Moving to the USA from the UK – The Definitive Guide (2023)

Moving to the USA - New York Skyline

Roughly the size of Europe and with 50 diverse states, the USA is home to spectacular landscapes, varied climates, exciting cities and a welcoming population.

If you’re thinking of making the move from the UK to the USA, you’re not alone. It’s a journey that more than 20,000 Britons a year undertake.

The ‘land of opportunity’ is a vast country that offers something for everyone, with the added advantages of no language barrier for Brits and a significant rise in remote working. Whether you want to seek the urban hustle and bustle or enjoy a relaxed life in the wilderness, you can find it in the USA.

This guide services as a comprehensive resource for anyone wishing to move to the USA, and will take you through all of the factors and considerations that come with such a big decision.

In this guide we will cover the following topics:

Why Move To America?

Relocating to the USA is a life-changing experience for anyone. No matter what walk of life you are from or what background you have, America is very much alive. It has a lot to offer with cultures differing between the 50 states.

Furthermore, America has incredible opportunities when it comes to work and education. In the US and among the 323 million people that live there, there is an incredible mix of cultures and backgrounds. Thus, anyone and everyone can fit into America and explore its landscapes and opportunites.

Before You Go

Before you go, it’s a good idea to check the latest local travel advice. With America being such a large country, there may be different advice from state to state and the UK gov website is a great resource for staying up to date with any important travel advice for the USA.


The idea of moving abroad is thrilling, but remember that it requires a lot of leg work before you make the move! You need to make sure it’s legally possible to relocate and explore the various visa types that depend on your circumstances. 

Each visa type has a category – for example, if you’re transferring to a different role within a company that requires you to move, you will be in visa category L as an intra-company transferee. If you’re a spouse of a US citizen, you will be in the IR1 or CR1 category. 

For employment, you may be able to apply as a priority worker or as a professional of exceptional ability. There is also a category for skilled workers. Essentially, you can apply via these categories if you have specific skills or experience that would be considered valuable. Having a degree, especially a master’s or PhD, will increase your chances, and if you specialise in a field where the US has skill shortages.

When moving to the USA from the UK, acquiring a visa can be a long process that you should begin as early as possible. It can take over a year from the beginning to the end of a successful visa process, and you’ll need to ensure you meet all the requirements outlined on the US Department of State website.

Gaining sponsored employment is probably the easiest path to take, where a US-based business applies on your behalf before you start working for them. You might also have a family member who is a US citizen. This could present a stable way of gaining a US visa.

Below are the most common visas to obtain when moving to the USA:

  • F1 or M1 Visa (Student Visas): These visas are for individuals who wish to study in the U.S. F1 visas are for academic students, while M1 visas are for vocational students.
  • B1/B2 Visa (Visitor Visas): These are typically used for tourism, business, and medical visits. While not a long-term solution for moving, they could be a first step in the process.
  • H1B Visa (Specialty Occupations): This is a work visa for workers in a specialty occupation, such as IT, finance, accounting, architecture, engineering, mathematics, medicine, etc.
  • E1/E2 Visas (Trader/Investor Visas): These are for people who conduct significant trade between the U.S. and their home country (E1), or who are investing a significant amount of capital in a U.S. business (E2).
  • L1 Visa (Intra-company Transferee): This is for managers, executives, or specialized knowledge employees transferring to a U.S. office of their current employer.
  • O1 Visa (Extraordinary Ability): This visa is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry.
  • P Visas (Athletes, Artists, and Entertainers): These are for athletes, artists, and entertainers who are coming to perform in the U.S.
  • J1 Visa (Exchange Visitors): This is for individuals approved to participate in work-and-study-based exchange visitor programs.
  • K1 Visa (Fiancé(e) Visa): This is for the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen. The K1 visa permits the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival.
  • IR1, CR1, K3 (Spouse Visas): These are for the spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents.
  • EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4, EB-5 (Employment-based Immigrant Visas): These visas are for workers in a variety of situations, from “priority workers” with extraordinary abilities or multinational executives (EB-1) to skilled workers and professionals (EB-2 and EB-3) and even immigrant investors who are investing a large amount of capital into a U.S. enterprise (EB-5).

