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Prepare / Return
Get ready to return home after staying in the UK for study or work
Sending baggage
Return (c)
  Selling your things
  Giving away or throwing away your things
  Gifts and souvenirs

Preparing to return to your home country after a long-term stay in the UK can take a lot of time, so try to plan it in advance.

Check the maximum weight and size of luggage that you can take with you when travelling home. Other belongings can be sent to your country, sold, given away or thrown away. If you try to carry more then you are allowed, you may have to pay excess baggage charges or use an excess baggage delivery company at the airport, port or station; these can be expensive, and you may not have enough time to deal with these things before the start of your journey.


See the section Life/Post for details about sending your things back to your country using the post office or a private delivery service.
If you do not have a car, you may want to arrange for the delivery company to collect any large parcels from your accommodation. You will probably not be told an exact collection time, so you may need to stay at home on that day.

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If you do not need to take all of your things back to your home country, you can try to sell them.
Decide how much money you will accept, and ask other students if they are interested (especially students who have arrived recently).

You may be able to sell textbooks to your school or student's union, or to a bookshop. Books should be up-to-date editions and should be in good condition (they should not be marked with written notes, underlining or marks from a highlighter pen). Some bookshops, especially ones which are near to university campuses, may also buy second-hand textbooks. Typically they will pay about 30% of the book's original price, or will offer 40-50% of the price as book vouchers. You can sell any books using Marketplace.

Another way of selling items is to place an advertisement on a noticeboard used by your school (always ask for permission), your country's community in the UK, or on local advertising boards in the window of a local newsagent or in a supermarket. Online bulletin boards are available on many websites. You could also place a small advertisement in your local newspaper.

If you are at a UK university check if there is a way of selling unwanted textbooks or other things from your room to other students at the university. A student-led organisation which you may want to use is Boso ("buy or sell online"):

You may want to try selling larger items by placing an advert in Loot (see: or Different editions are published in regions of South East England (London, Surrey & Croydon, Essex, Kent, and Bedfordshire / Buckinghamshire / Hertfordshire) and in North West England (Manchester and Liverpool). Some of the categories which might be useful are: Bicycles, DVD & laser disc players & films, Fires/heaters, Furniture, Hi-fi, Kitchens miscellaneous, Laptop/palm computers, Lights/light fittings, Men's clothes, Mobile/car phones, Portable hi-fi, Printers/scanners, Sports equipment, Televisions, Women's clothes.

Another way to sell is to advertise your things on an online auction website such as eBay:

You can sell your pay-as-you-go mobile phone, but the buyer should register it in his/her name.
If you sell a television, you should make it clear that the buyer has to buy his/her own TV licence (you cannot transfer your licence with the television). You can claim a partial refund for unused quarters (3 month periods) of your TV licence - ask your post office for details.

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Consider giving away or throwing away items which take up a lot of space or which are not expensive to replace after you have returned to your home country. Examples of such items are: food or drink, toilet paper, shampoo, towels or tea-towels, blankets, mugs/glasses, cutlery (knives/forks/spoons), plates, pans or desk lights.

You can find a second-hand/charity shop using UpMyStreet: Select Find My Nearest … , enter a postcode or town name, select Find by category and choose Shopping then Second-hand and charity shops. The nearest ones will be listed first.

If there is something which you have bought which you are not able to sell and which is too large to throw away in the normal way, you can contact your local council and arrange for them to collect it (there will be a charge for this service). You will want to contact the department called "refuse collection" or "waste management", and ask about special collections.
You can find your council using UpMyStreet: Select Local area, enter a postcode or town name, and select My council & reps.

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Check carefully the expiry date of your passport, your UK visa and of your air ticket.
If you have an open return air ticket, confirm your flight home at least a month before you intend to travel. This is especially important at busy times of the year (for example in the holiday periods in July, August, late March, April and December, or at times when there is a special international event such as the Olympics or the World Cup in that country).
If you are buying a single air ticket to return home, it may be cheaper if you obtain it 1-3 months before travelling (see Travel/Transport/Air for details of how to buy cheap tickets from the UK, and for information about the airports).

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TV licence refunds
If you still have more than 3 months left until your TV licence expires, you may be able to get a refund on the unused quarters (for example, if you study between October and June, but do not need to watch television in July, August and September, you can claim back a quarter of the licence fee). Telephone 0870 5763763 or write to PO Box 410, TV Licencing, Bristol BS99 4HP. You will be sent a TV Licence Refund Application Form to complete. You will need to send your TV licence. If the quarter for which you are claiming a refund has already started by the date that your completed application has been received, you will need to include evidence of your move (for example: a final gas/water/electricity bill, the tenancy agreement, or a letter from university confirming the term dates) or of the disposal of your TV (a bill of sale or receipt).

Income tax refunds
If you have paid tax on earnings or savings, you may be able to claim some money back (a rebate, or a taxback). If you are working for a company with a payroll department, ask them for advice on how to do this. Otherwise, you can contact your nearest Tax Enquiry Centre (part of the government's tax department), which you can find by using the site:

VAT refunds
If you are returning to a country outside the European Union, you may be able to reclaim VAT (value added tax) on things which you have bought in the UK in the three months before you leave. For details, see: Life/Shopping.

Bank account
If you have a UK bank account, inform the bank that you are intending to leave, and ask to close the account if you no longer need it. If you intend to return to the UK, you may find it more convenient to keep the account open.

Inform your landlord or host family as soon as you know when you are leaving. If you have paid a deposit, find out when you can receive this money back (assuming that you have paid all of your bills and have not damaged or lost anything).

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If you intend to buy many souvenirs for yourself, your family or your friends, it may be better to buy these within the last 3 months of your stay, so that you can buy them free of value added tax. If you already have a lot of luggage, you may wish to send the souvenirs back to your country. If you want to send them cheaply (for example, by sea mail rather than by air mail) but would like them to arrive before or soon after you have returned to your country, buy and send souvenirs early (not just a few days before you leave).

Some ideas about possible souvenirs:

T-shirt/mug/pen (British, or from your university or school)
Sweets or biscuits (if you take chocolates, keep them in your hand luggage and be careful they don't melt)
Coasters (drink mats / table mats with a British design; you could split up a set, and give one to each friend)
Shopping bag
Calendars (especially before the New Year)
Notebook / letter set
Paper napkins (with British design)
Specialist goods - for example: the Royal family, Shakespeare, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Rabbit, London Transport, football team goods

Some places in central London which are recommended for buying souvenirs are: Harrods, Liberty's, Fortnum & Mason's, Buckingham Palace shop, Past Times, London Transport museum.
If you are travelling outside the European Union or wish to buy gifts just before leaving, duty-free shops in airports may be a cheaper source of presents, especially for goods which are taxed highly in the UK, such as alcohol and tobacco.

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UKCISA produce guidance notes for international students on "Preparing to return home" at:
HM Customs & Excise (customs allowances, banned items):

Postal services: Life/Post
Plane tickets and airports: Travel/Transport/Air

Home page: Home

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