You want to buy a home one day, but before you plant any roots here in the UK, you fancy spending a bit of time in another country  — can you keep saving for a home in your LISA while you’re away?

As with all things Lifetime ISAs, there’s lots to unpack 🧳

You have to be a UK resident to open and keep contributing to a Lifetime ISA

Even if you’re a British citizen and hold a British passport, you might not be a UK resident. This is because your residency status depends on the tax you pay here in the UK. And the tax you pay gets a lil’ more complicated when you move abroad or travel a lot.

What counts as a UK resident? 🇬🇧

You’re considered a UK resident if:

  • You spent 183 or more days in the UK in the tax year (which runs April–April)
  • You have a home in the UK (rented or owned) for longer than 90 days (and you stayed in it for at least 30 days in a row)
  • You worked full-time in the UK for any period within the tax year (even as little as 1 day)

You’re usually a non-UK resident if:

  • You spent fewer than 16 days in the UK (or 46 days if you have not been a UK resident for the 3 previous tax years)
  • You worked abroad full-time (averaging at least 35 hours a week)
  • You spent fewer than 91 days in the UK within the tax year (and you spent less than 30 days working)

There are some exceptions (e.g. you’re in the armed forces and get stationed or deployed abroad). If you’re unsure which category you fall into, you can use HMRC’s online residence checker.

I'm @eodiin on Instagram
Photo by Erik Odiin / Unsplash

What happens to my Lifetime ISA if I’m not a UK resident?

Let’s say you want to go travelling for 2 years and you leave the UK in February. From the new tax year (which starts in April) you won’t be able to add money to your LISA until you’re back in the UK as a UK resident.

You have to tell your LISA provider that you’re no longer a UK resident. While you’re away, you can keep your LISA open, and all the money you have in there (bonus, investments and all) will stay where it is, but any other payments will be on pause.

Moving to the USA 🇺🇸? Some LISA providers (including us) aren’t able to offer financial services to US residents because of certain American tax rules. For this reason, you might have to close your account (which means you’ll pay the government’s 25% early withdrawal fee). If you keep your LISA open while you live in the US, you’ll be taxed by the IRS on all money you hold in your account, including your bonus and any return on investments.

What happens to my Lifetime ISA if I travel a lot, but I’m still a UK resident?

As long as you continue to tick all the boxes which make you a UK resident, you can keep paying into your Lifetime ISA as normal.

Adventure in the mountains
Photo by Holly Mandarich / Unsplash

What if I change my mind about buying a home in the UK?

After spending time abroad, you’ve realised this is more than just a visit. So what happens to your Lifetime ISA?

🏝️ You can’t buy a home abroad with a Lifetime ISA

To buy a home with a Lifetime ISA, the property has to be here in the UK and it has to be your first home.

Your first home anywhere.

Even if you bought a place abroad without your Lifetime ISA, you wouldn’t be able to use your LISA to buy a home in the UK if you wanted to move back in the future.

👵 You could keep your Lifetime ISA for retirement

Lifetime ISAs are designed to help people save for a home, or for retirement. So if you don’t want to buy a home with your LISA, but know you want to retire in the UK someday, you could use it as a booster for your pension.

Just remember, you have to be a UK resident to save or invest in your Lifetime ISA, which means you couldn’t put money towards your LISA retirement fund while you’re living abroad.

🏧 You could withdraw all your money

If you decide that the UK just isn’t for you, or you want to use some of the money in your LISA to extend your travels, you can withdraw all of your money from your account.

However — if you’re not using your LISA to buy a home or retire here in the UK, the government will charge you a 25% early withdrawal fee. This means you’ll lose the LISA bonus (25%), plus you’d also have to pay the government an extra £6.25 for every £100 you’re taking out of your account.

A Lifetime ISA that flexes around you

Saving for a home takes time, and in that time, you might decide to travel or change jobs or whatever. So, you need a Lifetime ISA that’s flexible.

That’s why we’ve made it SO easy for you to make changes to your LISA in the Nude app.

  • Edit the date and amount you put into your LISA every month
  • Top up your LISA with one-off contributions when you get some extra cash
  • Skip a month if you need to save your money for other things, like diving on the Great Barrier Reef...

Whenever you’re ready to get back on track, we’ve got a bunch of features that can help you buy a home in record time 🚀

  • Time to Buy — Track your progress by how long, not just how much
  • Ideas — Money-saving ideas and challenges, personalised to you
  • Team Up — The hassle-free way to save for a home together
  • Gift Link — Friends & family can send you money for your first home
  • Monthly Giveaways — Win £££ towards your first home in the Nude app

Join 300,000+ first-time buyers in the UK  and install Nude on the App Store and Android.