Martha Myron

Research and have a plan before you emigrate

  • Things to consider: before you emigrate, research the country you are moving to, including the various regulations on residency, citizenship, taxation, and plan well ahead of your expected moving date

This is the third and final part of the series for Bermuda residents leaving the island, giving relocation references and general timeline guidance. This first and second instalments were published in The Royal Gazette on July 13 and July 20, respectively.

Cup Match weekend is a tradition for the ages, and it continues. But this year may be the last Cup Match good time for those planning to leave this precious place.

No matter the reason for going, for those of us with roots of limestone and the sea of our iconic island embedded deep into the core of our lives, “parting is such sweet sorrow,” ΰ la Shakespeare.

Plan first!

The decision to emigrate requires serious considerations. Individuals and families need to have a very clear cross-border financial plan and timeline in place before the big transition.

Start with internet research; social network with those gone before; allow adequate time for decisions and changes in financial strategies. Seek qualified credentialled international professional advice if you cannot find answers. I emphasise this heavily — reliance on friends and family narratives are not you or your financial situation.

Get it right the first time. It will be stressful enough relocating without having to deal with inadvertent, expensive tax and financial mistakes.

Here are some key planning factors (not inclusive) and references for the five most affinity-linked countries. Space does not permit links to Costa Rica, Panama, Florianopolis/Brazil, New Zealand and Europe, which are all popular places where many Bermuda islanders have resettled communities. Costa Rica alone has more than 150 former Bermuda families.

Where will you relocate?

• The big question. Do they want you? Countries have immigrant quotas, some more generous than others.

• Can you live there, permanently?

• Avoid disappointment. Research everything: language, culture, taxes, legal rights, healthcare, retirement/pension benefits, ownership, finances, licensing, transportation, cost of living, and many government regulations.

How will you get there?

• Entry into new country via government programmes, relatives, employment, business connections?

• What visas/permits needed?

• How, or are you being sponsored?

• Have the applications already been filed, when, and where? Timing for entry/residency acceptance is everything here — relative to taxation (or not) by new jurisdiction.

• Entry/Exit. Can you come back if you change your mind?

Will your status be different?

What is your residency, domicile and potential citizenship status?

• Have you been in and out of the new country intermittently already?

• Are you tracking stays for how long and when? Tax revenue agencies may use prior visits and time spent as part of a tax liability assessment. Be very careful here.

• Residency categorisations vary by country, e.g. Canada uses a combination of points including day counting, significant connections and attachments and others.

• Domicile. Keeping your original domicile or renouncing — not clarifying can affect income and estate planning.

• Connections and path to citizenship ties: Parent(s), grandparent(s), marriage?

Finances — review all current positions carefully.

Research the new country’s tax structures that will impact your pre-emigration earned income and assets.

• Cash. Convert, compliance, new country account openings, foreign exchange.

• Investments: prohibited, low-cost basis, market timing for liquidation.

• Real property; renting, selling, settled in foreign trust.

• Pensions; leave, liquidate, transportable.

• Insurance: non or compliant life, and possible annuities.

• Wills and estates. Not recognised, windup, or two-country wills execution.

• Foreign trust treatment by new country tax authority.

• Local debit/credit cards: keep, close out — possible AML complications from transferring monies held in Bermuda to another jurisdiction, if not reported.

• Business: sell, keep as shareholder, foreign company tax issues?

• Leaving income-generating assets in Bermuda? Reporting worldwide income is mandated by all of these countries.

Why emigrate?

The latest Royal Gazette survey says it all, it is because of the cost of living according to more than 76 per cent of the 3,000 survey takers.

Here are some useful references and links for a number of popular relocation destinations. All reference and links were current as at the start of this month.

UNITED STATES

Immigration: How to Enter the US. https://www.usa.gov/enter-us

Residency: Green Cards and Permanent Residence in the US. https://www.usa.gov/green-cards

Citizenship: Guide to Naturalisation Process. https://tinyurl.com/y3bxfwee

How to apply for US citizenship. https://www.usa.gov/become-us-citizen

Taxation. US Internal Revenue Service. https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers

• EY 2018-19 Worldwide Personal Tax and Immigration Guide — US. https://tinyurl.com/y5z2r4bm

UNITED KINGDOM

Residency and domicile rules defined. HMRC Revenue & Customs. https://tinyurl.com/y49aujmr

Citizenship. Citizenship and living in the UK https://www.gov.uk/browse/citizenship/citizenship

Immigration. Visas and immigration. https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration

• https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules

Taxation. Welcome to GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/browse/tax

• HMRC Revenue & Customs https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs

• EY 2018-19 Worldwide Personal Tax and Immigration Guide — UK. https://tinyurl.com/y4aslmu6

CANADA

Residency. Determining residency status. https://tinyurl.com/y8ozs9d7

• Applying for permanent residence. https://tinyurl.com/y2h2lkk7

Domicile. Home is Where the ... Domicile is? September 2018 | Dwight D. Dee, Kathryn Gullason. https://tinyurl.com/y5839tml

• Immigration to Canada. https://tinyurl.com/y7l73lm6

Citizenship. Apply to become a Canadian citizen. https://tinyurl.com/y33fv5wx

Taxation. Canada Revenue Agency https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency.html

• EY 2018-19 Worldwide Personal Tax and Immigration Guide — Canada. https://tinyurl.com/y6pkcdkp

AUSTRALIA

Residency. Apply for permanent residency https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/permanent-resident

Domicile. The Australian Domicile Test. https://tinyurl.com/y59p8jnx

Citizenship. https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/citizenship/become-a-citizen

Immigration. https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/

Taxation. Australian Taxation Office. https://www.ato.gov.au/

• EY 2018-19 Worldwide Personal Tax and Immigration Guide — Australia. https://tinyurl.com/yygcexkq

AZORES (PORTUGAL)

Residency. Applying for residency in Portugal. https://imigrante.sef.pt/en/solicitar/

• Living in the Azores. https://tinyurl.com/y3ruw3ce

• Domicile and succession. https://tinyurl.com/yxdr8qb4

Citizenship. Seven changes in Portuguese nationality law. https://tinyurl.com/y5jtwbru

Immigration. Official Website. https://www.sef.pt/en/Pages/homepage.aspx

Taxation. Portuguese Tax Authority. https://tinyurl.com/y54wndzq

• EY 2018-19 Worldwide Personal Tax and Immigration Guide — Azores/Portugal. https://tinyurl.com/y3a87cju

Broader references

Wikipedia for all countries under taxation, immigration, domicile, citizenship and residency.

Readers, the firms and individuals listed below are for information purposes and not endorsed by me. Always consider locating and working with a licensed CPA or CFP, Certified Financial Planner, a mark recognised worldwide.

Planning and taxation help

UK. The Fry Group https://www.thefrygroup.co.uk/

US. Planning and taxation. Robert Baldwin, CPA, Baldwin & Associates, Charleston US http://baldwincpa.com/

Canada. Michael Atlas CA https://taxca.com/areas-of-practice/#bound

Portugal. Forth Capital https://www.forthcapital.com/tax-advice/tax-planning-portugal/

Bermuda taxation accountants: EY, KPMG, Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers.

One more thing to keep in mind. Emigrating to another country means that not everyone says “Good morning!”

You are in their country now — you are the foreigner.

• Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Dual citizen: Bermudian/US. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders and their globally mobile connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Finance columnist to the Royal Gazette, Bermuda. All proceeds earned from this column go to The Reading Clinic. Contact: martha.myron@gmail.com