If you are living in the UK as a non-UK national, you may be wondering what impact your residency status has on your mortgage options. The good news is there are lots of mortgage options available to foreign nationals, however, the eligibility criteria can be more stringent than for UK citizens.
It is possible for non-UK nationals to get a UK mortgage. Eligibility is based on factors such as nationality, visa status, credit score, and loan-to-value amount. Lenders have varying criteria, and factors like residency duration and financial stability also play a role in determining eligibility.
Read on for Strive Mortgage’s guide to getting a UK mortgage as a foreign national, including our 8 tips to improve your chances of being approved.
Can I buy property in the UK if I am not a UK national?
Yes, UK mortgages are open to non-UK nationals. Most mortgage lenders will consider applications from foreign nationals, however, some may impose additional checks or have enhanced requirements for certain applicants, for example, those on certain visa types or those who have not been in the UK for long and don’t have a UK credit history.
If you have settled status or indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you should have similar options to those offered to mortgages offered to a UK national.
Do you have to live in the UK to get a mortgage?
While there are options for non-UK residents to buy a property in the UK, they are very limited. Most mortgage lenders insist on applicants being residents of the UK and having a valid UK work permit.
Expat mortgages are available to British nationals who are living abroad, and you may also be able to secure a mortgage on a UK property with a mortgage lender from the country you reside in.
What type of non-UK citizen can get a mortgage?
As a foreign national, we mean anyone who does not have the right to a UK passport. But, as long as you have the right to live and work in the UK, you should have mortgage options available to you.
Mortgage lenders will consider most visa types other than short-term visas. Mortgage lender criteria does vary depending on your circumstances. Some lenders may insist on larger deposits and/or require that you have lived in the UK for a minimum period of time.
Indefinite leave to remain
If you have indefinite leave to remain in the UK, you will have access to the same deals as UK citizens and will typically be subject to the same criteria.
However, if you don’t have indefinite remain to leave, then the process may be a little different.
Tier 2 Visa (Working Visa)
If you are a foreign national residing in the UK as a skilled worker, then you will be a resident on a ‘working visa’ formally known as a Tier 2 visa.
Securing a mortgage on a Tier 2 visa is certainly possible, although there are two main considerations aside from the lender’s standard criteria:
- The length of time you have been a resident in the UK
- The time left on your Tier 2 visa
The longer you have left on your visa and have lived in the UK, the more options you will have available to you. Many mortgage lenders ask for larger deposits for those holding a Tier 2 visa. Some lenders, for example, insist on a minimum income if you don’t have a 25% deposit.
These types of visas allow individuals who are married to UK citizens to work and live permanently in the UK. Lenders look at borrowers holding spousal visas more favourably, as they consider them to be at less risk of losing their visa.
Other Visa Types
- Tier 1 Visa
- Tier 5 Visa
- UK Ancestry Visa
- Work Visa
- Family Visa
- Student Visa
- British National Overseas Visa
Until Brexit, applying for a mortgage in the UK was almost the same for an EU citizen as it was for UK residents. This was because, historically, there were no visa requirements for European Union nationals.
Post-Brexit, it’s still fairly straightforward with most UK lenders, although they require that you have the right to live and work in the UK, which can be evidenced through your share code or residency permits.
Some lenders may insist on a minimum length of time living in the UK, and others will consider applications from the moment you arrive.
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Whether you’ve just had an offer accepted on a property and you’re ready to go, or you’re simply wondering how much you need to save for a deposit, it’s never too soon to reach out.
8 ways to improve your chances of getting a mortgage as a non-UK citizen
1. Save a bigger deposit
A larger deposit will reduce your loan-to-value, making you less of a risk in the eyes of mortgage lenders.
2. Wait until you have spent longer in the UK
Lenders often require a certain minimum period of residency in the UK before they will consider your mortgage application. Generally, having a longer residency period in the UK provides you with more options for getting a mortgage.
3. Open a UK bank account
It’s a requirement of most UK mortgage lenders for a borrower to have an active UK bank account. This enables the lender to get an overview of your spending habits and assess your ability to repay a mortgage. Mortgage lenders check that you have good account conduct, are within your overdraft limits and paying your direct debits on time.
