably different in the UAE, with stringent alcohol restrictions in place. While the drinking age is 21, you can only drink in approved venues which hold a relevant alcohol license (typically hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs).

For tourists, it’s an offence to buy alcohol from an off-license; however, a 30-day tourist pass can be obtained by completing a form and signing a declaration that states you will follow UAE alcohol rules and regulation.

For residents, in order to purchase alcohol, you must hold a UAE alcohol license. Alcohol licenses are available to non-Muslim UAE residents of 21+ and allow the cardholder to buy, consume and store alcohol at home.

Alcohol licenses can be obtained online or in-person at select alcohol retailers across Dubai. These cost AED 270 (roughly £57) and take approximately three weeks to process after application. The license itself is valid for a year and needs to be renewed annually for continued use.

Crucially, it’s illegal to drink and/or be under the influence of alcohol in a public place and British nationals have been arrested and charged in the past for such a misdemeanour. That includes the beach too.

Driving in Dubai

While Dubai does have its own metro connecting most parts of the city – which will be music to the ears of many relocating Londoners – driving in Dubai will be a goal on the list of many would-be expats.

Luckily, for those already in possession of an existing UK driving license, driving in Dubai is relatively easy to arrange. UK drivers are able to convert their UK driving licenses to a UAE driving license.

To do so, all you’ll need to do is visit Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authorities. Once there, you’ll be asked to submit a series of documents (including original license, Emirates ID, etc.) and pay a set fee to complete the transfer.

Once mobile, Dubai residents will also find that fuel costs are considerably cheaper than they are domestically in the UK and it’s not unusual for a litre of petrol to cost around 40p in UK money.

Transferring Money to Dubai

During the moving process, you are probably going to need to send money to Dubai to pay for goods and services; including living necessities such as accommodation, various license fees, etc.

At Universal Partners FX, we can help you to transfer money to Dubai quickly, easily and hassle-free. Best of all, our swift online process includes no hidden fees or nasty surprises along the way.

If you’re looking to send money to Dubai, all you need to do is follow our simple three-step process:

  1. Register for free
  2. Secure your exchange rate
  3. We make your payment

Our services are available 24/7 and regulated by the FCA. We’re even backed by a 5-star rating from independent review site Feefo, giving you further peace of mind from those in the know.

For more information on how to send money to Dubai quickly, safely and securely, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 020 7190 9559 top speak with one of our experts or get in touch online by clicking the button below.

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Buying property in Canada is very attractive to expats, considering the affordability of Canadian housing prices, the good healthcare system as well as the country’s natural beauty and safety.

Who can buy property?

Everyone can buy property in Canada, and foreigners or non-residents who stay less than six months a year in Canada can do so without the need to apply for residency. However, if you buy property and plan to stay longer, then you have to immigrate and apply for permanent residency. If you don’t plan on living in the country, then you can rent your property and pay a 25 per cent withholding tax on your rental income which will be deducted from the monthly rent.

Fees and Taxes

In general, though, everyone, whether a Canadian or foreigner, must pay the same fees and taxes when buying real estate. However, different rules might apply when it comes selling your property or buying property in certain jurisdictions where higher property or land transfer taxes exists. Taking a mortgage will also need to be at a Canadian bank and will require you to pay a 35 percent of the purchase price as a down payment compared to the five or 10 per cent paid by Canadian residents.

Housing market

The housing market in Canada is ideal for buying property as prices have dropped, making even larger and more expensive cities such as Vancouver and Toronto appealing. From the East Coast, to Central Canada and the West Coast, expats have many choices, including affordable cities such as Calgary, Montreal, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Ottawa.

From detached homes, attached townhouses or apartments, there is a wide range of choices so it is wise to start searching online to get an idea of what you prefer and what properties are available.

 According to the Chief Economist of the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), Gregory Klump, “It’s a full-blown buyer’s market or on the cusp of one in a number of housing markets across the Prairies and in Newfoundland. Homebuyers there have the upper hand in purchase negotiations and the mortgage stress-test has contributed to that by reducing the number of competing buyers who can qualify for mortgage financing while market conditions are in their favour.” Following statistics released this month by CREA, home price trends have stabilised in Calgary and Saskatoon, but home prices in Edmonton and Regina dropped. On the other hand, in Greater Vancouver (GVA) and the Fraser Valley, prices have started to slowly recover. Price growth also continues to recover in the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

In a Huffington Post article, originally published in Livabl, it is argued that in the new year home sales in Canada are expected to rise, which is good news for those buying property in the next few years.  After rising in 2016, and falling in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is now forecasting that the market will see a surge. With the release of its 2020 outlook for the national market, CMHC expects sales to continue in Ontario and British Columbia’s major markets due to “disposable income increases for the two provinces that exceed the national average and strong demographic-driven demand for housing.”

