This blog post was published under the 2015 to 2024 Conservative government

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Christopher Pincher

Minister of State (Minister for Europe and the Americas)

Part of Brexit

22nd January 2020 London

Living in the EU: an update on your rights as a UK national

A man speaking at the front of a room to a large group of people.
An outreach event in Aarhus for UK nationals in Denmark, hosted by the British Embassy in Copenhagen.

At the end of January, the UK will leave the EU. Although the UK will begin a new kind of relationship with Europe, your rights as a UK national living in the EU are protected for life. If you live in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, your rights are also protected for life.

Our embassies are working with EU countries to ensure that you continue to get the support and advice you need.

If you live in Ireland, your rights are already protected under the Common Travel Area agreement and you do not need to take any further action.

What happens next

You can continue to live and work in the EU as you do now because the Withdrawal Agreement (the ‘divorce deal’ between the UK and EU) protects the rights of UK Nationals already living in the EU, and those moving there before 31 December 2020.

Over the coming months, each EU member state will confirm its arrangements for registering UK nationals. This is likely to be a simple administrative process, and we are urging member states and the EU to make it as easy as possible – just like the UK’s Settlement Scheme for EU nationals.

But there are some actions you should take now in preparation. You should:

  • ensure that you are registered under the current system in your country of residence
  • check your access to healthcare
  • ensure your passport and other documents (such as an ID card issued by your member state) are valid, and renew them now if not
  • sign up for alerts to the Living in Guide for your country – we will let you know when you need to take further action

Go to your Living in Guide to find out how to complete these actions in your country of residence and sign up for alerts.

A woman speaking to a large group of people.
The British Embassy in Berlin hosts an event for UK nationals in Germany in March 2019.

Finding support

Over the coming weeks and months, our embassies will continue to work with UK nationals to help you understand the actions you need to take. You will see information on social media, including online Q&A’s where you can ask questions. We will also continue a range of activities and partnerships with employers and organisations where you live.

And we will continue to provide up-to-date information via our Living in Guides to help you stay informed.

Further questions

Will my rights to live and work in the EU change?

No. Your rights to continue living and working in the EU are protected as long as you continue to live in your country of residence.

How long do I need to have lived in the EU to keep my rights?

As long as you move permanently to an EU country before 31 December 2020, regardless of the length time you’ve been in that country you can continue living and working there.

What is the Implementation/Transition Period and how does it affect me?

This is the period between 1 February and 31 December 2020. During this period, you can continue to live, work and move to the EU as you do now. Anyone already living or moving to the EU before 31 December 2020 will keep their residency, healthcare and pension rights.

What is a ‘no deal’ Brexit in December 2020 and does it affect me?

Citizens’ rights are protected in the Withdrawal Agreement (the ‘divorce deal’ between the UK and EU). What is now being negotiated between the UK and the EU is the future trade relationship. This does not affect your rights as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement to continue living and working in the EU.

Three people talking to a room full of people.
Apulia outreach meeting in September 2019 for UK nationals in Italy.

Find out more: go to the Living in Guide for your country and sign up for alerts.

31 comments on “Living in the EU: an update on your rights as a UK national

  1. Thank you for your comments. We cannot reply to comments individually, but your queries and concerns have been noted, and will inform our future communications. For the latest guidance, we recommend that you continue to check the Living in Guide for the country you live.

  2. We are under retirement age have owned a house in Spain for 7 years. Left the UK with the interior of early retirement to Spain. Then I got Ill and cannot get private healthcare to secure our residency. So no home in uk but have healthcare, no healthcare in in Spain but have a home. What are our options?

  3. What healthcare arrangements will be in place for British citizens who wish to spend more than 3 months a year in Spain but not move there permanently? They are required to register for residency if staying for more than three months. I was advised by the EHIC official in UK that the EHIC card currently covers for healthcare for up to six months. What will replace this? What evidence of cover for healthcare can be presented to Spanish authorities when applying for residence? I was advised that the S1 form for UK citizens receiving state pension is only issued if the person intends to move permanently to Spain. What arrangements will be made for pensioners wanting to spend up to six months in Spain? What about people who are below pensionable age?

