UK student loan repayments when going overseas
If you go abroad and are no longer within the UK tax system, HMRC stop being involved in your student loan repayments and the Student Loans Company takes over.
Leaving the UK
If you received a UK student loan and you leave the UK for more than three months after finishing your course, you must inform the Student Loans Company (SLC). Their contact details and online form can be found on GOV.UK. The SLC will then take over the collection of the repayments.
If you secure employment abroad and are paid abroad, the SLC will ask for the name of the employer and evidence of the salary. This is called an overseas income assessment. They will probably ask you to set up a direct debit repayment arrangement. The level of your repayment will depend on your overseas earnings.
The repayment threshold relevant to the country you are going to is not necessarily the same as the corresponding threshold in the UK (for the 2023/24 tax year these are £22,015 for Plan 1 income-contingent repayment student loans, £27,295 for Plan 2 income-contingent loans, £21,000 for postgraduate loans and £27,660 for Plan 4 income-contingent loans).
Overseas thresholds vary according to comparison calculations between the cost of living in the UK and the other country. GOV.UK gives the overseas earnings thresholds for Plan 1 loans, Plan 2 loans, Plan 4 and postgraduate loans.
The SLC uses these repayment thresholds over a 12-month period from when you are working abroad, so this may differ from the UK tax year (which runs from 6 April to 5 April).
If you do not contact the SLC to complete an overseas income assessment, then repayment arrears may build up on your loan account. If this happens then you should contact the SLC. There is more information on what you should do on GOV.UK.
If you want someone else to act on your behalf when dealing with the SLC then you must first give your consent to the SLC either by phone or in writing by post.
You can find more information on GOV.UK.
Returning to the UK after living abroad
If you have been away overseas and return to the UK for three months or more, you should let the SLC know, as you might need to make repayments through pay as you earn (PAYE) and you will need to cancel any separate arrangements that you have made direct with the SLC.
If you have been abroad and then return to the UK, it is important to understand whether you have made overpayments on your loan. This situation can arise when you have been paying your loan repayments direct to the SLC and you are then asked by HMRC to complete a self assessment tax return. Your tax return will usually include all your worldwide income and your student loan repayments will be calculated using the UK repayment thresholds, and so will not automatically take into account the overseas repayments you have made directly to the SLC.
If you are in this position and you do not want to make overpayments, you must contact the SLC to transfer the direct overseas repayments to HMRC and then apply to HMRC, using an informal ‘stand over’, to ensure overpayments are not deducted.
It is recommended that you check your loan account to ensure that all repayments have been accounted for (including those made through the self assessment process to HMRC and those directly paid to the SLC).