Despite the housing market’s decline the last two years, CMHC believes that home prices will soon rise, especially in Ontario and Quebec which are expected to drive growth in 2020, and British Columbia in 2021.

Buying property in Canada: your finances

If you are getting a loan as a non-resident, then you will need to provide a down payment of 35 percent and get a loan at 65 percent of the purchase price. Any mortgage would have to be raised by a Canadian broker or bank, as foreign banks cannot register mortgages in Canada. As is the case generally, you will need the services of a Canadian lawyer or notary so all documents regarding the mortgage and land registration are prepared and submitted. As you are borrowing funds, you will need to organise your finances and consider the overall costs, which includes the purchase price, property transfer tax (one percent of the first 100,000 CAD, and two percent on the balance), bank appraisal fees, inspection fees, insurance costs and closing legal fees.

If you are considering buying property in Canada, you will also need to discuss how to transfer your funds with a currency specialist such as Universal Partners FX. UPFX will offer invaluable help when transferring large amounts of money internationally, especially in a volatile market which can affect the value of your transfers. UPFX’s foreign exchange specialists can navigate the complexities of currency markets and ensure that your funds are transferred without any hidden costs and in then most cost-effective manner. Give them a call today to find out how much they can save you on your international payments.

Moving to Singapore

For many people, moving to Singapore is something they can only dream of. The lifestyle, the quality-of-life, the city, the food. There is so much that makes Singapore the perfect place to pack your bags and leave to; which is why so many people do.

Singapore is an efficient and clean Asian city that possesses much of the charm from the days it was a British colony, whilst at the same time offering a cutting-edge, advanced environment that attracts so many from overseas. Located on the southern tip of Malaysia, it has developed into one of the most important finance and trade centres in the whole of Asia, making it one of the wealthiest places in the world and one of the most popular places for expats to live and work.

An expat destination

As a result of its safe, modern and welcoming culture, expats from all over the world move to Singapore each year in huge numbers to both live and to work. Offering high-quality education, low priced homes and strong levels of security, it has become an ideal place to move permanently and raise families. The standard of living is notoriously high with healthcare facilities being rated second-to-none and low crime rates making it a safe place to explore day and night. With such a huge influx of expats in Singapore, you’ll never be too far from expat groups and clubs for a variety of nationalities, making your transition to life abroad an easy one.

So, if you’re planning on becoming one of the many Singapore expats, here are a few of things you will need to keep in mind before making the move, whether it’s for a short-term or long-term stay.

Getting the right visa   

Before you can jet off to start your expat life in Singapore, you’ll need to apply for a visa and the right visa at that. The length of your stay and the reasons behind your move will ultimately determine which visa type you will need to apply for. One thing you’ll be glad to hear, however, is that visa requirements in Singapore are mostly based on salary, making it a much simpler process than most other countries.

  • Permanent Residence Visa – This visa is for expats who are planning on making the Lion City their long-term home and comes with a number of benefits including lower education fees, ability to purchase public housing and participation in the social security system. Expats can apply for permanent residency in Singapore under the Professionals/Technical Personnel and Skilled Workers Scheme (PTS) pretty much as soon as they acquire their P, Q, or S Work Pass
  • Work Permit Visa – There are different types of work permits for Singapore, which are determined by your purpose and length of stay. Your monthly salary will also determine the type of Employment Pass you’ll need. Generally speaking, Employment Passes apply to those who earn at least 3,300 Singapore Dollars (SGD) per month, and work visas are designed for workers with a lower income.

Expat jobs & career opportunities

If you are highly educated and/or have a strong level of work experience, you will find job opportunities in Singapore far easier to come by. However, the level of competition is fierce as Singaporeans are themselves well-educated. It is recommended that if you are planning on moving to Singapore, either short or long-term and are not transferring with your current employer, you should have a job lined up before you arrive.

Once you have arrived in the country, networking may the best way to land yourself a job, with a significant amount of people finding work through who they know as opposed to through job advertisements. For expats specifically, there is a substantial amount of jobs available in the finance and banking sectors, as well as the electronic, IT and shipping industries.