  4. The statement begins “your rights as a UK national living in the EU are protected for life.”

    It later says, “Your rights to continue living and working in the EU are protected AS LONG AS you continue to live in your country of residence.”

    If I moved, say from the Netherlands to France, I would presumably still alive and my rights would therefore be protected according to the first statement. Or would they is the question, as the later statement completely contradicts the first one.

    As this is apparently supposed to reassure those of us living and moving between various EU countries, it would be appreciated if the information made some sense.

  5. We are confused about the rights of UK residents who own property in Spain in which they live each year up to the maximum 180 days covered by taxation rules. When buying property we had to register for NIE and we are also on the local Padron, own a Spanish registered car and pay the appropriate road taxes, insurance, ITV etc. As UK residents we still have our UK driving licences but last year applied for a Spanish Driving Permit as advised in anticipation of Brexit. However, as we are not full-time resident in Spain for tax purposes, will we be considered to be ‘tourists’ or ‘holiday makers’ after Brexit and therefore subject to 90 days stay in any one period of 180 days? It will be futile for people like us to continue owning property in which we can only live for 90 days! We take nothing from the economy but put a lot in.

  6. What about driving licenses? Do we have until the 31st to change over?

    Do we have to change them over?

  7. Will I be able to use my Cyprus id to travel to UK in April and renew my British passport when I get there?

    1. The process at the moment is that they have to be sent back to the UK for renewals. That has been done for many years.

  8. We live in Portugal for the last 11 years we have our permanente residents .My husband has his UK Government pension & a S1 healthcare here i was add on to the s1 form as his family member as i don,t have any income of my own as i am now not of pensionable age because the UK extend the age limit for women to receive there pension.
    I now have to go private to see a doctor & pay for health care cover insurance now ,when i was aloud to use the portuguese healthcare (NHS)on my husband S1.
    I know it was our choice to leave the UK for a better affordable way of life.

  9. Many things here are contrary to everything that we have heard before. For example, the statement seems to imply this we can live and work ‘in the EU’ as before. But that’s not correct, is it? Right of onward movement within the EU will cease for British citizens as far as I understand it. Please clarify.

  10. I am living in one country. I want to sell my house,that takes time then and wish to move to another. Please tell me if that is possible after December 2020?
    You also write that you are are urging member states and the EU to make it the registration of British subjects as easy as possible.
    First point is the EU has already said this mater is for each member state of the EU and not for the institution of the EU. I am puzzled as to why you are approaching the EU over this mater.
    The second point I have to raise of this statement is that I feel, after reading the UK’s EU Settlement Scheme, is that the UK are making it complicated. If any country within the EU copy the UK expect British citizens not to be content.

  11. You say :

    Will my rights to live and work in the EU change?
    No. Your rights to continue living and working in the EU are protected as long as you continue to live in your country of residence.

    I love and work in Spain. My family are in France in our house. Will I be allowed to go back and live there in the same way after brexit as now or should I move back there now to preserve that right ?

  12. Have been a resident in Spain for 13 years have healthcare S1 NHS for 5 years and recently received a letter stating i will no longer be covered after 2020 but reading a statement above it states i will be covered to say the least i am confused so could you please tell me how i stand come 2020

  13. I’m afraid the statement by the Minister that nothing has changed is incorrect as regards to Spain – Spain National Police now require 24 months proof of salary or pension as one of the requirements to renew/update a residence certificate (apparently in force since Nov’19). I last renewed my residence in 2015, which was good for 5 years. I am just short of starting to receive my pension, and have not worked in Spain the last 2 years, so no longer qualify to retire in my own home in Spain (been here since 2002). I have nothing in UK to go to. London needs to talk to Madrid.

  14. I’m a translator living in Spain. I pay tax and social security in Spain. I currently work for clients around the world including in EU countries. Will I be allowed to continue to work for these EU-based clients as I do now?

