Living in the EU: prepare for Brexit
Information for UK nationals living in the EU provided by GOV.UK
Last updated 19 December 2019
For information on paperwork required to live and work in Spain click HERE
UK nationals in the EU
The Withdrawal Agreement
The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and provides for a deal on citizens’ rights.
You will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement if you are a UK national lawfully residing in another EU country at the end of the implementation period, on 31 December 2020.
The Withdrawal Agreement will secure your rights and will allow you to stay in the EU country where you live after Brexit. You will have broadly the same entitlements to work, study and access public services and benefits as you do now.
The Withdrawal Agreement sets out an implementation period lasting until 31 December 2020. This is a time-limited period before Brexit-related changes take place.
During the implementation period, your rights and those of your family members will not change. You will be able to continue to live, work and study in the EU as you do now.
The rules on travelling to the EU will remain the same during this period. You can move to a different country in the EU in the same way as you can now.
Residency documents and status
You and your family may need to apply for a residence status to confirm that you were already resident in the EU country you live in before 31 December 2020. You will have until at least 30 June 2021 to do this.
The EU country where you live will set up a system for applying for a residence status. The application will be short, simple and either free of charge, or cost no more than applying for a similar document, for example a national identity card or passport.
You will have until at least 30 June 2021 to submit your application. We will share information on how to apply in our Living in guides when it is available.
Permanent residency documents
You will be able to exchange valid permanent residence documents for a new residence document free of charge before the implementation period ends. This also applies to valid domestic immigration documents that confirm your permanent right to live in a country. You may need to provide proof of identity and undergo criminality and security checks.
Your close family members will be able to join you after the end of the implementation period under current EU rules. This applies to spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents. The relationship must have begun before the end of the implementation period.
If you are outside your EU country of residence after the implementation period, your children, born or adopted, will also be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.
Moving to another EU country
During the implementation period, you can still move to another EU country. You will have until at least 30 June 2021 to apply for a residence status in that country, if you need to.
Travelling in the EU
If there is a deal, there will be no changes to the rules on travel during the implementation period.
If there’s no deal, you will need at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe (not including Ireland). If you renewed your current UK passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years will not count towards the 6 months needed.
Find out more about passport rules for travel to Europe after Brexit.
Travelling to the UK
You can travel to the UK at any time. This will not change after Brexit.
Returning to the UK
Your right to return to live, work and access benefits and services, such as healthcare, in the UK will not change after Brexit.
Your existing close family members will be able to join you in the UK and apply to the EU Settlement Scheme until 31 March 2022 as long as the relationship began before Brexit.
New partners and other dependent family members, who have lived with you in the EU during the implementation period, will be able to join you in the UK until 31 December 2020. They will also be eligible to apply to the scheme.
Your children’s rights to British citizenship will not change after Brexit.
Read the guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, tax and access to services.
Continuing education in the EU
If there is a deal and you live in an EU country before the end of the implementation period, you will have the same education rights as nationals of that country.
If there’s no deal, studying in the EU after Brexit and associated fees depends on the requirements of your host country and educational institution. Contact them for advice.
Read guidance for UK nationals studying in the EU.
The government Erasmus+ and ESC underwrite guarantee means funding is available to UK organisations to support their students to continue their Erasmus+ placement in their host EU country. Contact your home university to check if you can continue your Erasmus+ placement in the EU. If you have not already started your placement, you may not be able to study abroad. If you have started, you may not get free healthcare, student finance or benefits.
Read guidance for studying in the EU after Brexit.
Recognising professional qualifications
Recognition decisions made on qualifications obtained in the UK or the EU before the end of the implementation period are not affected.
If you have not had your professional qualifications recognised, you will have until the end of the implementation period to submit an application under the current rules.
Owning or renting property in the EU
Brexit will not change the rules regarding property ownership, rent, taxation and shared ownership. However, if you are buying a new property some EU countries have different property acquisition laws for EU citizens and non-EU citizens. Check with local authorities how these might apply to you.
Inheritance tax and wills
Wills made under UK law will remain valid after Brexit. This includes wills that apply to property in the EU. Property abroad will continue to be subject to local laws.
Brexit will not change any existing UK rules for inheritance tax.
Brexit will not change the double taxation arrangements which the UK has with all EU countries.
If there is a deal, driving licence rules will stay the same during the implementation period.
Voting in UK elections whilst living overseas
You are entitled to register to vote in UK Parliamentary elections as an overseas voter for up to 15 years after you were last registered to vote in the UK.
UK nationals in prison in an EU country
Changes for UK nationals in prison will depend on the approach of each EU country.
Find out about transferring to a UK prison after Brexit.
The current rights of UK and Irish nationals in the Common Travel Area will not be affected by Brexit. View the Common Travel Area guidance.