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Leaving the House

If you leave a house empty for a prolonged period to go cruising, the headings below suggest things to consider. For more than 90 days away, bigger subjects arise, covered at the end of this list.

House Insurance

Your house insurance will define limits on how long the property can be left unattended, often a month, sometimes 60 days. Speak with your insurers. There will be conditions about turning water, gas and electricity off, or alternatively, leaving central heating on to maintain minimum temperatures. Some will provide extended cover if the property is inspected regularly, say weekly, and if proper attention is paid to security.


The police crime prevention website gives excellent advice about minimising burglary risks while you're not at home. This includes security features to consider for doors and windows. and security checklists for those leaving a house unoccupied. Add to all of this the simple warning: don't publish dates when you're away if your address can be traced; think Facebook, blogs and other websites. A very short summary would be to say, "make your house look occupied".

Post and Deliveries

Royal Mail 'Keepsafe' will store mail for up to 2 months. For absences of 6 months or more, re-direct your mail to a suitable address. Cancel any deliveries (milk, newspaper). Discourage free newspapers and circulars with a message by the post box, and have a neighbour clear the post box area regularly for those bits which do arrive.

Money Matters

Ensure Bills are paid while you’re away; stick everything on direct debits. Check when insurance renewals are due, TV licence, Road tax. For road tax, if your car is left off-road for a period, your have the option of making a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) declaration. This permits a refund for any whole months already paid for.

Internet banking services are invaluable for long absences. In the Eurozone, if cash consumption is more than €5,000 pa, consider opening a Euro account with a debit card. Transfers from your bank can then be made at favourable exchange rates through currency brokers (google 'currency brokers') rather than high street bank rates. In emergency, you may suddenly need a lot of cash at short notice. Ensure you have an adequate bank balance, or put an overdraft facility in place.

Take international phone numbers to contact in case of loss of bank cards, credit cards, with a note of the account numbers.

Obtain cash abroad using debit cards (credit cards charge high interest immediately). Consider a second bank account and debit card in case your first card gets "locked out" and you need cash. Some English cards can not be used in automated French machines. Most banks make a charge for cash services of £2 to £4, so make large transactions. This is a competitive field, so check the Money Saving Expert Site to find good suppliers.

Don't buy cash at airport currency desks. They may say "No Commission", but the exchange rates offered are 10% or more below inter-bank rates.

Taking the Car Abroad?

Check period of insurance cover. Many insurers limit EU cover to 90 days. Ensure you know the international contact numbers. Check insurance covers what you will do; will it be insured when 'not in use' by being parked while you're away on the boat? Take all documents with you (registration, third party insurance certificate, original insurance policy). EU rules allow that your car may be "temporarily imported" to another country for up to 6 months (sometimes interpreted as 180 days). More than that and the vehicle should pay local taxes. Overstays may face fines. 

Travel Insurance

'Travel Insurance' often covers many aspects which are not relevant to someone arranging their own travel. So work out what you really need, and make sure the period insured is adequately long, and isn't prematurely terminated if you return temporarily ( a family emergency . . .). It is necessary to examine the small print carefully.  Take documents with you, and ensure you know the international contact numbers.

A risk that many wish to cover is repatriation to the UK in the event of serious illness/accident.

Keeping in Touch

Things change rapidly in the field of modern communications, so this is just a list of headings to consider:

  • Home Telephone. A voicemail service or answerphone which enables you to check for, listen to and then delete any voicemail messages left on your home phone while you’re abroad may be suitable.
  • Text messages through your mobile are a highly reliable means of keeping in contact, and inexpensive when abroad. Great for agreeing on Skype call timing.
  • Telephone Numbers. Obtain internationally available phone numbers for your bank, insurance companies etc. Some 08xx numbers aren't accessible from overseas 
  • Mobile Voice or Data services. Local SIM cards, services and 'roaming' services are a rapidly changing field. Local SIM cards have been far more economical than roaming. However, by June 2017 roaming charges within the EU should be abolished.
  • email. Internet access is common throughout Europe. If your internet service supplier (ISP) allows web access to your email, there's no need to cart a computer around. Alternatively, arrange your email to be forwarded to an on-line free web mail address (ie, google mail).
  • MiFi local hub - makes you independent of local WiFi services
  • Both mains powered, and 12v powered charger, to charge your various electronic devices. Multiple USB outputs are very useful.
  • Skype Account, for when you have cheap data connection

Take with you:

  • Passport, check the expiry date. Take a copy of the picture page in case of loss. 
  • Landline/mobile numbers and email addresses of people holding keys to your home.
  • Driving licence (for car hire).
  • Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) -  and make sure it is up to date
  • Regular medications you may need (you can't obtain more than 90 days supply)
  • Spare pair of spectacles, if you wear them.
  • If you wish: Guide books and dictionaries/phrase books for the countries you plan to visit.

More Than 90 Days Away?

  • Selling up home? Maintain an address in the UK.  You may also need to register with a GP there.
  • Medical: Your GP and local trust are the gateway and purse string holder for NHS treatment.  Maintain the link with your GP if at all possible.
  • Bank accounts: when you have no proper address with linked utility bills, maybe only a little income, it will become almost impossible to open new accounts or deal with the banking community on level terms. Set up all the arrangements you think you might need before you set out.  And create if possible a cash cushion that you can draw on.
  • General Power of Attorney: consider who you might be able to give General Power of Attorney (GPA) to, either a friend or professional whom you trust. This can help resolve home issues remotely. Banks normally insist on their own format. Register the GPA in advance with any companies, etc. where it may be invoked.
  • Wills: it goes without saying that there is some slight risk attached, and wills should be made or updated before you sail away. Consider Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) to each other and to trustees, so that the wills may be varied if necessary. Remember the increased possibility that a couple may die within days of each other.

Boat Stuff

Beyond the scope of this page. See http://www.jimbsail.info/going-foreign/boat-prep

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Updated May 2018


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