Green Card

If you’re contemplating making a permanent move to the United States, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the concept of the Green Card, the gateway to becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR). Securing an LPR status often involves having a close family member or employer, who is already in the U.S., sponsor your application. Compared to other visa types, this family- or employment-based route can sometimes offer a more streamlined process.

Contrary to some beliefs, a Green Card typically comes with an expiry date—it generally needs to be renewed every 10 years. However, the lawful permanent residency status it provides does not expire, giving you the rights to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely, unless you commit actions that could make you removable under immigration law.

Obtaining a Green Card doesn’t automatically make you a U.S. citizen, but it does set the stage for that possibility. Here’s an overview of the process of becoming a U.S. citizen:

  1. Apply for and receive lawful permanent residency in the United States.
  2. Obtain your Green Card.
  3. Maintain continuous residency in the U.S. for at least five years.
  4. Submit an application to become a U.S. citizen.
  5. Successfully pass English language and U.S. civics tests.
  6. Attend the naturalization ceremony and take the Oath of Allegiance.
  7. Apply for a U.S. passport.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you’re officially a U.S. citizen, while maintaining your LPR status through your Green Card.

If your goal is to live in the U.S. long-term without pursuing citizenship, a Green Card will allow you to do just that. It provides many of the rights and privileges of U.S. citizenship, including the ability to work legally and live permanently in the country. It’s a significant milestone on the immigration journey, whether or not U.S. citizenship is your ultimate goal.

Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to US Immigration in 2023: Steps, Tips, and Living in America

For further information on green cards and permanent residence in the USA, please visit or read our guide on Visas and Green Cards for the USA.

Find information on the green card eligibility categories visit:

Finding a Place to Live in the USA

So, you’ve dealt with the difficulty of paperwork, the visas and your legal route to residency. Now it’s time to decide where you live.

This is a difficult but exciting decision, with many aspects to think about. You have to consider what your housing budget allows and the cost of living specific to each place. 

Someone looking to climb the career ladder might find New York or San Francisco appealing, but they can be expensive and you will likely rent or buy a smaller property – which will affect how many belongings you bring with you. 

Cities like Austin in Texas or Portland in Oregon have a thriving cultural scene, amazing international cuisine options, and fantastic public and private schools. You might want to experience more of the great outdoors and get in touch with nature, meaning that Boulder in Colorado or Sarasota in Florida will be attractive choices. In all of these locations, you’re more likely to be living in a house and American homes are often more spacious, so you want to bring more furniture and personal belongings with you.

Renting Vs. Buying in the USA

Wherever you live, you’ll need to make a decision between renting or buying a property. Renting is probably best for a shorter move, if you’re planning to relocate elsewhere within the next several years. If you want to commit to purchasing a property, with various tax complexities, it’s worth consulting a property expert. The price of land is lower in the USA than in the UK, meaning you can likely find a larger property in the US than back home. 

On the other hand, the rental market is thriving; almost half of Americans choose to rent, though this means that rental costs are steadily increasing across the country. Deciding to rent also means that you might end up with an unfurnished property, which will naturally affect the types of items that you want to ship from the UK.

The cost of living is also a factor to consider. Grocery prices have increased significantly in the past few years in the USA, including staple items like bread, eggs, milk, and cheese. On the other hand, transport offers the potential for savings. Fuel is cheaper in the USA, and public transport tends to be up to 20% cheaper if you live in an area with good connections. Basic utility costs are also less, such as electricity and water.

We extensively cover the topic of where to live in the USA and whether to rent or buy in a recent article of ours here. This may help you decide which areas of the US is right for you, and whether to invest in owning your own properly or simply renting out. Either way, with the US being such a vast country, options are aplenty!

Further reading

The Cost Of Living in the USA

The cost of living in the US is generally higher than in the UK. According to Numbeo, the overall cost of living in the US is about 23% higher than in the UK. This is due to a number of factors, including higher prices for goods and services, higher taxes, and higher housing costs.

However, the cost of living can vary greatly depending on the location. For example, living costs in major cities like New York and Los Angeles are much higher than in smaller cities or rural areas. Additionally, the cost of living in different parts of the UK can also vary, so it is important to compare the costs in specific locations rather than relying on a general comparison.

If you’re interested in comparing the cost of living in the UK vs the USA in more detail, be sure to check out our new article on the cost of living in the UK vs the USA. It provides a comprehensive breakdown of the cost of living in both countries, including differences in housing, food, transportation, healthcare, and taxes.