4. Make a joint application
If you are applying for a mortgage together with a partner or spouse who has a higher income or better credit score than you, it can increase the likelihood of your application getting approved. The lender will evaluate both applicant’s income and credit scores to assess your application.
5. Extend your visa
If your visa is about to expire, extending it can give you more time to improve your credit score and income, which may increase your chances of being approved for a mortgage.
6. Get a permanent job
While it’s not essential to have a permanent job to get a mortgage, having one will prove to the lender that you have a secure source of income and improve your chances of success with your mortgage application. But many lenders will be happy to consider you for a foreign national mortgage if you can evidence self-employed or rental income.
7. Improve your credit rating
Maintaining a traceable credit history is crucial to pass a lender’s credit checks. You can enhance your credit rating by ensuring timely payment of your bills, keeping your credit card balances low, and avoiding applying for too much credit at once.
8. Use the services of an independent mortgage broker
Working with a mortgage advisor who has access to a large panel of lenders will ensure you give yourself the best possible chance of success with your application.
It’s also important to choose a mortgage broker that has experience arranging foreign national mortgages, as they will have a good understanding of the lending criteria and may have contacts within the industry that may help them negotiate a better deal.
An independent mortgage broker has access to high-street lenders and, usually, specialist lenders, who have more flexible lending criteria for foreign national mortgages compared to traditional lenders.
What impact does owning another property outside the UK have on my mortgage?
If you have a mortgage on a property outside of the UK, certain lenders might include the payments to calculate your affordability. Bear in mind this may attract extra stamp duty charges. Therefore, it is advisable to verify these details with an accountant or a professional who can provide proper guidance.
As a British citizen, can I get a joint mortgage with my non-UK citizen partner?
If you are a British citizen and your partner is a non-UK citizen, you can still apply for a joint mortgage. However, the eligibility criteria will depend on the lender’s requirements, and some may have more flexible criteria in this situation. It is important to check with the lender beforehand and ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements before making the application.
What credit score do I need to have to get a mortgage as a foreign national?
As a foreign national, you may wonder what credit score is required to get a mortgage in the UK. Unfortunately, there is no specific minimum credit score requirement for foreign nationals. However, having a good credit score can increase your chances of getting approved for a mortgage.
If you are new to the UK and do not have an established credit history, this can be a challenge. Assisting you with improving your credit score can increase your chances to get approved with better interest rates. If you are new to the UK and have no credit history, this can be challenging.
Lenders may be more lenient with regard to your credit score if you have a large deposit, as it helps mitigate the risk. If you’re considering getting a mortgage, it’s worth downloading a copy of your credit report at the earliest opportunity to see if you need to take action.
How can I prove my right to live and work in the UK?
Lenders will require evidence of your right to live and work in the UK. There are several ways to prove this, including:
If you are an EU, EEA, or Swiss citizen living in the UK, you can check your share code here.
To prove your right to live and work in the UK, you need to provide your visa documents, including a valid visa or biometric residence permit.
Your passport can be used as a form of ID, although you might need additional documents depending on your situation.
Please note that different documents are required to prove your right to live and work in the UK based on your specific circumstances and visa type. It is always recommended to check with the relevant authorities or seek professional advice if you are unsure about the documents you need to provide.
How can Strive Mortgages help me?
Applying for a mortgage can sometimes be a daunting and challenging process, especially for non-UK citizens. Working with an experienced mortgage broker like Strive Mortgages can improve your chances of being approved for a foreign national mortgage.
At Strive Mortgages, we specialise in foreign national mortgages and have successfully helped thousands of non-UK nationals achieve their homeownership goals.
Frequently asked questions about getting a mortgage as a non-UK national
While it is possible to get a mortgage with 5% deposit, non-UK citizens will find it more challenging. You will be in a stronger position the longer you have lived in the UK.
If you’ve recently moved to the UK, it will usually take at least 3-6 months to build a good credit score, although it is possible to do so quicker.