Can a Mortgage Guarantor Live Abroad?

Answered on 26 March 2024 by

I live in the UK and want to take out a guarantor mortgage, but the person I’d like as my guarantor is a British expat. Can they still be my guarantor if they live abroad?

Sophie Waugh

Whether a mortgage guarantor can live abroad in another country depends on the policies of the lender and the specific circumstances of the guarantor. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that a lender would allow someone who’s based overseas to act as a mortgage guarantor, even if they’re a British expat.

A guarantor agrees to ensure the mortgage payments are made in full and on time. They also agree that they can be pursued for any outstanding money in the event of a loss on repossession, as if they had been the borrower themselves.

Having a guarantor live in another country could be complicated and present potential issues for a lender and borrower. Keep reading to find out what to consider if you’re thinking about having a guarantor who lives abroad, the potential issues, why lenders may not accept overseas guarantors and alternative options.

Having a Guarantor Live Abroad: Considerations and Potential Issues

  1. Lender Policies
    • Each mortgage lender sets its own eligibility criteria for guarantors. Some lenders may accept guarantors who live abroad, while others may require the guarantor to reside in the same country as the borrower. It's essential to use a mortgage broker like John Charcol who understand each lender’s criteria and their policy regarding guarantors living abroad
  2. Legal Considerations
    • The legal and regulatory requirements governing mortgage guarantors may vary between countries. Depending on the jurisdiction where the property is located and where the guarantor resides, there may be legal implications or restrictions on the ability of an overseas guarantor to fulfil their obligations
  3. Financial Stability
    • Lenders typically require guarantors to demonstrate sufficient financial stability and creditworthiness to support the mortgage application. If a guarantor lives abroad, they may not have a UK credit footprint and it can be more difficult for the lender to assess their credit and financial status. Due to data protection it may also be difficult to pass data between different countries
  4. Communication and Documentation
    • Communication between the lender, borrower and guarantor may be more challenging if the guarantor lives abroad. However, advancements in technology make it easier to exchange documents and information electronically. The lender may require additional documentation or verification to confirm the guarantor's identity, residency status and financial circumstances
  5. Legal Advice
    • It's advisable for both the borrower and the guarantor to seek legal advice before entering into a mortgage guarantee arrangement, especially if the guarantor resides abroad. Legal professionals can provide guidance on the implications of cross-border guarantees and ensure that all parties understand their rights and responsibilities under the agreement

Why Does It Make a Difference Where My Guarantor Lives?

The point of a guarantor is to pay the mortgage should you, as the borrower, be unable to. The lender needs to be able to enforce this obligation, which could be incredibly difficult if the guarantor is situated overseas.

Firstly, the lender would have to deal with the laws and protocols of another country. This could present potential barriers when they attempt to take legal action in pursuit of payment.

Secondly, the logistics involved in tracking the guarantor and arranging payment would make it difficult if the guarantor was situated across borders in Europe, let alone on the other side of the world.

How Else Can I Get a Mortgage?

Guarantor mortgages are rare nowadays anyway. There are alternative options on the market, such as joint borrower sole proprietor and joint mortgages. These are available to expats, which could potentially solve your overseas guarantor issue.

Joint Borrower Sole Proprietor

joint borrower sole proprietor arrangement is the modern day alternative to a guarantor mortgage. It’s a mortgage setup where 2 or more people are full borrowers on a single mortgage, but not all of them are proprietors, i.e. not all of them are registered on the title deeds as owners of the property. You can have a mortgage with a joint borrower sole proprietor arrangement where one of you lives abroad; this would be an expat mortgage with a joint borrower sole proprietor setup. Either of you could act as sole proprietor but if you’re selecting this option as an alternative to an overseas guarantor, then it would make more sense for the expat relative to act as a borrower only, not a proprietor. 

Joint Mortgage with Non-UK Resident

A joint mortgage with someone who lives abroad as an expat would be a typical expat mortgage.

Expat mortgages are quite common but can be complicated to organise, so it’s best to speak to an expat mortgage broker, like John Charcol.

Can a Mortgage Guarantor Live Overseas: Summary

Ultimately, whether a mortgage lender accepts an overseas guarantor will depend on their specific policies and the individual circumstances of the guarantor. It's essential for borrowers and guarantors to communicate openly with the lender, provide accurate information, and seek professional advice to navigate the process effectively.

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Want to do a bit more research? See our First-Time Buyer’s Guide for some additional help getting started. You can also learn about other finance options in our Help to Buy Scheme Guide.

Ask The Mortgage Experts answers are based on the information provided and do not constitute advice under the Financial Services & Markets Act. They reflect the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of John Charcol. All comments are made in good faith, and John Charcol will not accept liability for them. We recommend you seek professional advice with regard to any of these topics where appropriate.