We all want to go on holiday and take some time out. And we all may have been at the receiving end of some debts, especially if we have some credit agreements in place. Before you go on holiday (or even whilst you are away), you may suddenly start to wonder if those unpaid debts could come back to haunt you. We have a look at whether you could get stopped at the airport for debt in the UK, and what circumstances might result in you being stopped.

Debts and holidays

If you’ve gone on holiday with some unpaid debts, you may feel the weight of them looming over you. We all have had to deal with debts at some point or another, so you’re not alone if you are having debt worries. Taking a holiday is supposed to be relaxing, but you might find that the matter is playing on your mind while you’re away. 

If you’re worried about whether you might be stopped at the airport coming back from your holiday because of your outstanding debts, the quick answer is you don’t need to. For debts alone, you can’t be stopped, detained or arrested at a UK airport. 

Do you have to pay them if you leave the country?

Some people wrongly believe that by leaving the country, even temporarily, you can get away from your debts. Whilst you won’t be stopped at the airport for debt at a UK airport, you will still have to continue paying as you were before you left the country. This applies only if you are leaving the country temporarily.

Leaving the UK permanently

Going off on holiday with unpaid debts is one thing, but if you’re planning on leaving the UK on a more permanent basis is another. Debt collection agencies are persistent at the best of times, bombarding you with letters, phone calls, and even home visits. 

If you’re planning on leaving the country, you should make sure that you don’t leave with unpaid debts. You can deal with debts while you are abroad, but the process is quite tricky. You can find out about how to deal with debts from abroad on this article featured on the StepChange website. 

Will they still chase me for my unpaid debts?

Lenders who are owed money will be keen to follow you anywhere if you have unfinished business. Some debt collection agencies have international debt collection agency links, and they may end up selling or assigning the debt to a collection agency abroad. 

This means that instead of escaping from your debt, it quite literally gets on the plane with you. You’re legally obliged to supply your debt collection agency with your new address if you are relocating.

What happens if I don’t give them a forwarding address?

If you do not supply your debt collector with a forwarding address, then they may be allowed to stop you at the airport for not paying your debt. If you do not do this, and you retain some assets in the UK, the creditors may go after these. 

You could end up with all sorts of problems on your plate if you don’t let your creditors know where you are relocating to. By letting them know your forwarding address, they may reach out to a partner agency that have jurisdiction in the country you’re going to. 

This then means that you can go about repaying the debt using these foreign services. You will, however, potentially have to deal with their different methods of getting their debts back.

What if I am planning on coming back to the UK?

If you aren’t moving on a permanent basis, you will, of course, have to return at some point. Once you return, you can be assured that your outstanding debt will have accrued additional fees and substantial interest payments, resulting in it being much higher than the original debt you owed. 

How far can they go to getting me to pay?

Being stopped at an airport for debt in the UK is one of the last resorts a debt collection agency will take to getting you to cover your unpaid debts. As we said previously, this will only happen if you do not acknowledge them and offer up a forwarding address in your new country of residence. 

Debt collection agencies have a bad rep, mainly owing to their quite stringent methods of getting you to pay the debt you owe. They do have to follow certain guidelines, some of which you can find out about here.

What happens if I don’t give them any information?

If you do not supply this information, they could take possession of any assets you have remaining in the UK. These can include physical, tangible items, or assets contained within bank accounts. As well as claiming any assets you may have in the country of origin, they can also make sure you are stopped at the UK airport for your debt. 

In accordance with the laws of the country you have moved to, an agency can go to quite severe extents to get you to pay. These can include, but aren’t limited to, taking you to court and sending agents to your home.

Final thoughts

The quick answer to whether you can get stopped at an airport in the UK for unpaid debt is no, if you are only going on a holiday and if you make sure that you inform your debt collection agency of all the necessary information regarding your relocation.

Debt collection agencies may well send an agent or a representative to the airport if they discover that you are planning to leave the country and haven’t given them a forwarding address in your new location. You may believe that you won’t get caught out by them. However, they can use the courts to find this information out.

About the author

Scott Nelson

Scott Nelson is a financial services expert, with over 10 years’ experience in the industry, including 6 years in FCA regulated companies. Read more
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