The last 12 months may have been dominated by the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic but the UK leaving the European Union (EU) has also led to huge changes, particularly for anyone moving abroad after Brexit.
With the transition period coming to an end at the close of 2020, many of the effects of leaving the EU are only now becoming clear.
Although some of the impacts are yet to be felt, there are already some differences to regulations and laws for any expats moving to Europe after Brexit.
Brexit | What has happened
The UK officially left the EU on 31st December 2020 following many months of arduous negotiations between the British government and the EU’s commission.
This follows the results of the 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK where 52% of the electorate choose to leave opposed to 48% who voted to remain.
After a huge amount of discussions, talks and controversy, a last minute Brexit deal was finally agreed between the EU and the UK on 24th December with new legislation coming into place from 1st January 2021.
The impact of Brexit
While the long-term consequences of Brexit are still yet to be deciphered, there are plenty of immediate changes for any expats looking to move abroad post-Brexit. Many of these regulatory updates are around healthcare, work, travel, home ownership – and this is without exploring new complications around trade and big business.
If you are one of the 1.3 million British expats in the EU, then you must get up to speed with any changes to ensure you’re abiding by the rules of the country you’re living in. You will have some protections in place but they can differ between states and you may need to apply for residency if you want to continue living in your current home.
You can read the UK government’s website for more information and also look to the government websites of your adopted home countries for further guidance.
Here are some other things to consider if you are either living overseas or contemplating making the move.
Moving to Europe
As the UK has now left the EU, anyone wanting to move in 2021 will no longer have an automatic right to live, work, study or retire in Europe.
If you moved to a European country prior to 31 December 2020, then you can continue to live and work there. Anyone wanting to stay will need to apply for residency before 30th June 2021.
However, if you are looking to move abroad now, then you will need to research the rules and regulations for your intended destination. Each country has its own immigration system and you will need to apply for the right visas and permits to be able to legally move there. Without them, you could be at risk of incurring financial penalties or sanctions.
As members of the EU, UK citizens enjoyed the benefits of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Card-holders are entitled to state-provided medical treatment if you suffer an injury or accident while in any EU country, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
The cards have now been replaced by the Global Health Insurance card although the EHIC can continue to be used until they expire. These cards last for a maximum of five years from their date of issue.
If you’re planning on moving to Europe on a permanent basis, then you should investigate your expat healthcare insurance options which comply with local government rules.
It is also important to remember that the EHIC and GHIC are not replacements for travel insurance.
If you are looking to fund your expat lifestyle with work, you will need to check the regulations for the country you are looking to call home to see if you require a specific permit or visa. Professional qualifications are no longer automatically recognised so architects, doctors and engineers will need to have their qualifications acknowledged by each country they work in.
Highly-skilled workers can apply for an EU Blue Card to enable them to work in the EU as if they are a resident.
According to the EU, they are provided to those with “higher professional qualifications, such as a university degree, and an employment contract or a binding job offer with a high salary”.
Holidays in the EU
An estimated 500,000 Brits own homes within the EU and all will be restricted by new rules around the amount of time they will be allowed to stay since Brexit.
If you own a holiday home or second residence, you will now only be allowed to stay for up to a total of 90 days within a six month-period. Anyone who looks to reside there for any longer will potentially face a penalty or fine.
For those looking to travel more freely within the EU, you will now be expected to apply for a visa for any of the countries you wish to visit. Each nation has different rules and regulations around these visas so you will need to research thoroughly before applying.
Before heading to the EU, expats are also urged to ensure they have at least six months until their passports expire. Otherwise you risk being refused entry at the border.
UK driving licences will continue to be valid within the EU. However, anyone driving their own vehicle rather than a hire car will now need a green card to show they have the appropriate insurance cover for the country they are travelling within.
Vehicles will also need a GB sticker in place, even if there is a similar symbol on the number plate.
Now the Brexit transition period has ended, the current EU pet passports are now invalid.
Anyone wanting to take their pet with them when travelling to the EU will need to contact their vet before travelling to request an animal health certificate to show their health and rabies vaccination status.
The government has suggested that these certificates must be requested at least four months ahead of travel to ensure this additional paperwork is completed on time.
Pensions and banks
According to the Office for National Statistics, almost a quarter of a million UK pensioners live in the EU, many of whom will have been concerned by the plight of their pensions and whether they would would have been impacted by Brexit.
However, government guidance says that these pensions will continue to be paid and any increases applied in line with UK rates.
Banking may be an issue for some as their providers have been operating in the EU using passporting arrangements and many Brits were told these accounts would be closed back in 2020.
Those who bank with companies which own EU-based subsidiaries will have their accounts transferred to these entities. However, where these do not exist, these accounts could be closed. Anyone concerned by these new arrangements should contact their providers and investigate any options to set up new accounts.
Here at ExpatRoute, we understand that planning a move abroad after Brexit can feel daunting – but we are here to give you all the information you need to get started with the process.
For more detailed and tailored financial advice, contact a financial adviser today.