Brexit and British nationals living in the EU


Latest NewsPolicy paper on the rights of UK nationals in the EU


UK citizens living on mainland Europe are eagerly anticipating official announcements on how they will be affected by Brexit, including whether they will have to apply for permission to keep living where they are now, and whether they will still enjoy freedom of movement between countries.


There is, however, some breathing space: a citizens’ rights agreement is already in place which states that their residency, healthcare and pensions will remain unchanged until the Implementation Period expires in December 2020. Therefore until that date British nationals and their families can visit, live and work in the EU just as they do at the moment and, should they need to apply for residency status, they will have six months to do so after the Implementation Period finishes.


The Government’s Settlement Scheme applies only to European nationals wanting to live in the UK, and no such process has yet been unveiled by the EU for Britons residing on the continent. There are hopes of a collaborative Europe wide scheme accepting permanent residency applications from British nationals living in the EU, but it may well be left up to the 27 individual countries to set their own policies.


However the situation progresses, British nationals already living in the EU are being advised to get their paperwork in place because it looks as though many will need to apply for the right to remain where they are. Essentially they will need to prove they have the right to achieve “settled status” in their chosen country, similar to EU nationals wanting to stay in the UK.


The majority of Brits living in Europe are of retirement age, and so pensions are a key issue. It’s been confirmed that the state pension will keep pace with inflation for Britons living in one of the EU27 countries, as well as Switzerland and Gibraltar.


The consensus is that residency rights should remain similar regardless of the country but that public healthcare and tax regulations vary greatly, so anyone thinking of leaving Britain to live in Europe should do a great deal of research into the current policies of their country of choice. They are also being advised to get moving quickly to maximise their residency time before the Implementation Period expires.

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