Believe it or not, you don’t have to be a UK citizen to get a mortgage and it’s entirely possible to get your foot on the UK property ladder without a British passport. However, it can be slightly more complicated, and interest rates tend to be higher if you aren’t already a UK citizen.
While some high street banks such as HSBC and Natwest do offer the option of a foreign national mortgage or expat mortgage, the number is relatively small, and you might find that there aren’t many options, due to the small number of lenders who currently have them on offer.
Individual banks will set their own terms, so in a competitive market, it’s always highly recommended to shop around for the most suitable deal, alongside doing some additional research into other specialist lenders and building societies to ensure that you get the best deal.
There are three main types of mortgage options for non-UK residents which include:
If you are a citizen from a country within the EU, it will be easier to obtain a mortgage as lenders tend to treat EU citizens the same way as their British counterparts. All 27 countries within the European Union are included, including Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein, and this usually applies to Swiss nationals as well.
As with UK citizens, banks and other lenders will want to see that you have a good credit history within the country, so it’s advisable to be already living and working in the UK for a minimum of 12 months before starting the application process. However, the longer you are working and building up a credit history, the better, so it is recommended that you are in the country for a total of 3 years. Other things that will help you along your way to secure a mortgage include setting up a UK bank account for your direct debits as well as a mobile phone contract. All other types of credit, including credit cards, loans, and overdrafts, will be recorded in your credit history, so make sure that you are making payments on time to get a good credit score. Lastly, if you are eligible, registering to vote will also go a long way towards securing a mortgage with a UK lender.
If you are not an EU citizen and have no traceable credit history, then, unfortunately, there will be a few more hoops to jump through and some additional criteria that you will have to meet. Much is dependent on how long you are allowed to remain in the country for and the type of visa that you have. It will definitely help if you have at least two years left on your visa, and even more so if you can prove that you have indefinite leave to remain within the country when making an application. Lenders do prefer a residence permit compared to a work-only permit, but some will consider applicants based on work permits alone.
The essential requirements for a non-EU national applying for a UK mortgage include:
These requirements exist to ensure that applicants have built up a UK credit history, which is the standard when applying for a mortgage, giving lenders more confidence that payments will be kept up.
The type of visa you have can significantly affect your mortgage eligibility. Visas typically determine your status within the country and, therefore, directly link to lending criteria.
The three main types of visas include:
EU Citizens: As already mentioned, EU citizens are generally entitled to the same mortgages and options as UK nationals – this does, however, depend on your credit history and personal circumstances.
Tier 1 or Tier 2 Work Visas: The longer you have left on your visa, the higher your chances of securing a mortgage. Lenders prefer applicants who have at least 1-2 years left, as this gives them more confidence that they will be able to cover their payments and are deemed less of a risk.
Family Visas: A good option for those who are married or have blood relatives in the country, having a family visa gives you the extra flexibility of a joint application, the benefits of which include being allowed to work.
If you are already working and living in the UK, you should already have a bank account, so make sure to keep it active. Pay your direct debits through your UK account and ensure that you have a permanent job in the country. This makes you more appealing to lenders who see that you are stable enough to make your payments and are serious about investing in the UK housing market. Keep in mind that some lenders do accept mortgage payments in foreign currencies and from income made abroad.
Unfortunately, there is no single answer, as everything is very much dependent on your personal circumstances. However, you will generally be able to borrow more with a private lender than those found on the UK high street. This is because a private lender will look at your broader income, investment portfolio, and net worth as opposed to high street lenders who only focus on annual salaries when working out how much they can offer, independent of whether you are a UK citizen or not.
As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up the mortgage repayments.