Our Mortgage-Approval Guarantee - We're so confident in our service, we guarantee it - or £100 back* Read more Chevron
Arrow Arrow
Scroll to top

A Guide to Overseas Mortgages for Buying Property Abroad

No impact on credit score

4.8 out of 5 stars across Trustpilot, Feefo and Google! Our customers love Online Mortgage Advisor

Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston - Mortgage Advisor, MD

Updated: June 14, 2022

Moving abroad is a huge step and without knowing the local language, getting a mortgage for a house abroad can come with unique hurdles. To help make the process easier, we’ve created this comprehensive guide, including how to get a mortgage for a home abroad as well as where you can get advice.

What is an overseas mortgage?

If you want to buy a property which isn’t in the UK, you can use an overseas mortgage. They can be used to buy a holiday home, or to buy somewhere you wish to retire to or, if you can’t afford to buy in the UK an overseas mortgage is a way to buy property abroad, as a buy-to-let investment or somewhere to live permanently.

Can you get a mortgage for an overseas property?

There are specialist mortgage lenders in the UK and across the world who offer international finance for property abroad, provided you meet their criteria. If you want to buy an international property, mortgage lenders can be more wary, so, while it’s certainly possible to find a lender and an overseas mortgage, doing so may take a little longer.

Some countries may require you to pay a larger deposit and each lender will have varying criteria, meaning that whilst you might be rejected by one lender, you may be approved by another.

Getting an international mortgage for a property abroad

Here are the steps you should take…

Find an international broker

To avoid any unnecessary rejections on your credit file, work with one of the international mortgage experts we work with who has negotiated and managed international mortgages before. An experienced broker will:

  • Find the best available interest rates.
  • Negotiate the terms of the deal for you.
  • Handle any paperwork.
  • Arrange translations if needed.
  • Check any contracts thoroughly before you sign.

Find out if you’re eligible

International mortgage lenders tend to focus heavily on salaries as opposed to the amount of your deposit. Unlike the UK, some overseas mortgage lenders have rules regarding how much debt a person can have when make an application.

For example, in some territories such as Malta, any debts, including your future repayments, cannot be more than 35% of your total income. Many people apply to lenders without knowing their eligibility, which can result in wasted money in application fees as well as rejections on their credit file.

Prepare your documentation in advance

To process your international mortgage application, overseas lenders may ask for your:

  • Passport, driving licence or other means of ID.
  • Proof of address.
  • Proof of income.

If you are self employed you may also need:

  • Your most recent audited accounts.
  • 6-12 months of personal and business bank statements.

Find a property

When you’ve been approved for an international mortgage, you should receive an agreement in principle. Once you have this, you can start to look at local properties and get a feel for which location is best suited to you.

How much could you borrow?

Overseas banks generally promote repayment mortgages rather than interest-only, with term lengths of 20-25 years, similar to that of the UK. The amount you can borrow for an overseas property will vary depending on the country, your choice of lender and, most importantly, your circumstances. The average loan to value (LTV) tends to be around 75% but again, this will differ depending on the above factors.

Top tips for buying foreign property abroad

Every country has different rules, taxes and processes when it comes to property, not to mention a different language. This can be daunting when you’re a foreign buyer so seek advice from one of the expert advisors we work with for the right guidance.

Check the local property laws

The laws regarding property can differ heavily across the globe and not adhering to them can result in heavy penalties and even legal action. For example, in Turkey, non-natives cannot purchase property within military forbidden zones or security zones. In Sweden, landlords are forbidden to ask for rental deposits.

As well as this, if a landlord decides to increase the rent, the tenant has the right to appeal to the Swedish Rent Tribunal. Because of the differing laws, it’s crucial that you work with a solicitor who is registered with the Law Society in the UK. They should also specialise in international transactions and property conveyancing.

Think about the tax implications

A mistake or a misunderstanding of how much tax or what tax you’re required to pay could end up costing you a lot of money in missed payments and fees. It’s also important to understand how buying a foreign property could affect how much tax you pay in both the UK and the country you’re buying in.

Because of this, you should work with an expert advisor who understands the tax requirements in the country where you are buying, as well as a proven history of handling international mortgages.

Research the planning permission you might need

The type of planning permission or license you need for any changes to your property will depend on the work you plan to do. In the majority of countries, formal authorisation is required for all new construction works, whether that be to an existing building or for a completely new structure. In some countries such as Spain or France, even small external repairs such as new windows or doorways will require a works license.

Carrying out any work without the correct permissions could result in heavy fines or lead to prosecution, so always check with your solicitor who can read through your paperwork for you. You should check to see what future development plans are in place by local authorities when looking at properties. In some countries, if part of your property needs to be moved or knocked down to make way for a road, for example, there’s no right to appeal this and you may even have to pay for the works yourself.

We're so confident in our service, we

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

How to finance an overseas mortgage

There are a number of mortgage options available to overseas buyers which may be suitable for you. These include:

  • Using an international mortgage provider.
  • Using a UK-based mortgage lender.
  • Raise capital on a property you already own and buy for cash.

International mortgage providers

Because overseas lenders won’t have access to your UK credit file, it can take longer for them to establish whether or not you have bad credit and pose a risk to them. You may also require a larger, non-refundable deposit for your mortgage with an overseas lender, depending on the country and their specific laws. Because of this, always have your broker thoroughly check your paperwork and contract before you hand over any money.

