Preparing to return home

11 June 2015

Are you an international student at the end of your studies in the UK?  With an impossible number of things to think about as you prepare to return to your home country?  Finding it difficult to know where to start?  Don’t panic!  A great place to start is right here with UKCISA’s guide to preparing to return home…

Shipping is cheaper than excess luggage

However long you’ve been studying in the UK, there’s a good chance that you’ve got more stuff now than when you arrived.  If you’re flying home and want to bring all your belongings with you on the plane, you may be charged expensive airline fees for excess baggage.  It’s much cheaper to send things home by land and sea.  So, if you don’t mind waiting a couple of weeks for some of your stuff to arrive, think about shipping it.

Read more on travel and shipping.

Get your deposits back and apply for tax refunds

If you paid a deposit for your accommodation, contact your landlord about getting your money back.  Read our information on accommodation and deposits.

If you worked and paid income tax in the UK, you may be eligible for a refund.  You need to contact Revenue and Customs to apply for a tax refund.

If you've been shopping in the UK (within three months of your departure date), you may be eligible for a VAT refund on some of the items you bought.  Again, you should contact Revenue and Customs to apply.

We’ve got more information on tax refunds and how to apply.

Sort out your final bills

Make sure you’ve requested final bills from the companies that supplied your gas, electricity, water, broadband, landline, and mobile phone in the UK.  Arrange to send final meter readings to avoid paying too much for your gas or electricity.  You may be owed some money back from some utilities companies.

If you paid Council Tax, contact your council to close the account.

If your TV licence is valid for more than three months, you can apply for a refund.

Cancel your direct debits and standing orders

Make sure you cancel any direct debits and standing orders from your bank account for any rentals, subscriptions or memberships you will no longer use or need.  You don’t want to return home to find out you’re still paying for a monthly gym membership in the UK!

Pay your bills and clear your debts

Your institution may not award your final qualification if you owe any money for tuition fees, accommodation or even library fines, so make sure you’re up to date with all your payments.

And remember that some UK banks have agreements with banks in other countries enabling them to collect debts around the world, so pay your bills and clear your debts and overdraft before you leave.

Let people know you’re leaving

At your institution, you should notify your academic department, housing office, registry, and alumni office that you’re leaving.  It’s helpful to leave a forwarding address and your contact details so people can get in touch with you if they need to.

Other people to notify are your doctor and dentist and, if your family has been in the UK with you, your child's or children’s school.

Remember to contact and keep in touch with people who you’d like to provide references for you when you start your career search.  You could also think about joining any professional organisations and associations in the UK that do not exist in your home country.

Read more on who you should notify about your departure.

Prepare for reverse culture shock!

Many international students are surprised to find that returning to their home country can be unsettling and difficult.  What used to be familiar may now seem different and you may need some time to get used to things like language, food, and the weather.

Read more on reverse culture shock and ‘re-discovering’ your home country.