Brexit Clock Ticking On UK Expats’ Finances

The deal to delay full Brexit for another 20 months is reassuring for expats and would-be expats, but the clock is still ticking to get ready in time.
For Britons looking to move to Europe, this extends the cut-off date for establishing residency and locking in current benefits in an EU country to 31 December 2020. For those already living there, this offers an extra 20 months in which to bolster your position by building up residency history.

In many EU countries there are beneficial tax regimes for British retirees with residency rights. These benefits are detailed in a new book ‘Retiring to Europe’ and website retiringtoeurope.com.

“The proposed transition effectively ‘pauses’ Brexit to enable citizens and businesses to prepare for incoming changes,” said Jason Porter, director of specialist expat financial advisory firm in Europe, Blevins Franks. “During that time, very little is set to change. UK nationals will have the same freedom of movement and access to benefits as today, as will EU citizens in the UK.”

Importantly, agreement has been reached on keeping current healthcare and pensions rights for British citizens living in EU countries after Brexit.
British financial services companies that provide personal pension and insurance payments to expats can avoid a regulatory ‘cliff edge’, gaining more time to establish solutions to continue cross-border transactions.

EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, confirmed that UK citizens “who arrive during the transition period will receive the same rights and guarantees as those who arrived before the day of Brexit.”

“While this proposed grace period is reassuring news,” said Jason Porter, “nothing has been finalised. Even if it goes ahead, the clock is still ticking for expats to get ready in time.
“To secure the right to remain and access existing benefits post-Brexit, UK nationals need to be ‘lawfully residing’ within their EU country of choice before the cut-off date. Those planning on relocating should do so as soon as possible to maximise their time in that country. Those already there who have not acquired permanent residency – available after a period of five continuous years – should take steps to formalise their residency status as soon as possible.”

Although December 2020 seems a long way off, the risk of being caught in an administrative backlog for residency increases as the deadline draws closer. According to Jason Porter, it is advisable to make use of the 20-month transition as an opportunity to ramp up the time spent as a settled resident rather than as a window to apply for residency.

“In the meantime,” said Jason Porter, “expats and those planning a move to Europe should work to the shortest deadline possible to ensure their situation is as secure as it can be, whatever happens with Brexit over the coming months.”

A new, full-colour, 276-page softback book ‘Retiring to Europe’ considers the pros and cons of the popular options for relocation. It examines in detail the tax and other financial implications of residency in ten European countries, alongside information on climate, lifestyle, language, travel connections, the affordability of property and access to healthcare.

A related website www.retiringtoeurope.com links to important updates on the Brexit process as this affects those planning a move to Europe. At the site readers can request a hard copy of the book, priced £9.95, or can download it free of charge.