If I sell my current flat (bought in 2014) to move abroad; if/when I return to the UK, would I need to pay stamp duty on a new house purchase?

Assuming no properties here are worth more than £300k but no less than £125k and the current rules are not going to change for the foreseeable future.


Based on your question I assumed:

  • The house purchase in question is in England/Northern Ireland (based on your tag, and your mention of 'Stamp Duty' - it is known under a different name in Scotland and Wales)
  • You owned the flat you currently hold, either on a mortgage or outright

(Please edit the question if these assumptions are not true)

One-line summary: You will need to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), albeit likely at the standard rate.

The current first-time buyers relief on stamp duty comes with the following eligibility:

Rates if you’re buying your first home

You can claim a discount (relief) so you don’t pay any tax up to £300,000 and 5% on the portion from £300,001 to £500,000.

You’re eligible if:

  • you, and anyone else you’re buying with, are first-time buyers
  • you complete your purchase on or after 22 November 2017

As you, as per the assumptions, bought a home before, you are not eligible. Instead the standard rate apply, which at the time of writing is:

  • Zero for the first £125k
  • 2% for the next £125k (i.e. up to £250k)
  • 5% for the next £675k (i.e. up to £925k), and so on

Now assuming you did not make any home purchases when you are aboard, you do not need to pay the higher rate SDLT.

If you bought a home when you are aboard, and did not manage to sell it before you came back to the UK and buy a UK home, the higher rate SDLT applies. Though in this case the rules are slightly different (see this GOV.UK page):

There are special rules if you own property with someone else or already own a property outside England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Use this calculator to get an idea how much SDLT you will need to pay.

  • Great answer. Welcome to money.SE! – Vicky Sep 2 '18 at 11:16

You’ll pay stamp duty like anyone else buying a house that’s their only property, but not as a first-time buyer. In the price range you’re talking about that will be 2% of anything you pay between £125K and £250K plus 5% of anything over £250K.

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