  15. We have Residency in Portugal, having lived here for almost 3 years. We no longer have any financial links with the UK (ie no property or income). Will visiting the UK for holidays remain as it is now? Will we need to have our Portuguese Residency certificates to pass through passport control?

  16. “your rights as a UK national living in the EU are protected for life”, is stated in the first paragraph in bold. If correct that sounds great.

    I’m a British citizen and currently resident in Spain. My wife, who is not from the EU, and my children also have their Spanish residency through me as per the current EU rights.

    Can you confirm that my family will continue to be allowed to travel to the UK with me without a visa though our EU rights?

    Can you also confirm that we will be allowed to relocate to any other EU country without any visa or work permits as is currently the case through our EU rights?

    1. With regard to your last point, the Withdrawal Agreement provisions only apply to the country that you are officially resident in on 31 December 2020. You will not have free-rein to live and work in any other EU country unless you fulfil their appropriate requirements at that time. In other words, if your work dries up in Spain, you would not have an automatic right to move across the border to Portugal or France and set up home there.

  17. We have a apartment in tenerife and spend 6month in winter….what do we need to do?

  18. What are the rights for a person NOT state pension age entitled to claim S1 for workers as the DWP website states that it is no longer possible to claim this? I exercise free movement to Spain but currently work for and pay taxes through a UK employer

  19. This seems to be misleading:
    Will my rights to live and work in the EU change?
    No. Your rights to continue living and working in the EU are protected as long as you continue to live in your country of residence.
    Surely my rights will change because I will no longer have the right to go and live in the rest of the EU.
    Please clarify.

    1. I don’t believe the statement is misleading Steven as the issue it’s dealing with says, ‘As long as you continue to live in the country of residence’ your rights are protected’.
      It seems your asking a question on a different issue.

      1. I think the government need to give more accurate information. I understand my rights to live in Spain are protected as long as I continue to live here. However, at the moment I have the right to live elsewhere in The EU. This will change after December 31st. Therefore my rights to continue living and working in the EU most definitely will change.

  20. I have a question : With regard to the above statement regarding How long do I need to have lived in the EU to maintain my rights – I can see the reply stating that as long as you move permanently to the country of residency before the end of December 2020 then rights are protected but can you please tell me what the position is with regard to non habitual residents in Portugal. Will our rights be protected or do we now have to move here on a permanent basis?

    1. Non habitual residency is a ten year tax break, which you can’t get unless you are already a resident in Portugal. As far as I know, you can’t have residency in two places, so you have to choose to be in one or the other. You need to be in Portugal for 183 days and have your permanent home here. I am not a professional accountant, somplease take advice on this.

  21. I think it fair to say that everyone is concerned about what will happen to us in the future.

    We seem to have a specific issue living in Catalonia with regards to residency issues. We have been resident for just over 7 years and have been advised to update our residents cards wit( the word ‘permanente’. This appears to be an issue where we are I would suggest due to the tension between catalunia and Spain. We have to deal with the Policia National, Spanish police, who seem to be particularly difficult. We have both had 3 appointments each and each time have been refused this update. We are now very worried that when we have to update to the TIE the Spanish police will take the same stance!

    Is there anything that can reassure us this will not be the case please?

    1. Do you have the green NIE? That is what is given to permanent residents. It should just say “residente comunitario desde…”.

  22. Your statement ‘anybody moving to the EU before December 2020 will keep the residency,healthcare and pension rights’ Please clarify, any person NOT of state pension age , prior to December 2020 and taking up residency in an EU country. Will still be entitled to claim the S1 healthcare paid for by the UK? I was under the impression the government were only confirming continuation of this type of scheme until December 2020.

    1. We are UK nationals living in Spain with two children ages 15 and 12, the youngest who was born here. I would like to know how they will be regarded when it comes to going to university if they remain British citizens. Will they have to pay ‘non-EU international student’ fees, despite having lived in Spain all their lives and having received all their education in Spain. In other words, to be treated the same as Spanish students, will they have to renounce their British citizenship and become Spanish nationals since Spain does not recognize dual nationality?

Comments are closed.