Finding accommodation

With a visa and job hopefully lined up, the next thing on the Singapore expats list is to find somewhere to stay or live. Your choice of accommodation in Singapore may depend on your citizenship, so as an expat, you will be limited to the type of housing you can buy and the conditions of your stay.

Singapore citizens are able to buy new public housing and get financial help to buy a home, while permanent residents can only buy resold public housing and are not eligible for financial assistance. Before you can become a permanent resident, however, you are classed as a foreigner and will only be able to rent a flat or a room from a local landlord.

  • Renting – Unless you are planning on buying property in Singapore, which, due to a shortage of real estate and land for expats, can be very expensive, short-term rentals might be the best solutions. The average price for temporary rentals in Singapore differs depending on how central the property is, its size, facilities, special services, and more. A one-bedroom apartment in the city centre, for example, could cost 2,645 SGD. Whereas a one-bedroom outside the city centre could cost 1,511 SGD.
  • Buying - Understanding how to buy a property as a non-resident in Singapore can be complicated, but as long as you understand the rules and regulations on non-nationals purchasing properties, the process should be smooth. Research has shown that the most expensive properties in Singapore’s 28 neighbourhoods varied in price from 1.4 million SGD to 110 million SGD. Whereas in the cheapest neighbourhoods, the top prices went from 200,000 SGD to 2.2 million SGD. Read our guide to buying property abroad here to learn how to prevent exchange rates impacting your purchase.

Cost of living

One of the main attractions for expat life in Singapore is the very high standard of living, however, this can come at a price. In Mercer’s 2019 Cost of Living Survey, Singapore was rated as the third most expensive region to live in the world. Expats who are looking for living conditions similar to what they experienced in their home country, may find that the cost of living is very high in comparison. As well as house prices which have already been discussed, alcohol is also taxed at a high rate along with cars. Foods and groceries are reasonably priced with local stalls and shopping malls offering very cheap dining options.

Language

The official language of Singapore is Mandarin Chinese; however, English is the most common language which is used for business and trade. School generally teach students in English but will also expect children to learn Mandarin as well. Other common languages include Tamil, Malay and Cantonese. An additional thing to note is that many Singaporeans speak a language that has come to be known as Singlish; a mixture of English and other languages. This can be difficult for English speakers to understand but on the whole, they seldom experience any real problems communicating with people in Singapore.

Climate

As Singapore lies close to the equator, it enjoys a tropical climate with no sharply divided seasons. It possesses a year-round temperature as well as high humidity and large levels of rainfall. The temperature can range from 22 °C-34 °C, with humidity levels capable of reaching 100% with increases in rainfall. Singapore’s hottest months are June and July, with its monsoon seasons coming in November and December.

Facts every Singapore expat should know

  • In Singapore, you are required to pay tax in order to own a television.
  • There is a restriction on which breeds of dog you can bring into the country.
  • There is a limitation on the number of animals you are allowed to own depending on the type of building you live in.
  • Left-hand drive cars are not allowed in Singapore.
  • You may drive in Singapore using your own license from your native country for up to one year but after this period you will be required to convert to a Singapore license.
  • It is warmer and drier in Eastern Singapore.
  • Public holiday range from the Christian holiday of Good Friday to Vesak Day; a Buddhist holiday.
  • Singapore also has its very own National Day during which it celebrates Singapore’s independence from Malaysia on 9 August 1965.

Sending money to Singapore

Working or living as an expat in Singapore, you’ll most likely want to open a local bank account in order to receive your salary in SGD. However, if you want to send money back to your native country, or even make a payment into your Singaporean bank account from outside the country, you should pay particular attention to your foreign exchange needs.

Making an international payment through your bank to a Singaporean bank account could incur additional transaction fees, which you’ll most likely want to avoid. In addition to the extra cost, you could be given a poor exchange rate, which will impact the amount you’re getting for your money on the other end of your transfer. Fortunately, with Universal Partners FX, you can receive an extremely competitive exchange and zero transaction fees, getting your expat life in Singapore off to the best possible start. Simply sign-up for a free account with us today to get started.

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For more information on how Universal Partners FX can help with your expat life in Singapore, be sure to get in touch with one of our foreign exchange experts today.

Spot Rates

The world of currency exchange can be a foggy landscape to explore for an outsider, filled with alien jargon and complex topics.

One such term that may fit into all three of those categories is the phrase “spot rates”. To help demist this hazy phrase, we’re shining a spotlight on spot rates to clear up any confusion.

What is a Spot Rate?