Overall, the cost of living in the US is higher than in the UK, but the exact costs will depend on your specific location and lifestyle. It is worth researching the costs in your intended location and budgeting accordingly.

The main areas where the cost of living differs between the US and the UK are:

  • Housing: Housing costs in the US are generally higher than in the UK. This includes costs for renting or purchasing a home, as well as utilities and property taxes.
  • Food: Food prices in the US are generally higher than in the UK, especially for fresh produce and organic items. However, the cost of food can vary depending on where you shop and what you buy.
  • Transportation: The cost of transportation in the US is generally higher than in the UK. This includes the cost of gasoline, public transportation, and car ownership.
  • Healthcare: Healthcare costs in the US are generally higher than in the UK, as the US does not have a national healthcare system like the NHS. Healthcare insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs for medical treatment can be expensive in the US.
  • Taxes: Tax rates in the US are generally lower than in the UK, but the overall tax burden can be higher due to the lack of a national healthcare system and other factors.

Related article – How Much Does it Cost to Move from the UK to America?

Education in America

Education in America is highly regarded and offers many opportunities for students from all over the world. American schools are divided into elementary school (including kindergarten), middle school or junior high, and high school. Students typically attend elementary school until around age 11, middle school until age 14, and high school for the final four years.

The quality of education at state schools can vary depending on the region and location, as there is no national standard. Therefore, it is important to research schools before enrolling your child. If you prefer a British or international curriculum, you can also look into private and international schools in your area. However, these schools can be expensive.

In addition to academic subjects, American schools also offer extracurricular activities such as sports, music, and clubs. These activities can help students develop their interests and skills outside of the classroom. It is also worth noting that the school year in the US typically runs from August to May or June, with summer break lasting from June to August.

How Does the US Education System Compare to the UK?

The education system in the US differs from the UK in several ways. In the US, schools are divided into elementary, middle, and high school, while in the UK, schools are typically divided into primary and secondary school. The US education system also generally focuses more on standardized testing and grades, while the UK education system places a greater emphasis on personal and social development.

One major difference between the US and UK education systems is the lack of a national standard in the US. This means that the quality of education can vary greatly depending on the region and location. In contrast, the UK education system has a national curriculum that sets standards for schools across the country.

One potential advantage of the US education system is the wide range of extracurricular activities that are available. American schools often offer a variety of sports, music, and clubs, which can help students develop their interests and skills outside of the classroom. In the UK, extracurricular activities are less common in schools and are typically organized by outside organizations.

One potential drawback of the US education system is the lack of a national standard, which can lead to inconsistency in the quality of education. Additionally, the emphasis on standardized testing and grades can put a lot of pressure on students and can lead to a more competitive environment.

Overall, the education systems in the US and UK have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. It is important to research the education options in your intended location and consider the specific needs and goals of your child before making a decision.

For a closer look at the education system in the USA and how it compares to the UK, check out our guide to the US education system.

Setting Up A Business

Setting up a business in the US can potentially make it easier to obtain a green card. If you own your own business, you can apply for a green card on your own rather than relying on a family member or employer to sponsor you.

To be eligible for a green card through your business, your business must be in the national interest and you must be able to demonstrate its benefits. This typically includes businesses that create jobs, generate revenue, and contribute to the US economy in some way.

If you are considering starting a business in the US, it is important to carefully research the process and requirements. This may include registering your business with the relevant state and federal authorities, obtaining necessary licenses and permits, and complying with tax and employment laws. It is also advisable to seek professional advice from a lawyer or business consultant who can help you navigate the process and increase your chances of success.

The US Healthcare System

The US healthcare system is different from the National Healthcare System (NHS) in the UK, as healthcare in the US is not free and must be paid for unless an employer offers to cover the costs. Therefore, it is important to obtain healthcare insurance when moving to the US.

Most employers in the US do offer some level of support for healthcare costs. If your employer offers healthcare benefits, it is strongly recommended that you take advantage of them. If your employer does not offer healthcare benefits, you will need to purchase your own insurance.

There are several types of healthcare insurance available in the US, including employer-sponsored plans, individual plans, and government-sponsored plans such as Medicare and Medicaid. Employer-sponsored plans are typically the most affordable option, as the employer typically covers a portion of the premiums. Individual plans, on the other hand, are purchased directly from an insurance company and can be more expensive. Government-sponsored plans are available to eligible individuals, such as those with low incomes or disabilities.

