Moving Your Residence Abroad: Pros & Cons

Those of you who follow my blog know I try to keep my comments as truthful as possible. I was struggling to find a topic for this week’s post. My mind has been busy with personal issues, so I postponed writing this article until the last minute. However, the events of this weekend gave me the perfect opportunity to discuss a matter I did not talk about before. In this article, I will give you the pros and cons to moving your residence abroad while living in another country.

But what was the moment that sparked this reflection? This weekend in Italy we voted to reduce the number of members in the Parliament, and 7 regions were electing their President. On Sunday morning, I showed up at the polling site and cast my vote. Before leaving my voting cards into their corresponding boxes, I was told I did not have the right to vote for these elections. Turns out, I was scheduled to vote from abroad, even though my residence was moved back to Italy in mid-August. The best part about this was I had to vote for the Parliament reduction from abroad, while voting for the Regional President from my hometown.

If you’re baffled, I was too. This made little sense. How was I supposed to be in both places at the same time? And why didn’t the Home Office update my records in time for the election?

Although it might seem just a minor bump on the road, it is not the first one. I had already had problems with my GP and the National Health System because of my change of residence, so I was not too happy about it. The Officer at the polling site fixed the situation, but it made me wonder whether it’s worth it to change your residence from your country to abroad.


Less hustle for IDs and Official Documents

If you move your residence abroad, you can renew your ID card, driver’s license and passport without having to go back to your country. You can request Official Documents and Certificates, and register Marriages and Official Partnerships.

This point is fundamental. My passport was expiring during the academic year, so I would have had to travel without it until I went back to Italy. However, being registered to the International Register would grant me the right to renew my passport in London, where the Italian Embassy is situated. Luckily, the expiry date was during the Easter Holidays, so I could do all this process while at home, but this aspect would be fundamental.

Support from your Embassy

Your National Embassy knows where you are and can check on you in case of an emergency.

Let’s take the COVID-19 pandemic. In my case, the Italian Embassy would have known I was staying in the UK and I might have needed extra support. This point is true for any other dangerous situation you might encounter while living in another country. The Embassy can also give you legal advice if you were in trouble and provide you with a list of Italian-speaking professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, notaries and others to aid your stay abroad.

Voting from abroad

Although this point was not useful to me, being registered abroad allows you to vote for your National Elections. However, keep in mind some exceptions may apply, such as the one I described above.



According to International European Laws, if you spend over 12 months in another country, you must register to the International Register. It is not specified whether the 12-month period needs to be continuous or not, so here is where you can get confused.

In my case, I study abroad. My program lasts 5 years, so I definitely spend over 12 months in the UK. However, I also move back to Italy for the Holidays, so my time is evenly split between the two countries. Should I apply for it?

Each person’s case and home country laws are different, so check the rules before applying.

You lose some rights in your country

I didn’t gather enough information about this point at the moment of registration, but after applying to the Register you lose some rights in your home country.

Those who have been following my health journey know I am taking a series of tests and have been for months. I went to the hospital for an appointment and discovered I didn’t have the right to see the doctor. The Home Office had completed my registration without telling me, so I lost the right to a GP and the Italian Health System.

You can imagine my disbelief when I found out. It was not stated during registration. My only option for the time being was to move back to my Italian residence and cancel myself from the register. I now have to stay at home, so I cannot risk losing rights in my country.

Before applying to the International Register, consider which rights are going to be revoked in your home country, even temporarily.

Lengthy process

I applied to the Register in September 2019 and got my registration at the end of February 2020. Let’s skip on me not being informed of the successful process, but the matter took 5 months to complete. If you are looking for a quick solution to your problems, the Register is not it.

Let’s say your ID card is expiring while you are abroad and you want to apply to the Register to renew it without having to go back in your country. The registration process is lengthy and depends on several factors, such as the time it takes for the officials to send the documents back and forth. Don’t count on the registration to renew your documents, so keep this in mind.

I revoked my registration in August, so I could resume my right to receive medical care and see a GP. My situation is an exception, because I was not planning to be back to Italy for so long. However, use my example to make your own informed decision.

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