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Mortgages for non-UK citizens

If you are not a UK citizen, but you are based in the UK and would like to take out a mortgage in the UK, this article is for you!

At PIL Southampton, our experienced team of specialist mortgage advisers can guide you through the process. They understand the market, know which lenders to approach, and are always efficient and easy to talk to.

Let’s answer some of the questions non-UK citizens most commonly ask us about getting a mortgage in the UK.


Can a non-UK citizen get a mortgage? 

Yes, you can. The process may be slightly more complicated, and the interest rates may be a little higher, but it’s certainly possible. Not all lenders offer foreign national or expat mortgages, however, so you will have fewer options to choose from.

This article focuses on foreign nationals who are living in the UK and want to apply for a mortgage with a UK lender, secured against a UK-based property.


What are the requirements to get a mortgage in the UK if you are a non-UK citizen? 

For EU citizens 

Generally, lenders treat EU citizens just like UK citizens, which usually makes it easier for them to apply than non-EU citizens. They will want to see that you have been an EU citizen for at least three years, and that you have built up a good credit history in the UK, so the longer you have lived and worked here the stronger your application will be. 

Although it is advisable to have been living and working here for at least one year before you apply for a mortgage, we recommend three years. 

You will need to have a UK bank account with direct debits and a mobile phone contract coming out of it, and a permanent job in the UK is preferable to some lenders. 

Being registered to vote, if you are eligible to, will also be looked on favourably by mortgage lenders, as will showing that you are keeping up with all the forms of credit you have.


Post-Brexit changes

EEA citizens, EU citizens and Swiss nationals applying to get a mortgage in the UK need to provide evidence of their ‘settled’ or ‘pre-settled’ status. Settled status is usually granted once you have lived in the UK for a continuous five-year period and is also known as ‘continuous residence’. Pre-settled status is granted if you haven’t lived continuously in the UK for five years.


For non-EU citizens 

If you are a non-EU citizen, you will have to meet additional criteria and go through a more complicated process when you apply for a mortgage.

Being resident in the UK for at least two years by the time you apply for a mortgage, and having a permanent job, UK bank account and visa, will give you better access to more lenders and increase your chances of being approved for a mortgage.

Lenders generally favour a residence permit over a work-only permit, but some lenders will consider applicants who only have a work permit. 

Some lenders will also consider applicants who don’t have permanent UK-based employment but are self-employed or on a fixed-term contract.

If you don’t have ‘indefinite leave to remain’ status, you will need to have one of the following visas: Tier 2 work visa, Tier 5 work visa, Student visa, UK Ancestry visa, Residence Card or Family visa.


Can I get a mortgage without indefinite leave to remain status? 

Many people without ‘indefinite leave to remain’ status apply for mortgages in the UK. You could be a student, self-employed professional, UK-employed individual or property investor looking to finance the purchase of a property to live in or to rent out.

Your ability to get a mortgage in the UK will depend on various factors, but the length of time you have left on your visa will have a significant impact on their decision to approve your mortgage application or not.


How long do I need on my visa to apply for a mortgage in the UK? 

Generally, the longer the better. 

The less time you have on your work visa, the more vulnerable you are to not being able to work and therefore not be able earn money and keep up with your monthly repayments, making you a much higher risk to the lender.

Most lenders like to see a visa with more than three years left to run on it and, if not, then at least one to two years left on your visa, as this gives them more confidence that you will be able to meet your payments.

A family visa can be a good option if you are married, or you have blood relatives in the UK. This is because it gives you the flexibility of making a joint application.


Can I apply for a mortgage if my tier 2 visa is about to run out? 

It is less likely that your mortgage application will be approved if your work visa is about to run out, unless you have high affordability, a permanent or long-term job, and a traceable credit history. 

Lenders who approve a mortgage to applicants whose type 2 visa is about to run out may ask for a higher deposit, ranging from 20%-40%, to reduce the chance of them making a loss if you left the UK and defaulted on your mortgage. 


How much can I borrow on a mortgage as a non-UK citizen? 

It depends on your individual circumstances, and all the relevant criteria like how long you’ve lived in the UK, the size of your deposit, your credit history, the stability of your income and the type of property you are looking to buy.

However, you are likely to be able to borrow more with a specialist lender than with a main, high-street lender. A high-street lender only focuses on an annual salary to calculate the amount they will lend, whereas a specialist lender looks at a wider range of income sources and overall net worth.

Most lenders will ask for a higher deposit. The exact percentage will vary, but it could be at least 20%.


Can I get a mortgage without indefinite leave to remain if I have bad credit? 

It is always worth applying, as people are often surprised they are accepted for a mortgage even if they have bad credit, especially if they are an EU national.

This is because the UK recognises EU credit reports which, if the applicant has a traceable credit history, gives lenders access to information about how reliably they have paid back loans in the past, which makes it easier for them to decide how low or high risk that applicant is likely to be.

As with any applicant, a low credit score is likely to result in a higher interest rate for your mortgage offer. 

Even if you are a non-EU citizen with a bad credit history, you still might be able to secure a mortgage in the UK. Every situation is unique and you don’t know until you try!


What’s the best way to find a mortgage without indefinite leave to remain? 

This is a specialist area and it can be difficult to find mortgage products online and via comparison sites. We recommend that you speak to an experienced mortgage adviser who will know which lenders to approach on your behalf.


How PIL Southampton can help you 

Our specialist team of mortgage advisers is very knowledgeable and experienced in helping to guide non-UK residents through the mortgage application process.  

We will take the time to get to know you and your individual circumstances, using that information to reach out to the lenders that we feel are best suited to your situation and hopefully achieve a successful outcome for you.


How you can contact PIL Southampton

Our expert mortgage advisers are here to guide you through the mortgage process, every step of the way. You can email us, fill out the contact form on our website or call us on 02380 668407. We look forward to hearing from you.