At its simplest, a spot rate can be defined as a contracted price for a transaction that is taking place immediately (i.e. providing the on-the-spot price there and then).

Spot rates are also sometimes known as “interbank rates” as they are the rate banks and large financial institutions – such as brokerage firms and credit unions – charge each other when trading large sums of foreign currency.

Calculating Spot Rates

Also known as the spot price, the spot rate is based on how much buyers are willing to pay and how much sellers are willing to accept, essentially reflecting supply and demand.

Spot Rates vs Forward Contracts

When discussing spot rates, it’s important to not confuse this with forward rates. Forward rates can best be described as the opposite of a spot rate, typically used to quote a transaction that will take place down the line at a future date, based on the predicted value at the time of settlement.

What is a Spot Contract?

A spot contract is the legally binding agreement relating to the spot trade deal, representing a sworn obligation to buy or sell at the rate agreed between the two parties.

Due to the immediate nature of the valuation, the spot contract usually dictates that a transaction occurs one or two business days from the initial agreed trade date. The date the transaction is initiated on is commonly referred to as the “horizon”.

Spot Rates and Currency

A foreign exchange spot transaction is where one party agrees to purchase one currency by selling another, at a specific price on a set date. This is sometimes referred to as an “FX spot”.

FX spot rates differ from the exchange rate you would see at a typical bureau de change due primarily to the volume of currency exchanged in business vs civilian usage. Think of it as the same way that wholesale prices differ from retail prices.

For more information on spot rates, why not get in touch today and speak with one of our foreign exchange experts? Call now on 020 7190 9559 or send us a message online using the button below.

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SEPA Transfers

If you need to send money abroad, the transfer process can sometimes be a bit of headache, particularly if you’re a novice and don’t know where to start.

After all, not everyone is a financial expert and separating acronyms like SWIFT and IBAN can leave many a civilian more than a little befuddled.

That being said, transferring euros throughout the European Union can be a fairly straightforward process, thanks primarily to the introduction of SEPA transfers.

What Are SEPA Transfers?

In a nutshell, SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. A payment initiative of the European Union, SEPA transfers are specifically designed to simplify bank transfers denominated in the currency of euros and improve the overall efficiency of cross-border payments within the EU.

The aim of SEPA transfers is to make an international transfer of euro payments the equivalent to money transfer within your own country. Naturally, this is only applicable to participating countries, predominantly featuring those that comprise the EU, and SEPA doesn’t cover payments in currencies other than the euro.

Essentially, SEPA allows for smooth borderless payment within the Eurozone. For example, you could send money quickly and easily from Paris to Berlin much like you would a payment from Birmingham to Bromley, with no strings attached.

Payments typically take between 1 and 2 working days to complete.

Which Countries Participate in SEPA?

In a nutshell, SEPA stands for Single Euro Payments Area. A payment initiative of the European Union, SEPA transfers are specifically designed to simplify bank transfers denominated in the currency of euros and improve the overall efficiency of cross-border payments within the EU.

The aim of SEPA transfers is to make an international transfer of euro payments the equivalent to money transfer within your own country. Naturally, this is only applicable to participating countries, predominantly featuring those that comprise the EU, and SEPA doesn’t cover payments in currencies other than the euro.

Essentially, SEPA allows for smooth borderless payment within the Eurozone. For example, you could send money quickly and easily from Paris to Berlin much like you would a payment from Birmingham to Bromley, with no strings attached.

Payments typically take between 1 and 2 working days to complete.

Which Countries Participate in SEPA?

As of November 2019, the list of SEPA countries is as follows:

  • Åland Islands
  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Azores
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Canary Islands
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • French Guiana
  • Germany
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guernsey
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Italy
  • Jersey
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Madeira
  • Malta
  • Martinique
  • Mayotte
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Réunion
  • Romania
  • Saint Barthélemy
  • Saint Martin (French part)
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  • San Marino
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom 

Are SEPA Transfers Free?

Transfers between banks accounts in different SEPA countries should cost the same as domestic transfer and incur no inflated fees, despite the international nature of the exchange, as per EU regulations.

For more information on SEPA transfers or to make an EU transfer with Universal Partners FX, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 020 7190 9559 to speak with one of our expert advisors or get in touch online by clicking the button below.

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Moving to the USA

Arguably one of the most popular countries in the world, the USA has long been a destination of choice for many globetrotters and travellers worldwide. Unsurprisingly, this fact also extends to Brits looking to relocate outside of UK shores.

