The decision to leave the EU lead many to believe that UK residents would reconsider moving to Europe after Brexit.
However, results from a global moving trends report have indicated a 45% rise in move requests from European countries.
This includes those British expats looking to move back to the UK, before the rules change.
White and Company will look at what the different options are for moving to Europe and see what implications Brexit could have for people looking to move to or from the UK, both before and after the deadline.
We’ll also be looking ahead at what impact this is likely to have on the removals industry itself.
What Does Brexit Mean For Moving To Europe after Brexit?
— Department for Exiting the EU (@DExEUgov) January 9, 2019
As the revised Brexit deadline of 12 April 2019 fast approaches much remains up in the air.
However, those looking to move to Europe after Brexit will take little comfort in the lack of certainty that surrounds the ongoing negotiations.
Whether you’re buying a holiday ski chalet in France or permanently moving to Spain, Brexit will undoubtedly have an impact on your decision.
Depending on the outcome of the ongoing negotiations it could affect, in the short term atleast, any of the following:
- Travel and holidays
- Living and working abroad
- Retiring overseas
- Accessing pensions
- Driving in Europe
Moving To Europe After Brexit: Now Or Never?
Far from deterring British expats from moving to Europe, the Financial Times reported last year that the vote appears to have acted as a catalyst for many people to take a leap of faith.
It appears the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and its ramifications for our financial and family interests has encouraged Brits to start thinking about the immediate possibility of moving to or from the UK.
The process of moving to another European country is relatively straightforward at present.
The right to free movement guarantees access to foreign labour markets and restrictions on buying property are also few and far between.
That could be all set to change however.
For many of us who have weighed up the pros and cons of moving abroad before but are yet to take the plunge, it could be a case of now or never.
Stick Or Twist? Moving Before 31 October 2019
What’s happened so far?
On the 14th November last year, the Prime Minister announced a draft Brexit withdrawal agreement. The draft document is 585 pages long and sets out how the UK intends to leave the EU.
This document only sets out the proposed financial settlement, details of the transition period, and citizens’ rights. It does not set out the basis for any future trading relationship or other areas of cooperation.
The draft agreement will need to be approved by both the UK Parliament and the EU Parliament.
On 15 January, MPs voted to reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
The UK government continued to pursue talks with the EU with a view to reaching a deal – including on the controversial ‘back-stop’ arrangement – before the original deadline of 29 March.
However, Members of Parliament could not approve of the revised deal presented by the Prime Minister.
After a holding of series of indicative votes on alternative options it failed to agree on any of the four options proposed.
The Prime Minister had originally been granted a two week extension by the EU to 12 April 2019 before asking for a lengthier extension.
The new date for Brexit was pushed back to 31 October 2019, although a deal could in theory be agreed before then.
What’s happening now?
In March, MPs voted against leaving the EU without a deal, but this vote was not legally binding and so there is still a risk of a so-called ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
Many MPs have insisted they would not allow this to happen.
However unless mechanisms are put in place this will happen as a matter of course unless the Prime Minister can:
- Push her deal through by agreeing a compromise with the leader of the opposition which gains sufficient support in the Commons, or
- Applies for a further extension and seeks to negotiate a completely new Brexit deal.
Other possible options on the table which would delay Brexit include:
- Holding a binding referendum on the options available (although this would be suvject to the Electoral Commission agreeing on the questions and options).
- Asking MPs to hold an early general election in order to change the make-up of the House and break the deadlock
What we do know about future rights to movement already?
Last year the UK and EU negotiating teams agreed on a transition period. This will ensure UK citizens retain the same rights as before Brexit for an extra 21 months after the deadline, until 31 December 2020.
The draft withdrawal agreement says the transition can be extended, but only once and for an agreed time period.
As part of this agreement you can apply for ‘settled status’. Provided you are legally resident in an EU country you will retain your right to reside, work, study or open a business. This will also extend to other rights such as access certain healthcare benefits and state pensions.
This was not extended to include the right to free movement however, which will end on 31 October 2019. Therefore, if you wish to retain those rights you may need to move to your intended country before the deadline.
No onward movement agreement
Another concern expressed by UK citizens residing in an EU country is that their rights are only based on the country in which they are currently resident. For example, a UK citizen resident in Spain will have no right to move to Germany after Brexit.
Moving To Europe After Brexit: Moving After 31 October 2019
The revised withdrawal agreement could still yet be considered by Parliament and passed, or an alternative could be reached.
It is impossible to say therefore, in certain terms, what moving arrangements will be like post-Brexit.
Although the cost of going on holiday in Europe might go up the right to go there is unlikely to be affected. The same cannot be said however for moving there permanently.
