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Brexit, what to do if you’re an ex-pat living in Europe

Jasmine Birtles 27th Nov 2019 2 Comments

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Everything connected to Brexit is uncertain at the moment, but it’s particularly tricky for people who have moved to another EU country to live.

There are 4.5 million British expats in EU countries and a significant number of those have retired to that country – particularly France, Spain, Portugal and Italy. Their pensions, healthcare and general status in their country of choice is all up in the air until a deal is struck.

Here’s the situation if we get a no-deal, hard Brexit…


your pension

Senior couple living abroad

There are hundreds of thousands British expats on pensions living in EU countries. Currently there’s a reciprocal arrangement between the UK and those countries for those pensioners to get their UK pensions paid and updated annually.

It still hasn’t been agreed what will happen when we leave. If there’s a hard Brexit – i.d. no deal – then these arrangements could break down and expats might miss out on the annual updating. In other words, they could be on lower pensions than those in the UK.


Your future pension

British Expats looking out to sea

If you are currently working in an EU country – or have done in the past – and contributed to a UK pension, it’s possible that you won’t get that money when you retire. N.B. this is only ‘possible’ according to leaked documents. It’s not definite by any means.

The EU has rules that pensions from EU countries must be paid into EU accounts. Currently we are in the EU so that’s OK. However, if we leave with no deal and UK firms can’t get access to the accounts people have paid into, then UK-based companies won’t be able to make the payments.


your healthcare

British expat on beach with dog

There’s general confusion over expats’ access to healthcare after a hard Brexit.

If a proper deal is struck then it’s likely that expats would get the access to healthcare in their country as before. Without a deal, though, things are much more uncertain as that would mean that  the current draft agreement between us and EU countries will be voided. However, the healthcare elements could be kept via a separate agreement with the EU and/or the host country…perhaps.


your mortgage

Older couple on the beach

If you have a mortgage for your home in the EU country you live in and you earn your money there then your payments won’t be affected.

If you took out the mortgage in the UK, though, your payments might go down as Sterling is likely to drop more after a hard Brexit. So if you’re earning in Euros and paying out in Sterling you’ll be doing well!

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5 years ago

Keep calm, Brexit will be great.

Michael Moore
Michael Moore
5 years ago

Doesn’t really tell us anything more than we already suspected.
In truth, if the current arrangements for expats are changed in
any detrimental way then it only goes to show that the whole
fiasco is typical of the mindset of the Euro leaders (Germany),
which is if they do not prevail you will suffer.
When was it ever any different, and who really believed otherwise?

Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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