Heralded as “The Land of Opportunity”, the USA poses many exciting possibilities for those looking to emigrate to the US. However, moving to the US is no small feat and requires a great deal of planning, preparation and paperwork.

Whatever your reasons for moving to the USA, if you’re serious about upping sticks and heading Stateside, there are a number of things you’ll need to get in order before you do.

US Visas

In the post-9/11 landscape, national security in the US is understandably a very delicate and serious subject. Naturally, the United States Government is very cautious about who they allow to come into the country and, as such, moving to America requires a lot of due diligence.

The very first thing you need to consider when moving to America is getting a visa. Visas allow you the legal right to live, work and stay in a foreign country and the “Good Ol’ US of A” is no exception.

That being said, there is no “one size fits all” solution to travelling to the US and visas can be muddy waters to navigate, particularly when you stumble across tourist-related entry like the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA or student-related academic admin like the F-1 or M-1 visas.

With several different variations of the US visa to choose from, it’s important to know exactly which one applies to you before you begin your application. As a general rule, there are two primary forms of visa that are applicable to those looking to move to the USA.

- Nonimmigrant Visas

If you wish to move to the USA to work temporarily, the nonimmigrant visa is probably the one for you. That being said, according to the US Department of State, there are over 20 nonimmigrant visa types for those travelling to the US temporarily.

The US Government doesn’t issue work visas for casual employment, so a nonimmigrant visa application will often need to be accompanied by correspondence between your prospective employer and

For additional information on which nonimmigrant visa may be applicable to you, check out the following information from the UK US Embassy.

Immigrant Visas

Commonly referred to as a “green card”, immigrant visas are typically applicable to those looking for permanent residence in the United States.

While the entry criteria can vary, common routes of qualification include an offer of permanent employment from a US company or sponsorship from an existing family already stateside.

However, while possession of a green card does grant permanent residency in the United States, it doesn’t allow you to stay in the US indefinitely. Even if you are authorised with a green card, you will still be required to renew it every ten years in order to maintain your status.

That being said, once you have lived in the US for at least five years, you may be eligible to apply for US citizenship; however, this naturally comes with a long list of terms and conditions attached.

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program

In addition to the above, there is a third, less common option that is applicable to a small minority of those in the UK looking to apply for a US visa – namely the Diversity Visa (DV).

The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is open to those from countries where there are historically low rates of US immigration and involves a random selection process.

The program itself is limited to just 50,000 annual entries, distributed among 38 countries in six geographic regions. No country can receive more than 7% of the DV allocation in any one year.

While UK citizens are generally excluded, those from Northern Ireland are not. Additionally, there are also possible exceptions if your spouse is a foreign national.

While the above information is a handy overview to follow for your, be sure to check with the official US Embassy & Consulates for the most up to date details at the time of your trip. Meanwhile, for more information on the types of immigrant/nonimmigrant visas available, visit the Travel.State.Gov for the full rundown.

Moving to America Checklist

Sadly, the application process for moving to the US can be a notoriously lengthy and frustrating process, meaning plenty of waiting around and prolonged periods of transitional purgatory.

Even after you have overcome that sizeable hurdle, don’t begin baking that apple pie and belting out the “Star-Spangled Banner” just yet – there is still plenty of work to do before you touch down on American soil and wave “Old Glory” with pride.

Accommodation

Before you can begin living the American dream, you’re going to need somewhere to live full-stop.

While this can be done online, relying on web images and second-hand accounts isn’t always the best course of action – especially when it comes to permanent accommodation.

As a stopgap, you may want to arrange temporary accommodation to live in when you arrive. That way, you can check out potential permanent residence in person before you commit to a property.

Social Security

Another thing you will need to address once you arrive in the USA is an application for a social security number.

An SSN is a nine-digit number issued to you by the US Government that’s used to keep track of employment details, such as earnings and years worked.

If you have a US work visa, this process can’t be done in advance; however, it can be arranged easily in person at your local Social Security Admin office once you arrive.

Health Insurance

Unlike in the UK, healthcare in the USA is privatised. As such, health insurance is required to cover the costs of any treatment you may require during your stay.

It’s not unusual for employers to contribute towards US health insurance costs, so be sure to check with your employer if they have you covered before you take out any unnecessary additions.

Moving Possessions

If you are planning on taking many of your homely possessions with you, arranging transport for these items before you leave will be a necessary part of the process.

Naturally, this process will depend largely on what you plan on taking with you and your living arrangements once you arrive. Having a three-piece suite shipped over in a cargo freight to a hotel probably isn’t a good idea.

