The UK government changed the rights attaching to British National (Overseas) status (BNO) in Hong Kong in 2020. As a result, a new UK visa became available to BNO citizens and their close family members as of 31 January 2021.

The BNO Visa permits Hong Kong citizens with BNO status to come to the UK with their close family members for five years. After five years of residence in the UK, they will be entitled to apply for settlement – termed ‘indefinite leave to remain’ – and after one further year of residence to apply for British citizenship.

BNO Visa holders are able to work or study freely in the UK, including applying for higher education courses. Although they will not generally be entitled to claim benefits, they will be able to use the UK National Health Service (NHS).

There is no limit on the number of eligible people who can come to the UK under this new visa. The UK government said there were around 2.9 million BNO citizens in total and has estimated that, with dependents and members of family units, a further 2.5 million Hong Kong residents may also qualify.

Any BNO citizens in Hong Kong who are looking to relocate or invest in the UK will need to ensure that they have a clear understanding of the UK tax system and should make pre-arrival tax planning a priority. UK income tax rates of up to 45% are generally much higher than those in Hong Kong, while the UK also levies tax on capital gains and inheritance. The UK tax code also provides a preferential tax regime for those who are resident but not domiciled in the UK – often referred to as ‘Non-Doms’.

Moving to the UK can be a daunting process for you and your family– even more so if you run your own business. In addition to the logistical, financial and emotional pressures, there are a number of practical issues that will also need to be addressed: location, accommodation, security, business set-up, employment, banking, registrations, documentation, insurance and access to healthcare or education.

With offices located in both Hong Kong and the UK, and a wealth of expertise and experience in both jurisdictions, Sovereign is well-positioned to guide you throughout the journey – from application through to settlement – and to resolve any issues you might encounter along the way. We are here to help make the process as simple as possible.

Sovereign assists families and entrepreneurs around the world to maximise their opportunities through residency, immigration and citizenship programmes. We have broad experience in managing estates with complex structures involving assets and beneficiaries in multiple jurisdictions and the legal, tax and compliance issues that arise when the laws of several jurisdictions may apply.

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Please contact us if you have any questions or queries and your local representative will be in touch with you as soon as possible.