Travel and holidays
View this post on Instagram
The cover of the #British passport will be returning to blue after the #UK leaves the #EuropeanUnion. After Brexit, the #UK travel document will no longer be required to conform to #EU standards. So in a move symbolising #Britain’s national identity, the #UKGovernment has decided to change the standard EU burgundy colour to a new blue and gold design. The new, unique blue #passport will be one of the most secure travel documents in the world, with a raft of new and updated security features and technologies to protect against fraud and forgery. For example, the current paper based picture page will be replaced with a new, super strong plastic polycarbonate material and will be more difficult to alter. #Brexit #Passport #Passports #ukpassport #passportready #passportphoto
The UK Government has insisted that free movement will end after Brexit, although migration will continue. Any permanent moves abroad made after this date are likely to encounter certain restrictions or will have to meet requirements of some kind.
The European Commission has confirmed that you won’t need to apply for a visa if you’re travelling to Europe this year. So those who have purchased holiday homes or are moving to seasonally will be unaffected.
APRIL 2019 UPDATE: On 4 April the European Parliament voted to confirm UK citizens will continue to benefit from visa-free travel to EU Member States, even after the 31 October deadline.
The concessions were approved on the condition that EU migrants travelling to the UK received the same treatment.
The transition period will provide for a two-year cooling off period. But after that the UK could be considered a ‘third country’ and you might have to purchase a visa to get into an EU country, much like citizens from the rest of the world.
Like Australian, Japanese and US visitors to the EU, UK residents will be allowed to stay for 90 days in any 180 day period.
However, from 2021 you may be required to pay a fee of €7 to enter the EU unless this is ruled out.
Living and working abroad
One of the major drivers behind international removals is the opportunity to live in Europe. British people are entitled to live and work in any EU Member state without a visa.
However, this could change on 31 October 2019.
Reciprocal agreements will be needed to secure mutual access to individual labour markets. If not, Brits looking to move to Europe could be asked to obtain a blue card to live and work in an EU country.
These visa rules are likely to be similar to or the same as those currently applied to non-EU residents applying for work in the EU.
Those already living abroad in an EU country are unlikely to be asked to apply for a visa, but could see their access to certain benefits such as healthcare and education restricted.
Retiring overseas and accessing pensions
A lot of people moving to Europe each year do so to retire, with Spain being the most popular destination. Restrictions on freedom of movement could bring about difficulties for those moving to Europe after Brexit in order to retire.
A process which was previously straightforward could become more complex if a working visa is required, seeing as retirees are not intending to work.
One area which appears to have been agreed upon already is pensions.
An agreement was made in principle between the UK and the other 27 Member States, plus Switzerland and Gibraltar with regards to pensions and certain other benefits.
This agreement means retirees moving to or already living in those countries will continue to benefit from the UK government’s ‘triple lock’ after Brexit, in line with inflation.
Driving in Europe
Driving your own vehicle or hiring one in the EU? From 29 March you will need new documentation. Check the new requirements: https://t.co/GiBkOoa4tP #PrepareforEUExit #Brexit pic.twitter.com/cCmrC4sjt6
— Dept for Transport (@transportgovuk) February 1, 2019
A ‘no-deal’ Brexit could have implications for driving in Europe.
UK drivers may need to purchase an international driving permit costing £5.50 to drive in some European countries.
Although the cost associated with this is minimal, should this occur Post Offices could experience a surge in applications.
For those moving to a country permanently (that is intending to live there for longer than 6 months) you will need to apply for a new driving licence in your new country of residence.
However, this does not differ greatly from the current position. You would have to apply for a new licence in most EU countries afer six months anyway.
What’s To Come For The Removals Industry?
A short-term boost in trade?
The uncertainties of Brexit are prompting more people than ever to move to Europe while they can. This could have the positive effect between now and March 2019 of significantly boosting the trade of removals companies.
Removal company operations
Once a withdrawal agreement is agreed, the UK will enter a 21-month transition period. In this period, the UK will no longer be a member of the EU and can start official trade talks.
The existing ‘free-tariff’ trade arrangements have been beneficial for removals companies in the UK, allowing them easy access to the European market.
Unfavourable tariffs or burdensome restrictions could prove a hinderance to removal companies when moving clients to and from Europe,
For example, added paperwork and checks at land borders. Particularly if a removals vehicle must pass through various checkpoints, could create timely delays and prove costly.
It could also have the unintended consequence of making UK removals companies less competitive against European removals companies when UK residents look to move back to the UK.
Of course, the result of the trade negotiations could prove more favourable for removals companies.
However, as with most Brexit issues, they are subject to a degree of uncertainty. It is difficult to say in certain terms what exact effects they will or will not have.
Removal company workers
Freedom of movement has provided for easy access to the UK labour market. Man British companies, large and small, have benefitted from access to skilled EU workers. This includes the removals industry.
With the end of free movement this could prevent access to this skills pool for removals companies. On the other hand, it might create more working or studying opportunities for workers in the UK.
Whatever the outcome of Brexit, removals companies could be in for a busy year.
Need Help Moving To Europe?
If you’re planning on moving overseas but are no sure about what your options are give White & Company a call.
We’ve been moving customers to Europe for over 135 years’. Our friendly and dedicated staff will answer any questions you may have about the process.
Give us a call us on the number listed above. Alternatively, fill out a quick quote form and a member of customer services team will be in touch shortly.
*This article was updated and all information is correct to the author’s knowledge as of 18 April 2019*