Living abroad in a warmer climate than the UK is what many of us dream about. However, in a post-Brexit world, being an expat in Europe now comes with a fresh new set of laws and rules, making living abroad that little bit more difficult. Recently, for example, British expats have faced a total EU ban if they failed to register their residency. Here, we look at how that has come about and what it really means, to help you can assess the impact it has on you.
What are the new laws?
Following the UK’s break from the EU at the beginning of 2021, with the transition period finally at an end, Britons travelling abroad can now only stay in a country for 90 days at a time in any six-month period. This has serious implications for those who own a holiday house abroad, impacting how much they can use their second home each year. Without a visa, if they stay over their 90-day limit, they are at risk of a large fine and even a ban from the entire EU’s Schengen travel zone. In comparison, EU residents and citizens can stay in the UK without a visa for up to six months.
What do the new laws mean for British expats?
For those already living abroad, they also have to ensure they are staying on the right side of the law. Now, instead of being able to live the majority of their time abroad without a visa, expats must apply for residency if they want to stay in a country for longer than three months.
Before the 1st January 2021, if British citizens were living abroad in countries such as Spain, their residency rights were protected under the Withdrawal Agreement. However, anyone who was legally a resident before January 2021 still has to register to ensure they still have access to the same benefits that they did before.
For those that were not already living abroad before January 2021, the new rules follow a different process than expats in the EU have previously had to follow. Now, if British expats intend to stay living abroad in an EU country for longer than 90 days every six months, they must register for their chosen country’s residency. This will vary from nation to nation. There will be differing eligibility criteria you have to meet to gain your lawful right to stay for over 90 days in a six-month time span.
The wider ramifications, if you do not register, is the risk of being deported and then refused entry in the future. The ban that you could face after deportation is not only a ban on re-entering the country you were deported from, but also the entire EU region. That ban can last up to five years. So, any expat not registering is taking a huge risk if they fail to make the necessary applications when living abroad.
What expats should do
Without a doubt, the best thing that expats can do is register their residency. While it may be an added level of bureaucracy and administration that you have to go through, the risk is simply not worth taking. If you have lived in a country like France or Spain for many years now, the chance that you could be deported because you have not registered your residency is too great. It would mean that you have to leave behind everything you have set up there.
As a consequence of not registering, you may therefore have to leave your livelihood behind as well as your home. If you have a family with children going to school, they too will be asked to leave. Registering your residency is definitely worth the inconvenience, as the fallout from what could happen if you do not could be drastic.
Registering your residency should not be too onerous. The UK government has set up pages dedicated to the steps you need to follow to register for residency in the country you want to live in. These step-by-step guides are invaluable and will walk you through all you need to do to remain legally in your new home country.
Alternatively, the ExpatRoute website is loaded with helpful information on what British expats should do both before they move abroad and during. Within are pages clearly detailing some simple practical steps to take, as well as identifying many must-dos you may not have thought about when moving to abroad. You can find more help and advice on what it is like to live in different countries and some of the pros and cons of living in different destinations, such as living in France versus living in Italy.
What do European Union residents have to do when coming to the UK?
One reason that so many Britons living abroad find the process of registering so frustrating is that EU citizens do not have to do the same when coming to the UK. Instead, EU citizens can stay in the UK for up to six months without the need for a visa. Added to this, many EU citizens were able to apply for their right to remain in the UK years ago, which was not the case for UK citizens in EU countries.
Regardless, this does not change the fact that registering residency still needs to be done as a matter of utmost importance.
British expats and EU Ban
Brexit had many consequences in all areas of people’s lives in the UK and the EU. Britons living in the EU were perhaps rightfully worried about their ability to continue living and working abroad. The Transition Agreement and Withdrawal Agreement were drawn up in such a way that British residents in EU countries were protected.
While it may appear to some that EU citizens living in the EU have it easier than Britons living abroad, applying for residency as a Briton living in the EU is something that must be done. Expats must ensure that they are legally on the right side of the law and not leaving themselves vulnerable to action from their current country’s border police. Deportation is not a risk worth taking simply to save time on completing paperwork.
The best thing that expats can do now is adhere to the new legislation to ensure their right to remain continues.