It is important to research and compare different insurance options to find the right plan for your needs and budget. Keep in mind that healthcare costs in the US can be high, so it is essential to have adequate coverage. It is also worth noting that some insurance plans may not cover certain medical services or treatments, so it is important to carefully read the plan details before making a decision. Additionally, it may be helpful to speak with a local healthcare advisor or insurance agent to get personalized advice and assistance with choosing a plan.

Driving in the USA

Before you get behind the wheel, you should remember that a UK driving licence allows you to drive a rented vehicle in the USA – provided that you’re over 21 too – but the licence is only valid for 12 months.

You cannot convert your licence to a US driving licence, but instead must go through the full application process for a brand-new licence if you wish to drive your own car. Essentially, you are starting from the position of a first-time driver.

There is no single universal US licence; instead, licences are issued by each state. As you might expect, each state has different rules over obtaining a US driving licence, but most will insist that you get your licence within 30 to 60 days of moving to the USA.

Check out our USA driving guide for more information.

Shipping a Car to the USA – The Legalities

If, like many, you’re attached to your car and want to take it on your new adventure, you’ll need to ensure your car is eligible for import before you can start planning the shipping logistics. 

Shipping a car to the USA isn’t the beginning, you need to start by assessing your vehicle. Cars manufactured outside the USA face stringent assessment; with the USA safety and emissions standards strictly regulated, you need to be fully informed of the rules and customs regulations

Import regulations can differ depending on your reason for shipping the vehicle and your personal status in the USA. For example, non-residents can import a vehicle duty-free for personal use up to one year after arrival. However, if the vehicle is found not to conform to U.S. safety and emissions standards – it will have to be exported within a year and cannot be sold in the USA.

Sound complicated? Car shipping companies such as Autoshippers will be more than happy to help and offer advice on shipping your car.

Shipping a Car to the USA – The Logistics

So, you’ve checked the vehicle importation legalities, and you’ve decided to transport your car from the UK to the USA. It’s time to think about the best way to logistically do it. 

At 1st Move International, international car shipping to the USA comes with a variety of options to transport your car safely and securely. As with the other delivery options, the price changes depending on your destination and the type of vehicle, although the average cost is £1088. Take note – this is just the shipping cost and does not include any taxes or duties you may have to pay on your car, or the cost of pickup/delivery.

There are two specific services on offer – either ‘roll on roll off’ shipping for cars, SUVs, motorhomes, and more, or container car shipping. The ‘roll on roll off’ shipping services are available from Liverpool or Southampton to all eligible ports in the USA, including Baltimore, New York, Miami, Charleston, Tacoma, Jacksonville and more. 

The container car shipping, where each vehicle is securely stored inside a dedicated container, operates on weekly departures from Bristol, Felixstowe, Grangemouth, Liverpool, and London.

At 1st Move International, our sister company, Autoshippers, has been shipping cars for over 25 years. So, you can rest assured that we have the expertise and experience to help you with this major move.


If you are a British citizen living overseas, you may be eligible to register as an overseas voter. This would allow you to vote in elections in the UK, such as general elections and European parliamentary elections. However, you would not be able to vote in local elections or referendums.

To register as an overseas voter, you must have been registered to vote in the UK within the last 15 years. You can apply to register as an overseas voter on the UK Government’s website. It is important to note that you must have been registered to vote in the UK before you left the country in order to be eligible to register as an overseas voter.

As a British citizen living in the USA, you are not eligible to vote in US elections. However, if you have a permanent residence (a “green card”) in the USA, you may be able to vote in local and state elections, depending on the state in which you live. It is worth noting that voting laws vary from state to state, so you should check with your local election officials for more information.

In summary, if you are a British citizen moving to the USA, you may be eligible to register as an overseas voter and vote in UK elections, but you will not be able to vote in US elections unless you have a permanent residence in the USA. It is important to check with local election officials for more information.


Pensions in the US work differently from the UK. In the UK, most workers are entitled to a state pension, which is funded by National Insurance contributions. The state pension is paid to eligible individuals who have reached the state pension age. In addition, many workers in the UK have a workplace pension, which is a type of savings plan that is provided by an employer.

