Moving to Europe After Brexit: How Will it Affect You?

30th August 2018, Georgina Croasdale

Are you considering moving to Europe after Brexit? Whether you voted to remain or leave, it’s a big topic of discussion all across the UK. If you’re worried about what the implications of Brexit will be for your move, then we’ve got you covered. Almost every day, something new appears in the news about the Brexit discussion in Brussels, so it can be hard to see what Brexit will mean for the UK. In this article, you will find a simple breakdown of the possible outcomes of the Brexit deal and our forecast for what moving to Europe post Brexit will be like.

The Brexit Forecast

What is included?Soft BrexitHard Brexit
Single MarketYesNo
Customs UnionYesNo
Freedom of MovementYesNo
Paying towards EU BudgetYesYes (less or nothing)

Since the 23rd June 2016 there has been a lot of uncertainty about what trade deal will be reached and whether or not freedom of movement will be included. To keep things simple, the table above shows what would be included in both extreme cases of a soft or hard Brexit deal. If you would like to know more about this, this video explains the difference between a hard and soft Brexit in more detail.

Soft Brexit:

As you can see, if a soft Brexit approach is taken, there could be a chance that the freedom of movement will be retained for citizens of the EU and UK. This would mean that moving to Spain, France or any other EU country could be possible without applying for a visa. Obviously, this would be ideal for someone planning to move to a country that is a member of the EU.

Hard Brexit:

A hard Brexit could result in no divorce bill payment, no freedom of movement, leaving the single market and customs union and switching – at least initially – to World Trade Organization rules. This would make moving to Europe a lot more difficult, as it could mean that UK nationals have to apply for a work or study visa if staying for a long period of time.

For more information, this BBC article explains different things that Brexit could have an impact on and also the potential relationships that the UK could share with the EU.

Planning to Move Before Brexit

The UK will officially leave the EU on the 29th March 2019. So, before this date, you are still free to live, work and study in an EU country. Most people will want to do this as, at the moment, we don’t know what kind of deal (if any) the UK will have with the EU. In any case, it would be wise to move sooner rather than later to avoid complications with your move and establishing your residency.

Moving After Doomsday

After the 29th March, if there is a deal, there will be an implementation period until 31st December 2020. If you move to an EU country before the end of 2020, you will be covered by the citizen’s rights agreement. This means the following:

  • You will have the same access to healthcare, pensions and other benefits
  • You will be able to leave the EU country you’re living in for up to 5 years without losing your right to return.

Also, you will have six months after the implementation period to submit your application for a residency document or status conferring the right of residence, which will be compulsory for you to live in the EU.

Please note, the citizen’s rights agreement does not cover UK nationals living in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. However, the UK Government is planning to secure the same protections for UK nationals living in Switzerland.

Also, this will only happen under the conditions that an overall agreement is made under Article 50.

For more information, the UK Government website has information regarding the UK’s exit of the EU.

Deal or No Deal?

If no agreement is made by the end of the negotiating phase, it is quite unclear what will happen. These could be some of the consequences of a no deal Brexit:

  • UK citizens living in an EU country may lose their right to live in that country-these people may become “third country nationals”, which would mean they would be subject to domestic immigration rules.
  • Individual EU countries may strike deals with the UK to guarantee citizen’s rights.
  • The Rules of the WTO would come into effect.
  • People already living in the EU could lose their rights to access their pensions and other rights that they hold.

As we don’t know if this will be the outcome, we suggest to keep checking the news and keeping up to date with the Brexit negotiations as to avoid any nasty surprises when you have moved to Europe. On the 23rd August, the UK Government announced advice for Brits and businesses in case of a no-deal Brexit scenario:

UK Citizens Currently Living in Europe

If you are already living in Europe, you may be wondering what Brexit will mean for you. The draft withdrawal agreement says that Britons living abroad will get the same access to healthcare, pensions and other benefits as before. However, freedom of movement may not be granted, which means that you may not be able to relocate as easily as before Brexit. For example, if you live in Spain, moving to another country, such as France, would be more difficult and involve a lot more red tape.

For more information, you can read the Government’s advice for British nationals travelling and living in Europe.

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