That being said, there are plenty of services online that can ship over boxes and suitcases full of smaller items. Better still, a lot of cargo companies will also handle customs clearance for you, which can make the process considerably easier.

- Driving

Driving in the US is a lot more than just getting used to using the other side of the road. In fact, for UK ex-pats, it’s going to unsurprisingly involve even more paperwork.

While short-term visitors may be able to get away with their UK driving license accompanied by an International Driving Permit for rentals, UK citizens taking up permanent residence in the US will be required to get a driver’s license for the state they will reside in.

For additional information, check out the relevant state page on the Department of Motor Vehicles website for further details.

- Tying Up Loose Ends

While upping sticks and disappearing into the night may seem like a memorable way to make an exit, leaving without notifying the appropriate people can be a costly error.

To avoid accruing unnecessary bills for services you haven’t used long after you leave, be sure to sever ties with the relevant channels. Pay up your bills, inform any service providers and close any accounts you no longer need.

Money in the US

Like any big relocation, one of the main factors you will need to take into account when planning your move to America is how you plan on handling your money before and after.

Setting up a bank account in the US before you arrive can be a mammoth task to add to an already mammoth list. As such, it’s probably an avoidable chore you could do without and one best left for when you arrive.

In the interim, you will probably need to send money to the US before you leave, whether you’re paying for services, accommodation or simply transferring funds to a loved one on the other side.

Luckily, this is one part of the process that is refreshingly simple. With the help of Universal Partners FX, you can send money to the USA quickly, easily and hassle-free.

Our easy-to-use system allows you to achieve a safe, secure transaction in a swift and cost-effective manner. No hidden transaction fees, no strings attached.

To transfer money to the US, all you have to do is follow our simple three-step process:

  1. Register for free
  2. Secure your exchange rate
  3. We make your payment

At Universal Partners FX, we know that moving to the US is no easy feat and we’re more than happy to do the hard work for you when it comes to transferring money to the US.

Backed by a 5-star Feefo rating, you can rest assured that, with us, your money is in safe hands, leaving you to concentrate on making your American dream a reality.

 

For more information on moving to the US or to find out more about sending money to America, why not drop us a line today? Call 020 7190 9559 now to talk with one of our expert advisors or get in touch online by using the button below.

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Despite Brexit, it is not difficult to see how appealing it will be to buy property in Monaco, especially when you are a millionaire. For example, pro-Brexit Ineos boss Sir Jim Ratcliffe decided last year to move to Monaco to avoid UK taxes on his £21bn fortune. With almost 35 in every 100 residents of Monaco being millionaires, British expats can feel part of the elite.

A staunch Brexiter, Ratcliffe offered support for the Leave campaign, but has repeatedly criticised investing in the UK when taxes were high but embraced his British roots when his business benefited from corporation tax cuts.

Ratcliffe sees himself as “a lover of Britain” but when it comes to business, “choice must be about head as well as heart.”

If you feel the same, and are choosing to buy property in Monaco consciously, then you can join some of the wealthiest people. UHNWIs (Ultra-High Net Worth Individuals) flock to Monaco for low taxes, but also for the quality of life.

In 2016, the Telegraph reported that Monaco had started a €2 billion (£1.8 billion) operation to reclaim land from the sea in order to build more luxury housing for the world's wealthiest residents. According to research by the estate agent Knight Frank, about 2,700 more millionaires are expected to move in Monaco by 2026, increasing the number of millionaires to 16,100 out of a total population of 38,400.

Monaco’s housing market

With its soft climate and location on Cote d’Azur, its glamorous lifestyle, and the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix, Monaco offers luxury with a high price tag; it is simply, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. So, if you are searching for affordable accommodation, to either rent or buy, Monaco is not for you.

However, anyone can buy property, as long as they can afford to spend €36,000 per square meter for an apartment. If you are looking for newly built houses, then we are talking about between 4 to 10 million and prices can increase depending on the kind of property and its location.

If you do buy real estate, you can browse listing sites and get in touch with agents. When it comes to the actual transaction, you will need to pay a notary to execute and authenticate it. If you go with a real estate agent, you will need to pay fees of around 3% (plus VAT) of the purchase price. You will also need to pay registration fees at 4.5% of the property’s market value.

The market is healthy, and the trend of building apartments is on the rise. According to Knight Frank, 50 new apartments were sold in 2017 at prices below €5m, with properties above €5m accounting for 23% of sales. In 2017, properties were around at €53,000 per sq m., while more premium properties can exceed €100,000 per sq m.

