Is ISA only for UK citizens?

Written by
Eszter Z.
Fact checked by
Adam N.
Updated
11h ago

If you live in the UK, you most probably heard of ISAs (individual savings accounts), which are a great tool to grow your savings tax-free. But are they only available to UK citizens?

The short answer is no. You are eligible if you live in the UK but you are not a subject of His Majesty King Charles III, as a British citizen. Let’s dive into the details!

THE ESSENCE

  • To open any type of ISA, you need to be a resident of the UK
  • This basically means that you have spent 183 or more days in the UK in the tax year
  • If you move out of the UK, you can hold onto your ISA, but cannot add money into it

Our expert team here at BrokerChooser specialises in making sense of a complicated financial world. We have done all the work for you, saving you hours of research, and reviewed brokers based on BrokerChooser's unique methodology.

Here are our top recommendations for the Best stocks and shares ISA providers.

Who is a UK resident?

Whether you qualify as a UK resident usually depends on how many days you spend in the UK in a tax year (6 April to 5 April the next year).

You may be resident in the UK, if:

  • You have spent 183 or more days in the UK in the tax year
  • Your only home was in the UK for 91 days or more in a row, and you visited or stayed in it for at least 30 days of the tax year
  • You worked full-time in the UK for any period of 365 days and at least one day of that period was in the tax year you’re checking
  • You spend a number of days in the UK and have additional ties to the UK, such as work or family

 

You will not be treated as a 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 (at least 35 hours a week on average), and spent fewer than 91 days in the UK, of which no more than 30 were spent working

If you are unsure, the UK government has a website where you can check if you qualify. 

 

To be able to open an ISA, you need to be a UK resident, or a so-called Crown servant – for example a serving in the diplomatic or overseas civil service, if you do not live in the UK, plus their spouse or civil partner also qualifies. However, you cannot hold an ISA with or on behalf of someone else.

What if you have lived in the UK but moved abroad?

If you opened an ISA in the UK and then later moved to another country, you will not be able to put money into the account following the tax year of your move (unless you are a Crown employee or their spouse/civil partner). Normally, you can contribute up to £20,000 to your ISA accounts in one tax year. Be aware that you must tell your ISA provider if you stop being a UK resident.

The good news is that you can keep your ISA open and still get UK tax relief on the money and investments held in it after you cease to be a UK resident. You can also transfer an ISA to another provider even if you are not a resident of the UK. You can start paying into your ISA again if you become a UK resident. 

In short, you do not have to be a British citizen to have an ISA. 

Congratulations on taking the first step toward financial independence and responsibility! Using our expertise, we have selected the most suitable brokers for opening an ISA account.

If you need any guidance, visit the BrokerChooser Community page!

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Author of this article

Eszter Zalán
Eszter Zalán

Eszter is a former Editor and Financial Journalist for BrokerChooser. She wrote and edited BrokerChooser's content from 2021 onwards, bringing her more than a decade-long experience in journalism to the team. She has covered world affairs and several financial crises, and dove deep into SEO and coding to make BrokerChooser's content more accessible to users.

Everything you find on BrokerChooser is based on reliable data and unbiased information. We combine our 10+ years finance experience with readers feedback. Read more about our methodology.

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