In the US, there is no national pension system, but many workers have access to a workplace retirement plan, such as a 401(k) or a defined benefit plan. These plans are funded by employer and employee contributions, and they can provide a regular income during retirement. Some workers may also have a personal savings plan, such as an individual retirement account (IRA), which can be used to save for retirement.

If you are moving from the UK to the US, your UK state pension will not automatically carry over to the US. However, you may be able to transfer your UK state pension to a private pension plan in the US, or you may be able to claim a US Social Security benefit based on your UK state pension. It is important to research your options and seek professional advice to ensure that you understand how your pension will be affected by your move.

To ensure that you can get a pension after you move to the US, it is important to take the following steps:

  • Research your options for transferring your UK state pension to a private pension plan in the US, or claiming a US Social Security benefit based on your UK state pension.
  • Consult with a financial advisor or other professional who can help you understand your options and make an informed decision.
  • If you are eligible for a workplace retirement plan in the US, consider contributing to the plan to save for your retirement.
  • Consider opening a personal savings plan, such as an IRA, to supplement your retirement savings.

Overall, the process for getting a pension in the US can be different from the UK, so it is important to research and understand your options before making a move.

You can read about claiming a British pension in the USA in our blog post, British Pensions in the US.

Can I Still Receive Benefits in the USA?

If you are moving from the UK to the USA, you will not be eligible to receive benefits from the UK government. However, you may be able to receive benefits from the US government, depending on your individual circumstances. It would be best to contact the relevant government agencies in both countries to find out more information.

There are many different types of benefits that the US government provides, including:

  • Social Security benefits, which provide financial support to people who are retired, disabled, or otherwise unable to work.
  • Unemployment benefits, which provide temporary financial assistance to workers who have lost their jobs.
  • Medicaid and Medicare, which provide health insurance to low-income individuals and people with disabilities.
  • Food stamps, which provide assistance to low-income individuals and families to help them afford food.
  • Housing assistance, which can help people with low incomes to afford a place to live.

This is not an exhaustive list, and there may be other benefits available depending on your individual circumstances. It would be best to contact the relevant government agencies to find out more information.

Taxes and Finances in America

If you are moving to the USA permanently, it is important to study the basics of the US tax system before you arrive. The US tax system operates at both a federal and state level, and overall taxes are lower in the US than in the UK. If you are a permanent resident, you will be required to report your global income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). However, you will not be taxed twice on the same income, as there is a system of foreign tax credits that takes this into account. If you are a non-resident, you will only be taxed on your local earnings.

To register with the IRS and file tax returns, you will need to complete several forms, including:

  • Form SS-5: This form is used to apply for a Social Security Number (SSN), which is necessary to work and pay taxes in the USA.
  • Form W-9: This form provides your name, address, and SSN to a financial institution that will be sending you income, such as a bank or employer.
  • Form 1040: This is the main tax return form for individuals in the USA, and it is used to report your income, deductions, and credits.
  • Form 1040-ES: This form is used to estimate your tax liability and make quarterly payments to the IRS.
  • Form W-4: This form is used to determine how much tax to withhold from your paychecks.

Depending on your situation, you may need to complete additional tax forms, such as if you are self-employed or have income from investments. It is important to carefully research the requirements and seek professional advice to ensure that you complete the necessary forms accurately and on time. A professional international removals company such as 1st Move International may be able to provide assistance with this process, which can make it easier and smoother.

Check out our complete tax guide for expats moving to the USA for more information.

Opening a bank account as a recently-arrived expat is relatively straightforward if you have a Social Security Number. However, requirements may vary by state, and some banks may request a credit check, which could complicate matters.

Personal Life

Although your personal life shouldn’t change too much when you move to America, it is good to cover all bases so that you know what to expect when you move.


In the US, you have the right to get married if you are from the UK. However, if you want to marry to obtain a green card, it can be a more complicated process. As an American citizen, you can sponsor your partner to get a green card, but the application process can take time.

Getting married in the US is different from the UK in several ways. In the UK, couples must give notice of their intention to marry at a register office and obtain a marriage license. The marriage must be performed by a licensed registrar or an authorized person in a recognized place of worship. In contrast, marriage laws and requirements in the US are determined by each state, so they can vary depending on where you live.

