Does Credit Score Move With You to a Foreign Country?

A low-balance credit card can help you build your profile.

A low-balance credit card can help you build your profile.

If you and your other half are in the process of moving to another country, you'll probably be wondering how you'll get credit when you arrive in your new homeland. If you've got a good credit history at home, chances are you'd like to take it with you. If your credit file isn't so stellar, you'll probably be grateful to leave it behind.

Non-Transferable

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on which perspective you're coming from, you can't use your existing credit score in another country. Credit reporting laws differ from nation to nation, according to credit bureau Experian. As such, your credit report from the United States would be of no use to you whatsoever in England, for example. This is despite the fact that two of the largest credit bureaus in the U.S. -- Equifax and Experian -- also operate in the U.K.

Start From Scratch

You'll typically have to start a new credit profile from scratch when you arrive in the country you're going to be living in. Both you and your partner will need to apply for low-balance, high-interest credit cards to get the ball rolling. Once you've shown you can manage your accounts sensibly by making a few payments on time, you'll find it progressively easier to borrow money, especially if you've got a decent income and some savings.

Maintain Home Score

Think twice before closing all your credit accounts in the country you're leaving, even if you're confident you won't be returning. You'll have to start your credit file all over again if things don't work out and you end up coming back having shut all your accounts down. Keep some of your credit card accounts open and use them when you're back home visiting. You could also keep a cheap cell phone contract open for when you're back home. This will also save you a few dollars on roaming fees.

Considerations

If one of your creditors operates in the country you're moving to, ask to transfer your account there. This will give you a head start when it comes to getting your credit established, although not all companies will be happy to do this, especially if you've handled your account poorly in the past. Having high levels of debt could affect any visa application you make. Although customs officials won't pull your credit report, evidence of irresponsible money management could paint you in a negative light. Most countries will look into your financial status to establish that you'll be able to support yourself and won't be a drain on the state once you've moved.

 

About the Author

Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.

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