In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the European Union. If moving to another EU country was on the horizon for you, then Brexit has probably raised some serious questions in your mind and a lingering feeling of uncertainty.
Will I still be able to move after Brexit? Is Brexit going to make it much harder to move abroad? These are just some of the questions on the lips of those who had planned to make a new home elsewhere in the EU. Even now, with Brexit just around the corner (the official deadline for Brexit is now March 29th 2019), many questions remain unanswered.
Brexit is concerned with cutting the UK’s ties to the European Union; including the right to freedom of movement within the EU, the UK paying money to be part of the EU, and how EU law currently overrides UK law. But what does that mean for UK citizens planning on moving to the EU?
The UK government are in talks with EU leaders to come to an agreement on the terms of this separation. There is a spectrum on which the deals of Brexit could fall: namely, a hard Brexit at one end of the scale, which would involve a dramatic change in trading agreements with the EU; or a soft Brexit, similar to the EU’s relationship with Norway, on the other. Of course, there is plenty of middle ground, where issues around specific industries, health and immigration are currently being debated.
If you have questions about living in, or moving to, another country in Europe after Brexit, then you’re not alone. Currently, 3.8 million people living in the UK are citizens from another EU country, and 1.3 million people born in the UK now live abroad in another EU country. The most popular EU countries to live in amongst UK nationals include Spain, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
Brexit raises a lot of important questions, and it’s essentials to separate fact from fiction when seeking out the answers. Here are some of the most common myths and facts about Brexit, and how it could affect your move to another EU country.
Brexit: Myth or Fact?
1. Moving to Europe after Brexit will be easy: MYTH
Relatively-speaking, it’s likely to become more difficult for UK citizens to move to countries in the EU following Brexit, due to the sheer amount of red tape. At the moment, UK citizens can enjoy relatively little paperwork to fill in when moving abroad. However, all signs indicate that freedom of movement around the EU for UK citizens will become more restricted following Brexit. The right to live and work in the EU may not be guaranteed, and if you do want to move you’ll probably have to follow formal channels.
2. UK nationals based in the EU will have to move home: MYTH
For Brits already living abroad, the question of whether they will be able to stay in the country where they currently live is likely to be at the forefront of their minds. However, at the moment it’s a bit of a waiting game to find out what the status of UK citizens abroad will be. In the event of a soft Brexit, the UK could stay within the European Economic Area, similar to countries like Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland for example, meaning Brits abroad could stay put. It’s also possible the rules could vary between different countries. But as it stands at the moment, UK nationals will not be forced to return to the UK.
3. EU residents based in the UK will have to leave: MYTH
For EU nationals who have moved to the UK and consider it home, the question of whether they would be forced to leave was undoubtedly raised by the Brexit result. However, for those who already live here, life as normal can continue. The only difference will be that, following Brexit, some EU citizens living in the UK will be required to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme for settled or pre-settled individuals and families living here.
4. I’ll have to pay UK taxes, even if I move to Europe: TRUTH
Even before Brexit, many people believed living abroad meant you didn’t have to pay taxes in the UK. This is most certainly a myth, particularly if you own assets in the UK – such as a property you rent out – or if you intend to return. As well as income tax, there is also Capital Gains Tax to consider if you sell your UK property.
5. UK nationals will no longer have access to healthcare in the EU: MYTH
Imagine being abroad in need of medical attention without having access to any: a bit of a nightmare scenario, right? Well, thanks to the Healthcare International Arrangement UK your healthcare abroad following Brexit is likely to be safeguarded. The intended Bill will be founded on a reciprocal healthcare scheme, where EU citizens living in and visiting the UK will continue to have access to healthcare in return. The current European Health Insurance Card arrangement will also remain in place after 2020, according to the government.
6. Moving to Europe won’t affect my pension: TRUTH
For the around 250,000 pensioners living abroad, the question of whether their pension will be affected by Brexit is a hot topic. The British government has already assured UK ex-pats that their annual pension rises will not be affected by leaving the UK, and they can expect exactly the same payments as their UK residing counterparts.
7. Buying property in Europe will become harder: MYTH
The fact is, nothing about buying a property abroad is likely to change following Brexit. This is mainly because the UK’s current status as part of the EU has little influence on the process of buying a home in Europe. In fact, the rules for buying a property vary from country to country and have little to do with EU membership.
8. Moving to Europe will become more expensive: TRUTH
While the rules and regulations remain unchanged, unfortunately, the cost of moving abroad looks likely to increase. The cost of moving to Europe is likely to increase thanks to all that post-Brexit red tape we’ve been warned about. The expense of visas, residency cards and other types of bureaucracy looks likely to add to the total cost of moving abroad.
9. I will definitely have the right to roam if I live in the EU: MYTH
Unfortunately, the right to roam freely around Europe is one of the most hotly debated issues of the EU talks. While as part of the EU, UK citizens can move from country to country with relative ease, one possibility is that post-Brexit travel will resemble the Esta scheme in place in the US, along with the associated costs.
10. There will be increased border checks in the UK and EU: TRUTH
The UK already has its own border controls and is currently able to run checks on all EU nationals who enter the country. Post-Brexit, border controls in the UK could be subject to change for anyone coming into the country. The Dover-Calais border – one of Britain’s most important trade routes – and the UK-Ireland border, are both the subject of intense discussion in the Brexit talks.
For Brits travelling abroad, there could be similar tightening on border controls and increased checks. As mentioned, freedom of movement to roam around Europe will almost certainly be affected by Brexit, and this could mean extra paperwork (such as registering your details and reason for travel online), extra checks and extra costs for moving between countries.
If you’re planning on moving to Europe, don’t be put off by the uncertainty over what may happen post-Brexit. While many elements of the process may still be under debate, there are many other elements you can control to make sure your move goes as smoothly as possible. For example, using a reliable, experienced removals company can give you one less thing to worry about. And for everything else, we’ll leave it to the politicians to sort out.