In general, most states in the US require a marriage license, which can be obtained from the county clerk’s office. You may also need to provide identification, proof of age, and sometimes undergo a blood test. In the US, same-sex marriage is legal in all states, while in the UK it became legal in 2014.

Another difference between getting married in the US and the UK is the sponsorship process for obtaining a green card. In the US, an American citizen can sponsor their spouse for a green card, but the application process can take time. In the UK, spouses of UK citizens can apply for a visa to live and work in the country, but they must meet certain eligibility requirements.

Overall, the process for getting married in the US and the UK can vary in some ways, so it is important to research and understand the specific requirements in the state where you plan to marry.


Bringing a child into the world is a beautiful moment. Yet, it is one that can be more complicated when you move to America. Even if you are a UK citizen still, your child will need to be registered in the state that they are born. Your child will receive a local birth certificate from the local authorities in America.

Even if a child’s parents are not citizens, the child will be granted US citizenship if they are born there. The time of which the citizenship will last will depend on the Presidency as laws are changing all the time.


Christianity is the most popular religion in America. More than 75% of its residents and citizens practice Christianity. However, more religions are celebrated. Around 20% of Americans are Catholic and the final 5% is a mixture of other religions.

Americans seem to appear more religious than UK citizens. UK citizens seem to be more private about their religion and practices. Whereas, Americans are more open. It won’t be a problem if you are private, it is just something to be aware of.


It is possible to import pets and bring them along to America with you when you move. There are special requirements, but it is a pretty straightforward process.

You will need to ensure that:

  • The pet has a microchip
  • A certificate to state that the pet is healthy and safe to fly
  • Proof of rabies vaccination
  • Other required vaccines depending on the laws and state regulations at the time

American Culture 101

In many ways, Americans are similar to their British cousins, however, there are a few key differences that become apparent when living in the country. One is a greater reliance on cars. Distances are vast in comparison to the UK and outside of cities like New York, San Francisco, San Diego etc public transport can be difficult, so households are much more likely to rely on driving – luckily, owning a car is more affordable than in the UK.

Living costs will vary depending on the state and city you choose, but there are many places where your money will go a lot further when buying a house (Florida is one such example), particularly if you choose to live outside of the major cities. There are many affordable food and drink options when eating out and a dazzling variety of goods in the huge supermarkets, while clothes and electricals can also be found at lower prices than at home.

Eating out

Eating out in America proves that they certainly do live larger than life. Portions are much bigger in the US than the UK. Thus, if you want to stay fit and healthy, order something smaller than usual as it will probably turn up the same size as a UK meal. When you do eat out, it is important to know that tipping is essential in America. When your bill turns up, expect to pay around 20% of the bill for tips.


When you do eat out, it is important to know that tipping is essential in America. When your bill turns up, expect to pay around 20% of the bill for tips.

Moving to America with Your Pet?

If living in the USA just wouldn’t be the same without your beloved companion, there are options. First, remember that some animals are not officially classified as pets in the USA. 

While dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, hedgehogs and other rodents, amphibians and reptiles are included, some types of birds are instead classified as ‘poultry’ and subject to different rules.

If you plan to take your pet abroad with you, visit your local vet as soon as possible to make sure your friend is healthy enough for the journey and meets the requirements for entry.  

There are specific rules in place for certain types of animals; for example, dogs must be at least six months old, have a compatible microchip and have a valid rabies vaccination certificate. The USA takes the threat of rabies very seriously.

Equally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention limits the import of small turtles, tortoises and terrapins due to the fact they can transmit Salmonella. It does not cover fish, horses or small mammals, which are covered by the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Once all of these various checks are done, it is relatively easy to transport your pets with peace of mind. Flying is the quickest and most efficient option available. Animals travel in the cargo cabin for international flights, which is pressurised like the cabin you fly in. The plane’s captain will be aware your pet is aboard and will keep the temperature set to a comfortable level.

Shipping to the USA – What You Need to Know

Once you’ve settled on where you want to live, you’ll need to tackle the logistics of moving and shipping your personal belongings and furniture from the UK to the USA. It’s time to decide what you’ll be taking with you and what you’ll be leaving behind. 

This decision can be helped along when you consider other factors. There may be some items you can’t take with you under USA shipping and customs regulations. 

