Expat Rights In Europe Explained As Brexit Looms

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Brexit is just a month a way and British expats in Europe are looking for some certainty over their rights and futures.

At 11pm on March 29, 2019, Britain ceases to be a member of the European Union.

About 1.3 million British citizens live in another European Union country, according to the latest government estimates.

Most have a home in Spain, France or Ireland.

Their rights in Europe are detailed in the withdrawal agreement ratified by the EU but still under bitter debate in the UK Parliament.

No certainty

As things currently stand, Britain has not agreed an exit deal with the EU and could leave the bloc without any agreement.

So, after two years of talking, British expats in the EU still face a great deal of uncertainty.

The British government seems to have based all the information for expats in Europe on the assumption the withdrawal agreement will be passed by MPs before the end of March 2019.

“The agreement also sets out the terms for a time-limited implementation period that will start on 30 March 2019 and last until 31 December 2020. This means that all UK nationals lawfully residing in another EU Member State on 31 December 2020 will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement,” says the government.

“During the implementation period, as a UK national you will be able to visit, live and work in the EU broadly as you do now. If you currently live in the EU and want to move to a different Member State, you will be able to continue to do so during the implementation period.”

What the EU says

The report goes on to explain that British expats should broadly continue to have the same access to healthcare, pensions and other benefits as they do now.

They can also leave the country where they live for up to five years without losing the right of return, providing they have residency status.

Some countries may demand expats and their families covered by the agreement to apply for a residency document or status conferring the right of residence.

The latest information for expats in the EU or the European Economic Area and Switzerland is published online.

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