Using a mortgage in the UK to buy property abroad

Most UK high street banks offer UK mortgages for homes abroad. This can be helpful for applicants who do not speak the native language. Santander, for example, have a very large presence in Spain. Not only can this help to avoid any document translation issues but it could also help to save money on translation fees. However, you may find that buying foreign property through a bank in the UK might end up more expensive.

Furthermore, mortgage lenders in the UK can (in some cases) lack local market expertise. This can result in inaccurate valuations and therefore lower loan to value (LTV) rates.

Remortgaging to buy property abroad

In order to raise the money needed to buy an overseas property, you may consider remortgaging a property you currently own. Often the more equity you own in the property, the more you can borrow. Some investors use the equity in their current property to put down a larger deposit for their overseas property, whilst others have enough equity to buy the second property outright.

This is a risky option and should only be considered if you’re certain that you can afford both your remortgage payments and the upkeep or your new property. Before proceeding with an overseas second home mortgage, seek financial expertise. A mortgage broker can calculate your affordability and then can research the market to find you the best remortgaging deals.

Remortgaging an overseas property

After living overseas and establishing some roots, some homeowners decide to remortgage their current overseas property in order to buy a second property abroad. However, it can be more difficult to remortgage an international property in some countries as these types of mortgage products, including equity release, are less common. Many lenders see remortgage products as riskier and prefer to stick to standard repayment mortgages.

That being said, remortgaging an overseas property may be possible in the right circumstances as there are lenders who are more willing to offer this as a finance option.

Oversea buy-to-let mortgages

Buy-to-let mortgages can be more difficult to obtain as lenders see the risk of defaults as much higher. That being said, there may be lenders who will consider lending in the right circumstances. Some may require larger deposits of up to 40% whilst others may require your income to be sufficient enough that you are able to afford your Spanish BTL mortgage without rental income, should you not be able to find tenants.

How to get the right advice

We understand that getting a mortgage for a  property abroad can be overwhelming but with the professional help of one of the expert mortgage brokers we work with, it doesn’t have to be. Inaccurate information could cost you money and in some cases could even result in your application being rejected.

To prevent misinformation, we carefully vet every broker before deciding to work with them. Not only do they have to be reputable and experienced brokers, they also have to be OMA accredited.

Find the best overseas mortgage rates

Researching and comparing the current international mortgage rates can be incredibly time-consuming. The advisors we work with can do this on your behalf.

They have access to hundreds of local overseas mortgage lenders as well as lenders in the UK and have successfully helped customers find the most favourable rates on overseas products including…

  • HSBC: Has a worldwide network and specialises in properties in territories including Canada, the USA and Hong Kong.
  • Santander: Specialise in mortgages for properties in Spain, and the advisors we work with have been known to land broker-exclusive deals with them.
  • Barclays: Overseas mortgages are available to Barclays International Banking customers looking to borrow £500,000 or more, with at least £25,000 in sterling (or the equivalent in foreign currencies) to deposit and maintain across their accounts.
  • Natwest: Natwest International offers mortgages for Jersey, Guernsey, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man.
  • Halifax: Halifax do not lend internationally, but Lloyds (who are part of the same group) do – see below for more.
  • Lloyds: Lends internationally in territories including the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore.
  • Skipton: A Channel Islands-based lender which specialises in expat finance.
  • And many more besides.

Speak to an overseas mortgage expert today

If you have questions about mortgages or buying a house overseas and want to speak to an expert for the right advice, call 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry online for a free, no-obligation chat. We’ll match you with a broker with the right expertise for your circumstances, no matter which country you want your international mortgage for. They’ll be happy to answer all your questions, find the right deal at the best available rates and offer a five-star service, without leaving marks on your credit rating.


Can older borrowers get a mortgage for investing in a holiday home abroad?

The maximum age that someone can get a mortgage differs from country to country as some lenders will want to ensure that the borrower can afford their monthly repayments, despite living on a pension or from their retirement funds. The majority of lenders will ask for proof of income to calculate affordability, whether that be from a pension, savings or benefits. There are lenders that specialise in mortgages for retired or older borrowers and you may find that these offer more reasonable interest rates and terms.

What happens to my mortgage if I move abroad?

If you have a mortgaged property in the UK but then decide to move abroad, you’re still legally required to pay your mortgage on time and in full. The terms and conditions of your UK mortgage are still legally binding, despite you no longer living in the country. Some homeowners decide to rent their UK property out whilst they live abroad, which can be a great way to earn income for your remaining payments. If you decide you would like to do this, you will need to register with the Non-resident Landlord Scheme.

Can you get a commercial mortgage for an overseas property?

Many expats buy commercial property abroad for business ventures including bars, restaurants or shops. Although commercial mortgages can be harder to obtain as a foreigner in some countries, there may be international mortgage companies that offer competitive interest rates to suit you. A top tip is to check beforehand whether the business has any undisclosed debts as well as any pending legal action. It can also be helpful to open a bank account in the country you are purchasing your foreign commercial property in. This makes it easier to keep your business accounts separate from your own, especially when paying wages or bills. Check out our guide to commercial mortgages for more on this topic.

Should you use an overseas mortgage calculator?

Although online mortgage calculators, found on many financial websites, can provide a quick estimate, they can’t take all factors that may affect your mortgage into consideration. This is because a calculator doesn’t factor in that each lender will assess a borrower differently. This leaves many people confused or disheartened because they receive an inaccurate quote

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 OMA of course!

Read more about Pete

Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

Maximise your chances of approval, whatever your situation - Find your perfect overseas mortgage broker

Don't miss out...

Sign up for the latest market news, new lender product information and helpful tips and advice from our experts!

Close icon