UK issues advice to expats in EU over what a No Deal Brexit will mean

by Ray Clancy on March 13, 2019

The UK Government has issued a number of policy documents for expats living in European Union countries to indicate the challenges ahead if Britain leaves at the end of this month without a Brexit Deal.

It says that it has asked EU Member States to protect the rights of UK nationals in the event of a No Deal, particularly when it comes to employment, healthcare, education, driving and benefits.


Britain says it has offered guarantees to EU citizens to live in the UK with broadly the same rights in the event of a No Deal Brexit and a number of Member States have already given political assurances to UK nationals about their residency rights.

The European Commission has also published a No Deal Contingency Action Plan, which calls upon EU Member States to take a generous approach to UK nationals who are already resident in their territory. This includes a call for Member States to take measures so that all UK nationals legally residing in a Member States on 29 March 2019 will continue to be considered as legal residents of that Member State without interruption.

However, currently it is not possible to confirm that registering as a permanent resident will protect status and rights in the country where expats are living as this will depend on the approach that the EU and each EU Member State takes. ‘You should keep in touch with your local authorities and be ready to cooperate with them once they confirm any action UK nationals may be required to take,’ the documents say.

Those working in the EU as an employed or self-employed person who have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, will remain subject to UK legislation for the duration of the period shown on the form but after 29 March 2019 the form may no longer be recognised.

It warns people to check their passports are not about to run out as the rules for travel to most countries in Europe change if the UK leaves the EU with No Deal. It means that if there is less than six months left on a passport people may not be able to travel in the EU.

Continuing education in the EU and any required fees will depend on the immigration requirements of each Member State and students are being advised to contact the institution where they are studying for advice.

There may be issues around the recognition of professional qualifications but the European Commission has published guidance and where UK nationals have already been recognised by an EU country as holding valid professional qualifications this will remain valid after the UK leaves the EU. The Commission has advised holders of qualifications obtained in the UK before the UK leaves the EU to obtain recognition in a EU27 Member State before the end of March 2019.

UK nationals living in, working in, or visiting the EU may find that their access to healthcare in EU Member States will change and this will depend on decisions by each country. However, the UK is seeking bilateral agreements to maintain healthcare rights as a top priority.

The Government is recommended that British citizens visiting the EU should get travel insurance and make sure that the policy is sufficient to cover possible disruption and insurers should explain if there will be any changes to the way a policy is serviced under a No Deal scenario.

It is also advising holders of UK driving licences who are resident in an EU country to exchange their UK licences for a driving licence from the EU country where they are living in before the end of March as under a No Deal they will be subject to the domestic laws of that country and how they treat non-EU licence holders, which could mean needing to retake the driving test.

There should be no need to purchase additional third party motor insurance policy cover if driving in EU countries with a UK-registered vehicle but the documents point out that if there is no deal the UK will not be part of the Green Card-free circulation area. Drivers of UK registered vehicles will need to carry a Green Card when driving in the EU, EEA and all other countries that recognise Green Cards.

Some EU countries have laws which govern property ownership and differentiate between their own citizens, EU citizens and non-EU citizens and people are advised to check with local authorities about how these might apply.

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