Fulltime sitters travelling the world - some legal questions

I guess, it may be worthwhile coming back to the UK (or your respective home country) at least once a year for the most important health check provided by the NHS (or your respective national provider), such as blood and urine check, perhaps some Xray or ultrasound scan etc. and dental work, even if it would mean - for me - leaving my car and my cat in someone’s care in Uganda or Thailand or Chile and quickly fly “home” for a few days. Basically, I think one can be the rest of the year away without any public authorities knowing. I don’t believe that anyone will really check all border crossings to calculate how many days I have spent in the country throughout the year and whether I am still eligible for NHS services and old-age pension. Am I right? But thanks for all the information about travel health insurances, that is an important topic!

Some countries will require visas where you can only stay a certain number of days so that would need to be taken into account too @Romana.

A car has to have an MOT once a year for insurance to be valid. This cannot be done anywhere else (even Gibraltar). This is a question that gets asked regularly on the motorhome forums I am on

@JackieX , thank you for this information. This makes it really hard to do a trip around the world with a British vehicle, unless you really rush to get back again, which takes all the fun out of it.

@JackieX and to all other nomads
Following up on the mot recent information above - the need to come back to your home country (in my case the UK) with your vehicle once a year for the technical check - what about these two options:

  1. Is it possible for long-term travellers to purchase vehicles and get insurance in other countries of the world, such as South-Africa, South-East Asia and the Americas, and then sell them again elsewhere in the world?

  2. Or is it possible to “officially import” the British vehicle into any of those countries, do the technical check there according to that country’s rules, and then to re-import the vehicle to the UK a few years later? I am talking about a small motorhome.

I don’t categorically know the answers to any of those questions, but my twopennorth,
I’ve read of people taking their motorhomes to the States, and bringing them back, but don’t know of the time span this was done in.

We looked at buying a vehicle in NZ and selling it at the end of our six months allowed stay, but got ‘stuck’ on the how long do you allow to sell it at the end, which becomes wasted time. We also heard tell of vehicles just being abandoned at the airport as people couldn’t sell and had to leave.

We spoke to a Spanish couple who bought a car to travel South America and found crossing borders could be very difficult, and they could speak Spanish!

I’m fairly certain that to register a vehicle in France or Spain you have to have an address.

You may be better off asking some of these questions on full time van life Facebook groups

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Have you looked into pet passports too?

@JackieX The British pet passports have been discontinued. Now you only need proof of all vaccinations and, for some countries, a health check by a certified vet short before the border crossing. And your pet must be microchipped, of course. The only problem I have is that so few airlines allow pets on board in Europe, therefore a motorhome is the best option.

I don’t think the rest of the world cares if a UK plated car has a MOT. Yes, the insurance may but try to get insurance in the country you are in. We have just bought a Virginia registered car. They have the equivalent of a mot once a year. We have been told once we change the plates to ND, where our mail box is, we can ignore that requirement.

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Something I mentioned in an earlier post. I’ve booked with Staysure again. Currently booked insurance for 9 months from 31/10/22 when I fly to NZ. I can extend it for up to 550 days inclusive as I booked it at age 65. But after that, and if I was now 66, I could only book it for maximum 100 days. I think we should start some kind of petition….because it really annoys me!

As long as you have a postal address in The States you can buy and insure any vehicle. There are mail box companies that help you achieve this. We are travelling in North and South America for the next two to three years so have researched all possibilities. The car is bought and we are waiting for it to be re registered in ND. I word of warning when the vehicle is registered in the new state sales tax must be paid. That is another cost over and above the cost of the vehicle. There are some States with 0% sales tax so think about registering it there.
I think you are from UK, like us, so you can stay in most countries for around three months at a time. With a B1/B2 visa the stay in US is 6 months at a time. Check the immigration information for each country very carefully. You don’t want flung out and then refused to re enter. And be very wary of tax on income etc. Mexico, at the moment is 3 months but it can be extended to 6 once you are there and proven you are good citizens. Canada is 6 months at a time.
Europe is another kettle of fish. Three months then out for three months then back for three months. Six months total in a year! Gone are the days of winter in southern Spain but the Spanish are making noises about making it 6 months because they are losing so much revenue.
Australia is 6 months, a year with a visa as is New Zealand. I’m sure there are other UK citizens that can advise you on the Far East and the rest of the world. I haven’t done my research on these places yet.
Good luck and if you are coming this way keep in touch.
PS don’t stint on your health and travel insurance in North America. Saving a few pounds could ultimately bankrupt you.


Start it, we will both sign. It’s driving us mad. We are both fit and very healthy but the biggest outlay is insurance because of our age. People are living far longer but the insurance companies aren’t seeing that.

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Where would we send it I wonder? I’ll do some research….Possibly the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) could be a start….When I’ve got info I’ll start a new post in the travel section.
I’m completely with you. Very fit & healthy, no medical conditions (except under active thyroid which isn’t counted as a problem by insurance companies)

Agree, same here, I’m 60 and perfectly healthy. All my female relatives lived well into their 90ies, in good physical health and mentally super-fit. I don’t understand why healthy older people are being discriminated against, and not only by insurance companies, but also by banks. I am just trying to buy a little studio apartment for my youngest daughter on a mortgage which I want to pay back myself (my daughter is only 18 and has many years of university studies ahead), and banks are telling me that the latest retirement and repayment age they will allow is 70. So we are not even creditworthy any more once we reach that age? I, for my part, intend to work and earn money at least two centuries longer, because I love my work and it is easy to do, as long as I can think clearly, have eyesight and can move my fingers - which all my 92-95 years old aunties and grandmas still can or could easily do until the very end. I also don’t want to give up my driving licence when I’m in my 70ies, with still 20+ years to go! I will be very happy to sign your petition.

US allows a maximum of 6 months stay when entering on a B visa. It is possible that an immigration officer at the airport will give a shorter duration. It is in their discretion to determine period of stay. Check the I-94 that you are given when entering to see how long you were admitted for.

If you do need to stay longer than allowed, you can file to extend the stay once inside the US.

(I’m a US immigration lawyer)


Thanks, Lassie, but I don’t want to stay in any one country for more then 6 months.
I want to keep moving - slowly and with many stops and with many house and pet sits - all around the world.
My problem is that I want to STAY AWAY from the country of my current residence (UK) for more than six months which, if I understand it right, could have the consequence that I lose my rights to residence, settlement, health care, old-age pension etc. and I will then have no country of residence at all. Is that a bad thing? I am a German national but haven’t lived and paid taxes in Germany for 22 years, so I don’t know whether the country which issued my passport matters at all.
I can see at least one positive in being “homeless” in this sense: Logically, if I have no country of residence, no country can claim from me to pay them income tax, even if I keep working and earning. Right?

I found this info on UK pension and living abroad.

@ElsieDownie I have a German passport, so I can stay in EU countries as long as I want, and anywhere else I won’t stay longer than a couple of months I guess. But you wrote one interesting thing:

Can I actually use the address of a home owner where I do a long house-sit for the registration and insurance of a car in the US?

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Nice try, Romana, but there’s absolutely no way that you won’t have to pay taxes somewhere :joy:
And if you’re not paying UK tax, you definitely won’t have access to the NHS (which may not worry you)

I’m interested in this topic so am researching. One thing to think about is what country do your earnings come from? Earned income, investments, etc. They will be taxed at source. Obviously, if you have no income, you’re not likely to be paying tax but then you’re probably not eating, either :grin: