What American expats need to do when returning to the U.S.
You are on your way back to the United States after spending some time living outside the country. No matter what takes you back, the first step is always to establish yourself financially and set up the necessary needs. I’d suggest keeping the following in mind as you make the move back:
U.S. citizens have to pay taxes to the IRS. You are required to do this if you are living in the United States or outside of it, depending on your specific income taxes. Returning to the United States means you’ll need to file your income tax return each year again, regardless of how much income you make. Be sure to discuss your case with your tax accountant.
Moving investments back to the U.S. is an option but not always necessary. If you plan to do so, you’ll want to take the time to investigate a variety of different financial institutions to determine which is the most affordable method of moving funds. For retirement accounts, you’ll need to meet the requirements of any transfer timeframe to ensure you are not taxed heavily. Work with an investment firm that has ample experience in this area.
Update your life insurance plans. Ensure they include your new information as well as beneficiary documentation. You’ll want to ensure that your life insurance policies continue to meet your financial needs, too, which may mean increasing them as needed.
Now that you are back in the United States, you likely have an up-to-date passport, but have you updated your driver’s license or state ID? These are important steps to take as well. Be sure that you have the proper documentation to do this. As an expat, you may not have local utility bills yet to establish that driver’s license, but most state-issued identification will in fact provide options to you as long as you have an up-to-date passport from the U.S.
Are you still a U.S. citizen? If you are not sure about this, visit the U.S. embassy in the country you are currently living in, assuming you are still out of the country. The embassy will tell you what steps you need to take to reinstate your citizenship if that is a requirement. It may depend on the length of time you remained outside the country and whether you took citizenship of another country in the process.
In some cases, you may need to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. if you are not still an American citizen. In doing so, you’ll need to meet all requirements; for example, note the length of time that you can remain in the U.S. Tourism visas, for example, are not the same as work visas. In some cases, you may have to wait a while before you can obtain this information. Again, the U.S. embassy in the country you are living in is going to provide you with the best information on obtaining any necessary visas.
Finding a home is an important step, of course. You’ll want to work with a real estate agent if you plan to buy in the U.S. If you plan to rent, it may be easier to do so initially. Even if you are a foreign citizen, you still have the ability to purchase real estate in the U.S. in most situations.
Bills and Commitments
When you are back in the United States, you’ll need to establish yourself. Whether it is for utilities or new loans, you’ll go through the same process of application as you may have done previously. Just make sure you keep all of your financial documents to show what your income is and what your assets are worth.
Moving back to the United States as an expat is a process of re-establishing yourself. It could be the ideal opportunity for you to build your life in the U.S. again, but the process does take time. I’d recommend that you work closely with the U.S. embassy, the local governmental agencies, plus experienced cross-border financial experts, who have a presence in both the country where you are leaving as well as the United States, in order to get the process completed.
Blog published by Mike Coady.