Buying property

Before signing any agreements, you should get a notary’s opinion no matter if you’re buying or selling.

Once you decided on the property, you can express your interest with an offer letter, outlining the details of the property, price and the time of transaction. The notary would prepare the purchase contract and the sale would be completed at the notary’s office with the payment, including the notary’s fees, transfer taxes and other related costs. If you are an individual, you will need to pay 6% in property registration tax, title registration and notary fees. Otherwise, if the property is purchased by foreign companies, they will pay 9%. The notary will transfer the funds and register the new owner at the registry of deeds. Owners of newly built properties or those who will build their own properties, must pay 20% VAT.

Universal Partners FX

If you are moving ahead with buying property in Monaco, you will need to discuss your currency transfers with a foreign exchange specialist such as Universal Partners FX. With years of experience in transferring funds internationally and a great team of currency brokers making sure that your funds are transferred safely and efficiently in your overseas account, UPFX are the ideal partners for your currency needs. Get in touch with them today, to find out how they can help you get access to the best exchange rates in the market.

For many British expats, buying property in Portugal remains a top priority despite the uncertainties of Brexit. From Lisbon to Porto, Chaves and Lagos, Portugal’s most popular locations continue to seduce British expats who emigrate in the country to enjoy the warm summers and uncrowded cities offering quality of life and delicious cuisine. Just think of Portugal’s iconic Fado music, Port wine, Algarve’s beaches and the delicious pastel de nata; Portugal’s charms can easily convince anyone to move there.

Whether you are looking for a villa or a beachside property, it’s important to be aware of the legal processes, costs, taxes and other fees involved in buying property in Portugal. Here’s some helpful tips to get you started.

The property market, residence and Brexit

The property market is now growing steadily and buying a property in a good location will count as a good investment.

In the last decade, around three-quarters of people own their own home in Portugal. As there are no restrictions on owning foreign property, EU citizens can buy their property easily. Around 50,000 Brits have been living in Portugal.

Especially if they can afford it, they can apply for a golden visa, which will allow them to live there for five years if they invest in a property worth a minimum of EUR 500,000000 (or EUR 350,000 for redevelopment in an urban renovation zone). After the period of five years, they will be able to apply for permanent residency. If you’re applying for a golden visa, you’ll need to reside in Portugal for at least seven days in the first year and 14 or more days in the following years.

In general, if you have been living in Portugal for five years you can apply for a permanent residence status, and after six years, for Portuguese citizenship as Portugal allows dual citizenship.

With Brexit, British citizens might lose some of the freedoms they enjoyed under the EU. While buying a holiday home and not moving in Portugal permanently won’t change after Brexit, there might be more bureaucratic processes, including applying for the visa waiver ETIAS scheme (European Travel Information and Authorization System). This is a completely new electronic system expected to be in place by 2021, which will keep track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. This means that you'll be limited to 90 days in any 180-day period within the Schengen area.

According to the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, the rights of British citizens who live or invest in Portugal will be protected. With the two countries’ close relationship and Portuguese economy depending on tourism and construction, British citizens’ rights might not be under threat.

Fiscal Number

To buy a property in Portugal, you’ll need to apply for a Personal Fiscal Number (Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF), or Número de Contribuinte), a tax identification number issued to anyone conducting official business in Portugal. Whether investing in property, living or being involved in any form of business in Portugal, you will need to have a Portuguese fiscal number. For example, if you are buying a property with your partner and your names are both on the title deeds, then you will both need to have a Portuguese tax identification number. 

How much do properties cost in Portugal?

Location will naturally affect the property price, with Lisbon and the Algarve’s coastal areas being the most popular and expensive areas.  A villa in Lisbon and Algarve will cost you around €400,000 and €300,000 respectively, while a small apartment will be around €130,000 in either of these two locations. You have to consider that your expenses will increase depending on the property’s price. The more expensive your home, the more you will have to pay in property taxes, based on a property’s fiscal value. If you are looking for a bargain, heading towards the central region of Portugal, will offer you the advantage of lovely big homes at lower prices.  Compared to the Algarve, the Silver Coast is also a beautiful and cheaper alternative.

Universal Partners FX

If you have found your dream home in Portugal and you want to transfer your deposit from abroad, then you need expert help from a currency specialist firm such as Universal Partners FX. UPFX can help you make all your international money transfers safely and fast. Get in touch with their dedicated currency dealers to get access to bank-beating exchange rates and find out how much they can save you on your international currency transfers.