Certain foods and alcohol products, medication, gold, combustible liquids, flammables, certain commercial goods, animal, bird, or plant products, items made of fur, and some forms of cigarettes should be investigated first. Some items may not be outright banned from shipping but might incur additional duties and taxes. 

Equally, you’ll want to focus on the realities of your new home. Is it larger or smaller than your place in the UK? Is it worth shipping things like furniture over or will your place come furnished? Perhaps you’ll want to buy some new items in the USA. 

Before we delve deeper into the process and factors involved in shipping to the USA, remember, here at 1st Move International we have been providing trusted and reliable removals and shipping services to America, from the UK, for over 25 years. If you are interested in shipping you belongings, get in touch or get a free quote. We’ll be happy to help answer any questions you may have.

Prohibited Items

The term prohibited, when it comes to importing goods, refers to items that are forbidden, by law, to enter the United States. With this in mind, there are some items that you will not be able to ship as a result of UK export regulations, safety standards or because of damaging other items in your shipment. 

We have a list of prohibited and restricted items for shipping to the USA to ensure you’re equipped with the knowledge to make an informed decision when gathering your items ready to ship. It’s unlikely you’ll have many of these in your possession, but it’s good to know exactly what is and isn’t allowed according to border control in the US. 

You can find the most comprehensive rationale and all the specifics about prohibited and restricted imports from the US Customers and Border Protection on their website. It’s good to check these in detail as you don’t want any of your belongings to be seized, or to unexpectedly face a fine or additional shipping costs at customs.  

Clearing Customs

When you ship items from the UK to the USA, you must include specific documentation to ensure your items can pass through US Customs and Border Protection without any issues, referred to as ‘customs clearance’. 

If you are planning to import items for personal use free of duty and tax, you will need to fill in US customs declaration form 3299 (Declaration of free entry of unaccompanied articles). 

This declaration provides US Customs and Border Protection with all the details of the shipment to clarify that you don’t need to pay duty or tax on your items. Once you’ve booked your shipping with us, we will give you a blank copy of Form 3299 and our team can support you to ensure it is filled in correctly. 

It is important to note that in order to avoid the need to pay duties and taxes on your household and personal effects, you will need to have owned them for at least a year. 

Any items bought within the past 12 months, can still be imported, but you may need to pay a fee. And, you can’t import household goods for commercial use without a customs bond, which is a binding contract required by the US Customs and Border Protection for commercial imports valued at $2,500 or more.

If this all sounds a bit complicated, not to worry. You removals company should be up to date with all of this information and should know exactly what’s needed in order to successfull ship personal effects to America.

Shipping Costs to The USA Explained

At 1st Move International, we have several great options to arrange shipping to the USA form the UK, which vary depending on the volume of items that you wish to ship and the target delivery time. There are plenty of tailored features to make the process easier as you embark on this next, exciting stage of your life.

So if you’re moving from a three-bed house, and require a 20-foot container, for example, the cost will be different from if you are packing up the items in a four to five-bed house with a 40-foot container. 

Or if you are shipping less than a house-worth’s of items when moving to the USA from the UK, you may opt for a shared container, with custom-made pallets to secure your belongings which will then be charged based on their size.

There are also additional costs to consider when travelling on the UK side and the US side, such as onward delivery to your address from the destination port. We’re proud of our live container and cargo tracking system, allowing you to follow the journey of your valuable possessions as they travel.

While shipping costs vary depending on your shipment size and destination port, as a guide, the shipping cost from the UK to the USA starts at £1,238 for a shared container service. Please bear in mind that this is a very rough estimate and doesn’t take packing, delivery or other costs into account. It’s always best to get a quote for a more tailored and complete estimate for your move. 

You can see a full breakdown of our estimated shipping costs here and find out how to get a free quote for a more specific, bespoke estimate. Where you live and any additional packing costs will affect your UK collection charges, as will customs fees and insurance.

One key thing to note is that if you are planning to import any antiques, these must be legally at least 100 years old and not intended for resale to be classified in this manner and permitted for import duty-free. 

Otherwise, you will need to factor in tax and duty to your shipping costs for any antiques to avoid complications and any unexpected payments to be made.  

Sailing Times & Frequency

The time it takes to ship your goods to the USA from the UK depends on your destination port, but as a guide, you can expect the shipping time to be between 10 and 30 days

For example, if you are shipping to New York, the average shipping time is 12 days and 14 days for ports in Miami. While for the more southern city of Los Angeles, you can expect a shipping time of 30 days. 

