Wealthy UK Citizens Leaving UK in Record Numbers

by | Jul 19, 2023

Image by pch.vector on Freepik

Wealthy UK citizens are exiting the UK in greater numbers than from any European country, and even Russia. 

The UK and the USA are the traditional residence choices of the wealthy. However, now, the deteriorating security, political, taxation, and economic aspects of these countries are becoming less inviting. As a result, affluent families are diversifying their residences. Alternate residences help lower their tax burden. Additionally, they help protect their economic mobility, lifestyles, wealth, and legacies. 

Henley & Partners, a leading ‘residence and citizenship by investment’ service, reveals that the number of enquiries they’ve received from UK investors is more than double the number of enquiries they’ve received from any other nationality in Europe between January and the end of April 2023. 

In fact, Britain is forecast to lose 3,200 high net worth individuals in 2023, according to June’s Henley Private Wealth Migration Report 2023. Surprisingly, that number beats Russia’s reported 3,000. The only countries to have a bigger exodus of HNWIs are China and India. 

In 2022, 557,000 British passport holders emigrated out of the UK. It is estimated that 20% of those would have become higher-rate income taxpayers by 2027. 

Why are UK HNWIs leaving? 

The wealthy are referred to as ‘High Net Worth Individuals’ (HNWI) and defined as those who have at least USD 1 million in investable wealth.

Non-domiciled Tax Relief 

By securing residency in another country, a wealthy UK citizen hopes to reduce their taxes by becoming ‘non-domiciled’. A non-domiciled taxpayer in the UK is always subject to UK tax on any UK-based income and gains. However, any non-UK income or gains are not liable to UK tax unless remitted to the UK.  

Although the rules around remittance are complicated, most wealthy ‘non-doms’ subject to the remittance basis can live in the UK without remitting much of any foreign income or gains (Chartered Institute of Taxation). 

The Labour Party has stated an intention to ‘abolish non-dom status’ if they form a government after the next general election. 


As Britian’s economy struggles, the government looks to taxes to help raise funds. Subsequently, wealthy payers see their assets being taxed at higher rates. Recent tax increases include: 


The threshold when the highest earners start paying the top rate of income tax is now £125,140, down from £150,000. So, more people now pay a higher tax. 


Investors are also affected. The annual tax-free allowance for dividends is now halved from £2,000 to £1,000. 

Likewise, the annual exemption amount for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) is also cut, from £12,300 to £6,000.   


Even savings are included in the tax hikes. This year, taxpayers in the higher rate bracket must pay 40% in tax on any interest they earn above £500. Consequently, those trying to take advantage of higher interest rates on their savings are taxed on the additional interest they earn. 


Stuart Wakeling, a managing partner at Henley & Partners, said, “We’ve got more British clients than ever before. [We have seen an] untold increase in demand in what we do from Brits because they are not happy about being outside the EU.” 

The company recorded a 344% increase in applications for its EU programs from UK citizens between 2020 and 2021 in the wake of Brexit.  


Sunita Singh-Dalal, partner, Private Wealth & Family Offices at Hourani, says, “The recent unsettling British ‘Non-Dom debate’ triggered by unprecedented political volatility, coupled with rising debt, a dysfunctional healthcare system, high crime rates, and a general sense of lingering malaise, has clearly tarnished the lustre of London.” 

Where are the HNWIs going? 

The programs wherein individuals or families apply for residency or citizenship in another country are often called Golden Visa programs. Each country requires a different minimum amount that must be invested in that country. 

Australia is the number one country for HNWIs, reclaiming the top spot it had before Covid restrictions. 

Other top destinations include Portugal, Austria, St. Kitts and Nevis, Canada, Italy, Greece, Spain, and Malta. 

As an example, Malta is considered a low-tax jurisdiction with a top tax rate of 35%. Its program requires an investment of €738,000 for a minimum residence period of 36 months or €888,000 for a minimum of 12 months. 

Many Programs Ending 

The status of Golden Visa programs is quite fluid now. The EU is calling for member states to stop selling citizenship to investors. Hence, many countries are now looking to end their programs or toughen the requirements. 

“High-net-worth individuals are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of building optionality in times of volatility. Diversification of residence or citizenship is now as relevant as being multi-banked. Some programs in our region are closing or threatening to close. Enquiries regarding these specific programs have increased dramatically. Many investors are doing their best to apply before the changes are implemented,” says Stuart Wakeling, managing partner at Henley & Partners and the head of the firm’s London office. 

Portugal’s golden visa program ended this year, as has Ireland’s. Additionally, Greece has announced that effective 1 August 2023, the real estate investment requirement will double to USD 500,000 in certain parts of the country. Spain’s program is currently under examination. 

Heightened Concerns 

“[There are concerns about] security, money-laundering, tax evasion and corruption risks for both the member state concerned and the EU as a whole”, says Anitta Hipper, spokesperson for EC home affairs, which is responsible for EU migration, borders and security policy. 

To be sure, the war in Ukraine has also heightened concerns that these schemes could be a security risk. 

See also:

Powerful Passports in 2023

Discover Europe: 5 Hidden Gems Paying Expats to Move There

Aisa International

Aisa International, s.r.o. is a wealth management firm with an award-winning team who provides investment advice, financial planning, and asset management for U.S., U.K., and E.U. expatriate citizens residing abroad. Holding all current regulatory licenses, including the FCA license in the UK and the Investment Licence in the European Union, Aisa International is uniquely qualified to provide personal financial advice for U.K. pensioners living outside of the U.K. Headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic, Aisa International serves its global clients where they reside through its OpesFidelio network of highly-qualified advisors. For more information, please visit www.asiainternational.cz.

The views expressed in this article are not to be construed as personal advice. Therefore, you should contact a qualified, and ideally, regulated adviser in order to obtain up-to-date personal advice with regard to your own personal circumstances. Consequently, if you do not, then you are acting under your own authority and deemed “execution only”. The author does not accept any liability for people acting without personalised advice, who base a decision on views expressed in this generic article. Importantly, where this article is dated then it is based on legislation as of the date. Legislation changes but articles are rarely updated, although sometimes a new article is written; so, please check for later articles or changes in legislation on official government websites, as this article should not be relied on in isolation.

Follow us on Social Media

Post written by:

Susan Austin

Susan Austin is a freelance writer living in Prague, Czech Republic. Originally from the U.S., she has written for and worked in many industries, including healthcare, transportation, travel and leisure, museums, education, personal finance, and archaeology.

Aisa International is the only financial advice service company specialising in advice for expats that is regulated as a Securities Trader in the Czech Republic, USA, and UK.