At the beginning of this year, I began writing a blog for the firm's website reflecting on the growing demand from our Hong Kong based private clients for advice regarding the movement of people and capital to alternative jurisdictions in the wake of the city's 2019 anti-government protests. With the UK being a popular choice for many of them, my blog intended to highlight the associated UK tax and immigration issues that our clients had encountered and the need for proper planning.
These issues quickly took a backseat in February/March when the COVID-19 pandemic took hold globally and ground to a halt international movement. And so, my blog has not seen the light of day…yet.
This may change soon, now that political issues and unrest have returned in Hong Kong as it emerges out of the pandemic. Many families in the region are starting to revisit their original plans to move to and/or invest in the UK again. A rise in UK real estate enquiries has already started as this SCMP article indicates, spurred on by the UK government's announcement last week of plans to grant enhanced UK immigration rights to British National (Overseas) passport holders if the new security law is passed.
It is therefore vital that Hong Kong private clients interested in a move to or investment in the UK seek advice on UK tax and immigration rules at an early stage and, where relevant, put in place robust and appropriate pre-arrival structuring and planning. A few key considerations include: the various UK tax implications for overseas investors in UK real estate; complex considerations for those relocating to the UK and becoming UK tax resident especially if they are non-UK domiciled; and the impact of UK residence on the wider family, dynastic structures and family governance arrangements.
Even though the post-coronavirus world might feel like it's completely changed, these considerations will be more relevant now than ever.
She said the number of inquiries about homes in the UK from Hongkongers has returned to where it was between May 2019 and the end of January, a period during which the city was rocked by violent street protests over a now-abandoned extradition bill. The number of inquiries during those turbulent months was 10 per cent higher than before the extradition bill was introduced.