Shipments leave the UK for different US ports approximately every seven days, so you’ll have plenty of options. You can find our latest shipping schedule on our website. Your goods must be packed and prepared around two weeks before your scheduled shipping date to ensure your shipment is ready for the sailing date.

Secure Packing

When it comes to ensuring the safety of your packages, you need to trust the pros. At 1st Move International, we use custom-made pallets for shipping, allowing us to ship alongside commercial goods, which means we can ship out on a much more regular basis than other removals companies.

We don’t believe in packing and loading loose items into a container, leaving them vulnerable to damage and mix-ups. Likewise, we don’t believe your items should travel with other people’s goods, meaning they have to be manhandled at the destination port and sorted and separated.

The individual secure pallets that we use increase the safety of your items as they are packed, wrapped, bubble-wrapped, and finally shrink-wrapped. Our individualised packing systems are unique to 1st Move International, rigorously vetted, audited, and approved by our insurance company, and not only help secure your items but also help you avoid delays during shipping.

Every pallet is photographed and posted to the 1st Move International Facebook page, so you can see for yourself how your shipment is carefully and securely packed before setting sail.

Tracking Your Shipment

Once your shipment has set sail, you can keep updated on its whereabouts for full peace of mind and reassurance. We will provide you with your unique container number, so you can track your shipment in real time wherever it is currently located in the world. It means that when you’re shipping to the USA from the UK, you can have peace of mind that your belongings are safe. 

Do I Need Insurance When Shipping Furniture & Personal Effects to the USA?

For over 25 years, 1st Move International has been shipping furniture overseas. We apply our rigorous packing process to furniture too, with prices that vary depending on the size of the shipment, the method of shipping, the collection and delivery address, and the destination port.

For extra peace of mind as your possessions travel overseas, you’ll want to take out shipping insurance and we offer three levels – from restricted cover to standard cover to super cover that insures against total loss, theft, and damage with no excess. 

This insurance means you can rest assured as your furniture travels on weekly sailings on the world’s top shipping lines. Of course, you can be flexible, either choosing to pay for insurance cover on the entire furniture shipment or selecting only the most valuable items. Whatever you decide, let us handle it.

The best way to get an accurate shipping cost estimate is to contact us so that we can create a unique quote based on your specific needs, or simply fill out our quote form and we’ll get back you in 24 hours.

Lets Go!

If you’re considering moving from the UK to the USA, you’re not alone. It’s a journey that more than 20,000 Britons a year undertake. The ‘land of opportunity’ is a vast country that offers something for everyone. With the added advantages of no language barrier for Brits and a significant rise in remote working, it is easy to see why so many people are relocating to the USA.

With this guide, we’ve covered some key considerations ahead for you to think about when moving your life from the UK to the USA. Living in the USA can be a wonderful opportunity to boost your career and living standards, or simply just enjoy an adventure. 

If you need help making the leap across the pond, consider 1st Move International. As one of the largest privately owned international removals companies with a global network and over 25 years of experience, your possessions will be in safe hands with us. 

Our goal is to give you one less thing to worry about when moving to the USA from the UK for the next chapter.

How To Book With 1st Move

To book with 1st Move, simply ask for a quote on our website or contact us at and we’ll help you arrange international removals from the UK to the USA safely, quickly, and affordably. With over 25 years of experience, we know how to fulfil every customer’s needs and we will help you with every step of the removal process so that you can deal with the other aspects of moving.

About 1st Move International

1st Move International are a specialist international moving and shipping company offering packing, shipping and insurance for shipping household goods and personal effects overseas. We have a global reach covering over 80 countries and 6500 worldwide destinations. You can get an international removals quote here or find more information on our international removals UK to USA service here.

Avatar for Mike Harvey
As the Managing Director of 1st Move International, Mike Harvey brings more than two decades of logistics expertise and three years of specialised experience in international relocations to his role. His comprehensive knowledge spans the intricacies of overseas shipping, secondary yet crucial areas such as visa application processes and immigration requirements, and the wider topic of moving abroad including topics such as comparative analyses of cost of living, healthcare and educational systems worldwide. This expertise allows 1st Move International to equip people with the information they need to not just move overseas, but to make informed decisions about whether, and where, to relocate.