Moving To The UK

Overseas credit reports: Are credit scores international?

Feb 5, 2024

If you’re getting excited about moving abroad, or you’re just about to begin a new life in the UK, credit might not be the first thing on your mind. Things like finding a new place to call home, or settling into a new job, might feel more important right now. But because you often need credit to get phones, bank accounts and for some rental agreements, before long you might be wondering: does your credit score transfer to another country?

So, is there an overseas credit report?

The short answer is no, you don’t have an international credit report. Your credit reports are records of your credit history. They detail how you’ve managed things like borrowing and bills in the past. In the UK, credit reports are generated and held by three credit reference agencies (CRAs): Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. 

The UK credit reference agencies don’t hold information about how you’ve managed money in your home country, or foreign credit reports.That’s because each country has different data protection laws and scoring systems. So Credit Reference Agencies don’t have standardised, international credit reports for individuals. They can only collect data about your borrowing in the country where they are based. If you move abroad, you will essentially be back to square one when it comes to your credit score.

It’s important to note that your credit score is separate from your credit report. Where your report details your activity and is visible to lenders, your credit score is a helpful summary of your overall credit history that is only visible to you. If you want to check your credit history, you can do it for free and without hurting it, using these services:

*Transparency is important to us, we choose our partners very carefully, and only present financial products we think will work for you. If you sign up to ClearScore using the above link, then they will pay us commission for this.

Are credit scores international?

While credit scores and credit reports are separate, if you’re wondering “does my credit score transfer internationally, between countries?”, the answer is, unfortunately, no. That’s because your credit score is generated byCredit Reference Agencies , from the credit report held on you in the UK, so you can’t have a foreign credit score that travels with you abroad.

If you live abroad for a relatively short amount of time, like a year, it’s possible that your UK credit score won’t have changed much when you come back. But if you don’t return for many years, then you’ll have a gap in your credit history. Without any activity, Credit Reference Agencies are likely to lower your credit score. 

Likewise, if you apply for credit soon after moving abroad, you will probably find that you have a low credit score due to the lack of activity on your account in that country. In both cases, you would need to build your credit history to improve it.  

Does credit history transfer internationally?

So, does your credit score apply internationally? No. There’s no such thing as an international credit score check. But you might sometimes find that lenders will consider reviewing a copy of the credit report from your home country if you give them one. 

It’s important to know that, even though your credit score won’t travel with you,  that doesn’t mean that your debts can’t follow you on your travels. You’ll still be held accountable for any money that you owe in the country you’ve left. While it is more complicated for creditors to take legal action against you while you’re abroad, bear in mind that you’re not immune. Your debts will still be active while you are away and can become more serious. If left unattended, an unpaid debt can become a default on your credit history, or the lender might take legal action to recover the debt. 

What if I am moving to the UK?

If you’re moving to the UK to live for the first time, you’ll be starting your credit history from scratch. Once you begin building up a history of payments you’ll have a credit score, but it will likely be very low to begin with. But try not to be discouraged, it’s possible, and perhaps easier than you think, to boost your credit score.    

Read this helpful blog post to find out how to get credit when you move to the UK.

Quick ways to give your UK credit score a boost

Whether you’re moving to the UK for the first time, or returning after a long time away, you will probably be looking for the fastest, proven ways to build, or rebuild, your credit score. Here are three tips to help you get started: 

1. Set up Direct Debits to pay your utility bills 

If you’re new to the country, paying bills in your name via Direct Debit is one of the simplest ways to build your credit history. This helps to prove your address and shows that you’re able to make regular payments. 

2. Register to vote or, if you can’t, submit a notice of correction

When lenders run credit checks, they review your credit report for proof of your identity and your address. Registering to vote is a great way to prove that you’re a resident in the UK, and can help to build your credit score. 

Only UK citizens can vote in general elections, but did you know that you can still register to vote in local elections if you’re an EU citizen living in the UK, or a qualifying Commonwealth citizen? 

If you can’t register to vote in the UK, you might find it helpful to submit a “notice of correction” to the Credit Reference Agencies. These short, written statements can be added to your credit report to explain any personal situation that could affect your credit report. Lenders might sometimes consider these — alongside the rest of your credit file — when they run a credit check, but it’s not guaranteed. 

You could submit a notice of correction to explain why you’re unable to register to vote, and to reassure lenders that you have leave to remain, settled status or an ongoing citizenship application. If you do, it’s worth sharing the notice with each of the main Credit Reference Agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion

3. Discover simple, proven ways to build your credit score with Loqbox 

Loqbox is the simple way to build your credit score, boost your savings and learn about the UK credit system. We’re the UK’s most trusted credit builder, with over 16k TrustPilot reviews to prove it

With full Loqbox membership, you get access to all of our powerful credit-building tools. For £2.50 a week, you could improve your credit score with all three of the UK’s main Credit Reference Agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. No credit check, no hidden fees, no fuss! 

Improvements to your credit score are not guaranteed

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