Mortgages for Foreign Nationals

Get expert advice on the best way to get a mortgage as a foreign national without a UK passport.

Firstly, how long have you been in the UK?

Home Mortgage Application Mortgages For Foreign Nationals

Author: Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

Updated: November 14, 2023

Perhaps you moved to the UK for work and want to put down roots in the form of property?  Maybe you live elsewhere but like the idea of owning a second home or even business premises despite being a non-resident? But can you get a mortgage in the UK if you’re not a British passport holder?

This guide answers that question, explaining exactly who might qualify for a mortgage as a foreign national, how to begin the more complex application process and where to go for assistance.

Can you get a UK mortgage as a foreign national?

Yes, it’s possible. You don’t have to have a UK passport in order to take out a buy-to-let, residential or commercial mortgage. You’ll have to apply for what’s called a foreign national mortgage.

These mortgages are no different in terms of how they operate to a standard mortgage but can be more complex to apply for given lenders generally view overseas borrowers as higher risk. This mortgage type is designed for those who are:

Not UK residents but have either permanent residency or indefinite leave to remain. Not UK citizens and don’t have permanent residency. EU citizens.
Perhaps you work in the UK or are married to a UK citizen and have a corresponding visa. In this case, you can expect to be treated as a British national. Perhaps you live and work in Australia or the U.S. and enjoy visiting the UK. Expect more stringent checks in this scenario but a mortgage is still possible. Pre-Brexit, EU citizens could expect a similar mortgage experience to that of Brits but the process has since become more complex.

Your eligibility for a foreign national mortgage will be based on which of the above categories you fall into as well as whether your home country is on a list of countries deemed acceptable to the lender. If you have any doubts about which category you may fall into, you can always discuss this in more detail with a specialist broker.

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How to get a mortgage as a foreign national

If you think you’d like to apply for a mortgage, there are a series of steps you’ll need to follow.

Check your eligibility

Do you have an acceptable visa? Have you been in the UK long enough? And do you have a big enough deposit?

These are some of the questions you should be asking yourself and research before investing time and resources into a mortgage application (for help and guidance see point 3 below – a broker would certainly be a lot of help here).

If you get in touch we can arrange for a broker we work with, who has experience dealing with mortgages for foreign nationals, contacts you straight away.

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We know it's important for you to have complete confidence in our service, and trust that you're getting the best chance of mortgage approval at the best available rate. We guarantee to get your mortgage approved where others can't - or we'll give you £100*

What are the guidelines?

Unfortunately, not just anyone from anywhere can take out a mortgage in the UK. Lenders need reassurance that, despite not being a UK citizen, you’ll be committed to repaying the loan. To ascertain that, there are a few questions they’ll be asking.

  • What type of visa do you have? Not all visas are acceptable to mortgage lenders. Those on student visas, for example, can be rejected because such a visa implies a short stay but a working visa is more acceptable as it signals a longer-term arrangement.
  • How long is left on the visa? The further away the expiration date is the better the chances of approval as it implies you’ll be in the country long enough to be committed to the property.
  • How long have you been in the UK so far? It’s not unusual for lenders to stipulate that an applicant must have been in the UK for over a year. Some lenders even state a five year minimum.
  • Where will the money for repayments come from? If you derive a salary from UK employment or self-employment, that will work in your favour. If you plan to remain living overseas and use foreign income for the repayments, the country, currency and company you work for will influence approval as well as interest rate.

Certain lenders may also have their own criteria applicants would have to meet. For example, some lenders only loan to those from a pre-set list of countries, have stipulations about the level of spoken English and instil minimum income requirements and maximum loan to value (LTV) ratios. As with any mortgage application lenders will also be looking at your deposit, income type and the property in question while conducting more stringent checks on your income, expenditure and credit history.

European Union citizens

As it stands, being a citizen of a country within the EU allows you to enjoy the same mortgage options as Brits if you’ve lived in the UK for over two years and have a permanent job in the country. However, there could be some changes to this arrangement as the effects of Brexit continue to unfold. If you want to find out more, it may be worthwhile contacting a broker.

Interest rates on foreign national mortgages

Seen as a riskier product, interest rates for non-UK resident mortgages tend to be higher than on other mortgage types. They usually lie between 3% and 6%. You’ll likely be at the higher end if you have bad credit, a smaller deposit and an inconsistent or overseas income.

Which lenders will consider your application?

High street lenders such as Barclays, Natwest and HSBC are among the banks that lend to foreign nationals. They do, however, have their own specific requirements that must be met. For example, HSBC will only loan to those with a minimum income of £75,000 and a 75% or lower LTV, Barclays requires a minimum £100,000 or currency equivalent in savings or investments and Halifax only offers mortgages to those who have been in the country longer than five years.

Aside from the well-known lenders, there are also a multitude of lenders that specialise in UK mortgages for non-citizens. Their rates and criteria for applicants will differ but the brokers we work with are familiar with the foreign national mortgage market and will be able to share which lender might be best suited to you.

Speak to a broker who specialises in foreign national mortgages

Trying to obtain a mortgage is a difficult enough process without trying to do it in a country where you’re considered a foreigner. In this scenario, expert guidance is almost a necessity.

Specialised brokers matched to your specific needs can help you understand the nuances of the UK lending market while breaking down the various criteria you’ll need to meet and the paperwork needed to support an application based on your visa type. The brokers we work with operate in this space on a daily basis and, via a free initial consultation, can get you on your way to owning a home in the UK.

Call 0808 189 2301 or fill out our enquiry form to be matched.

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FAQs

As long as they have a visa that is acceptable to a lender and meet all other criteria you should be able to apply for a joint mortgage.

Most lenders require applicants to have been working for over a year in the UK so a refugee would need to first acquire refugee status and then the right to work in the UK. Once the year mark has passed, they could apply for a mortgage as long as they meet all other requirements and have the relevant paperwork.

Yes. Many lenders, including Natwest and Metro Bank, list US citizens as acceptable applicants for foreign national mortgages. A broker would be able to share which they are.

Ask a question

We know everyone's circumstances are different, that's why we work with mortgage brokers who are experts in all different mortgage subjects.

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Get in touch today

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About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for Online Mortgage Advisor of course!

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Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

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