What is the FCA

 

If you are involved in the financial services industry, chances are that you have come across the initialism of FCA.

In this context, FCA refers to the Financial Conduct Authority – the UK’s financial watchdog tasked with keeping an eye on the financial business across British shores.

 

What is the FCA?

In a nutshell, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is an independent regulatory body that provides regulatory services to the financial services industry in the UK.

Despite operating completely separately from the government, the FCA is the conduct regulator for over 59,000 financial services firms and financial markets in the UK.

 

About the FCA

Following the perceived failure of the banks during the infamous financial crisis of 2007/2008, the UK government conceded that restructuring was necessary for the field of financial regulation.

 

What Does the FCA Do?

According to the official FCA website, the primary operational objectives of the authority are to protect consumers, protect the integrity of the financial markets and promote effective competition between financial service providers in the best interests of the consumer.

With an extensive remit that covers a wide range of stakeholders, the FCA takes a proportionate approach to regulation, prioritising those that pose a higher risk to their objectives in pursuit of maintaining their goals.

 

The FCA and HM Treasury

Despite being a sovereign entity acting independently from the government, the FCA is still accountable to HM Treasury. The purpose of this is to ensure that the work of the FCA helps the financial market remain honest, fair and effective, with the ultimate aim of keeping the industry stable.

This condition is outlined in the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA). The FSMA notes that the Treasury may make recommendations to the FCA at any time about aspects of the economic policy it deems necessary of consideration, provided written notice is given.

This includes how to act in a way which is compatible with the FCA’s strategic objective and how to advance one or more of its operational objectives, in addition to other criteria outlined in the FSMA.

 

The FCA and Universal Partners

By now you may be wondering “What does all this have to do with Universal Partners FX?” The answer to that question is quite simply “a lot”.

Universal Partners FX currency exchange services are provided by The Currency Cloud Limited. The Currency Cloud Limited is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Electronic Money Regulations 2011 for the issuing of electronic money.

As a financial service that operates under the jurisdiction of the FCA, Universal Partners is bound to adhere to the FCA objectives of competitive, consumer-protected activity, meaning that consumers can rest assured they are getting a safe, secure and fair service.

For more information on our services or any FCA queries relating to us, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 020 7190 9559 or get in touch online by clicking the button below.

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Getting Married Abroad

Did you now that the average cost of a wedding in the UK is between £25-30,000? It comes to no surprise then, why so many more people are choosing to get married abroad. In comparison to the UK, the average cost of getting married abroad can be up to a whopping £14,000 cheaper. Saving that amount of money, on top of spending a week away with your closest friends and family in the sun, sand and sea is more than enough reason for any couple to consider ditching Britain and taking their big day overseas. So, the questions that come next are usually how much does getting married abroad cost and how do you pay for it? Let’s take a look.

The cost of getting married abroad

We obviously can’t give you a definitive answer to how much your wedding will cost if you choose to wed overseas. This will all come down to the destination you choose, how big and extravagant you’re willing to go and of course, the exchange rate. With foreign exchange rates constantly fluctuating, the costs involved with your wedding are going to change. From venue hire, wedding planner fees and even flights, all of these wedding essentials are likely to be more or less expensive depending on worldwide markets. But there’s no need to worry, this is where we can step in and lend a helping hand with our foreign exchange expertise.

Paying for your wedding abroad

Whether you’re looking to make regular international payments or a one-off money transfer, Universal Partners FX can help you save time and money with our safe and secure online payment platform. Simply sign-up for a personal account today, where you will be assigned an experienced account manager who can guide you through each of useful tools and services that we offer to make paying for your wedding easy and hassle-free. Such as targeting the desired exchange rate to make a payment when it suits you, potentially saving you hundreds of pounds and leaving you with more money to spend on the honeymoon.

Our forward contracts allow you to secure a particular exchange rate for up to two whole years, meaning you will receive the same rate throughout this time, regardless of any fluctuations. Leaving you to spend more time thinking about and planning your wedding, instead of checking the exchange rates every day.

We are here to help you

Whether you’re looking to book a picturesque beach wedding abroad or are planning a more traditional wedding at home, Universal Partners FX is always here to ensure your financial and foreign exchange needs are looked after most professionally and helpfully. An online account with us guarantees 24/7 access no matter where you are in the world, reliable and expert advice from experienced professionals as well as a safe and secure service that you can trust. Do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of the UPFX team today to take the first steps to getting married abroad.

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