What Happens to Unpaid Credit Card Debt if You Move Abroad?
If you’ve been struggling with credit card debt for a while, you may be considering moving abroad to escape it for good.
Sometimes, that isn’t even the case. You may have a debt but you may be considering moving abroad to be close to family or due to a job opportunity.
In such cases, one has to think about their credit history and the money they owe. Do your creditors stop chasing you once you move abroad? Furthermore, are you even allowed to move to a new country if you owe debts?
Today, I’ll go over the gritty details regarding moving abroad if you have debts left to pay.
Can My Creditors Chase Me for Debts if I Move to a New Country?
The short answer is yes. However, there are many nuances to it as matters can take on a whole new level of complexity depending on your specific financial situation.
It also depends a lot on how you’ve dealt with the creditor regarding your move abroad.
If you have been communicative with them and have left them a forwarding address, they will not be as aggressive with pursuing you but of course, they will be in contact with you and will expect you to pay it back eventually.
On the other hand, if you have purposefully moved out of the country to avoid your debt and have just vanished without informing your creditor, there’s nothing stopping them from starting a County Court Judgment (CCJ) at your last known address in the UK.
If you have any assets in the UK, then your creditor can start a charging order which would seize these assets against your debt. Note that this can be done entirely in your absence.
Furthermore, a CCJ prevents your debt from becoming statute-barred. This means that if you were to ever return to the UK, you will still be answerable for your debt. It will never become unenforceable.
Do Creditors and Debt Collectors have the Authority to Collect Money from Me in Another Country?
While it’s true that a lot of creditors have the right to pursue you for the debt you owe here in the UK, their powers and authority may be severely limited or even non-existent in other countries.
Your creditor may smartly hire a debt collection agency which has a partner or “sister” agency in the country to which you moved to. This sister agency can then pursue you for the debt you owe in the UK.
You can still dispute this practice as the agency would be attempting to collect debt you owe in the UK in another country. There’s a lot of grey area here which you can definitely use to your advantage.
However, most of the time, debt collection agencies are much more well-versed in how debt collection laws work in different countries and you might just end up being bested.
This is why my advice is always that you should always try to never let it escalate to that point. When accounts get sold or transferred (and that too internationally) it can become quite complex and difficult to handle.
Can My Debt be Sold to Another Debt Recovery Agency in My New Country?
Yes, it definitely can be sold to a debt recovery agency in the country you chose to move to.
Ultimately, moving abroad rarely works out if you’re just moving abroad to escape your debt. Everything is digital and connected and it’s normally very easy to track people down.
Some countries such as Australia and Canada have reciprocating agreements with the UK which enables them to pursue debtors that have moved abroad to these countries.
Thus, your creditor could definitely sell your account to a recovery agency in that country who would use the usual tactics that these companies employ in order to get you to pay up.
Once a debt is sold to a recovery agency in the country you moved to, you may start getting letters or phone calls from collectors regarding your debt. They may not have the power to get you to pay up but if you keep on refusing, they might get the court involved depending on what country you’re in.
You can opt to use the grey areas in international law to dispute the debts claim but again, this is generally a very risky idea. I would much rather suggest that you just figure out an affordable payment plan so that you can pay back the money you owe over a certain period of time.
What Happens to My Credit History if I Move Abroad?
If you’re moving abroad with the intention of running away from your debts, your credit history may not be of much concern to you.
However, I can definitely tell you that your credit history and credit file is something that you should be very concerned about.
In most countries, you will find it very difficult to obtain any kind of credit until you have been a resident of that country for at least some time. So, during your initial time in the new country, you will have to rely on your UK credit report in order to help you secure credit.
As you can probably expect, if you’re running away from your debts, your credit score will be in extremely bad shape. Thus, you will have a lot of difficulty securing any kind of loan or credit to buy a car or a home. Setting up your new life in another country with a bad credit score will definitely be extremely difficult.
What’s the Best Course of Action Regarding Unpaid Debts When Moving Abroad?
With all of the aspects I’ve highlighted today, I can say with certainty that the best course of action for you would be to take care of as much debt as you can while you’re still in the UK.
This may seem difficult if you have to leave on an urgent basis. In this case, I suggest that you seek advice from an independent charity. They have experts who will analyse your circumstances and help you draw up a plan that would be best suited to your needs.
In any case, you should always aim to pay off as much money as you can while you’re still in the UK. That way, once you do move abroad, you’ll be able to live a worry-free life without having to worry about any money that you owe.
You will also have the peace of mind of knowing you can return to the UK anytime you want without having to face any court action.
In the end, all I have to say is that in today’s digital age, everything is connected. Just because you’ve moved abroad does not mean that your debts are not going to follow you there.
Be sure to be transparent with your creditors about why you’re moving out of the UK and ensure that you’ll be able to pay what you owe to them regardless of your move.