Brexit: What does it mean for EU and British expats?

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Published 2020-02-03 11:33

At midnight on the 31st of January, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union after a three-year tug-of-war within the British parliament itself. So, now that it is done, what does it mean for British expats living in the EU and EU expats living in the United Kingdom?

British expats living in EU countries

If you’re a British expat living in any EU country or in Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, do not panic. You will not be asked to leave anytime soon. Actually, you will be able to carry out business as usual for the next 11 months. Indeed, the transition period lasts until the 31st of December 2020. Until then, any British expat living in any EU country is allowed to live and work as usual in their host country.

What happens after that period? After the 31st of December 2020, a British expat having lived in an EU country for over five years will need to have a residence permit. This should be received by the 31st of December 2020. The procedures and the type of residence and work permits available will, of course, depend on the country the British expat lives in. 

Expats from EU countries in the UK

If you’re an expat from any of the EU countries living in the UK, you are also safe until the 31st of December 2020. Until the end of the transition period, all EU citizens will be able to live in the UK under their current arrangements. However, after this period, they will need to arrange for a residence permit in the UK.

EU citizens who have been living in the UK for the last five years will be eligible to apply for the settled status while any other EU citizen who has been living in the UK for under five years will be eligible for a pre-settled status. Both the settled and the pre-settled status grants the EU citizen the same rights including the right to live and work on British territory.

What else do I need to know?

The information you need to know if you’re a British expat living in an EU country or vice-versa is probably non-exhaustive. However, here are some basics about Brexit that might be helpful. (Do not hesitate to ask in the comments if you have any questions.)

Until the 31st of December, you can continue to use your current driving licence whether you’re in the UK or in an EU country. However, after this date, it is not sure yet what the requirements to drive in an EU country will be. Indeed, this will depend on the negotiations the UK will now launch with the EU and its different member states.

It is also important to know that any EU citizens deciding to leave the UK after Brexit might also still be eligible for their UK state pension. This applies to anyone who has worked in the UK and who will begin claiming their pension as from the 1st of January 2021.

Pets of UK citizens living in EU countries will also be able to carry on living on their current passport but this might change as negotiations unravel with the different member states.