Every UK citizen has the legal right to work in any European Economic Area (EEA) country without obtaining a work permit.
This is a brief guide to help anyone looking for European job opportunities.
What is the EEA?
The EEA includes all European Union (EU) countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
Click here for a full list of countries https://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/about/miscellaneous/listeeaCountries.shtml
What rights do I have?
A British expat has the same working rights as the nationals in the country where they have moved for work.
That includes pay at the same rates as locals, receiving the same social security benefits and enjoying the same working conditions.
I want to work outside the EU
To do this you will need a work permit for the country you intend to move to– and you will probably need to have a valid job offer before you can apply for one.
In addition, some countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand – all popular destinations for British expats – have a points system to help decide whether you would be eligible for a work visa.
What about healthcare?
This varies from country to country – even in the EU. While the UK has set up some reciprocal arrangements with other countries in Europe, whether you can access free or discounted medical treatment varies between countries.
It’s always a wise move to get the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to help access medical treatment in the EEA.
Move outside Europe and it’s likely you will have to pay for any treatment you receive, so you will need to arrange health insurance.
You can find out more about the treatment you can get in the country you are heading to at the NHS Choices website https://www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad/movingabroad/Pages/Introduction.aspx
Will I pay UK tax?
Depending on whether you move abroad temporarily or permanently, then you may still have to pay income tax in the UK.
HM Revenue and Customs website https://www.hmrc.gov.uk/international/leave-uk.htm has lots of information on the subject and will recommend that you fill in Form P85 on departing the UK, which tells the taxman that you are about to leave or have left the UK to work and live abroad.
Making National Insurance Contributions
If you move to any EEA country you may still be required to pay National Insurance Contributions (NIC), though this would normally mean that you don’t have to make contributions to that country’s social security scheme.
Again, there is more information on this subject on the HMRC website. https://www.hmrc.gov.uk/international/leave-uk.htm
However, all UK citizens can opt to pay voluntary NIC contributions which means there will be no gaps in your contribution record should you need to claim benefits or a pension in future years.
What are my working rights?
Essentially, if you are moving to work in another EEA country then your employer must recognise the employment rules of that country.
This will extend to the number hours worked, paid holidays, and minimum rates of pay – and if the pay for the job is higher in that country then your employer must pay you that rate.
There are also rules over health and safety work and sex equality to prevent discrimination.