The long tail of Brexit is evident in its continuing impacts.
A survey was conducted by the universities of Lancaster and Birmingham between December 2021 and January 2022. They canvassed 1,328 British nationals living in the EU.
According to one of the study’s leaders, the survey showed that ‘if the public narrative suggests Brexit is done and dusted, it has brought deep transformations to the lives of British citizens in the EU and EEA.’
Are expats transient or a settled population?
This same study shows that, of the respondents, nearly 60% had been resident in their host country for five years or more, and expressed the intention of wanting to stay.
“Many expats are also economically active and socially integrated in their countries of residence,” says this report.
The impact on travel plans and family members
In a post-Brexit world, 29% said that their travel and movement plans have been affected ‘a great deal’. Some have moved to their host countries to protect their residency rights.
A significant number of respondents in this study indicate that there is a substantial amount of inter-familial chaos, whereby not all family members have the same residency status. For example, if a spouse is an EU national.
Family was a top priority, and the survey showed evidence of multi-generational settlement.
How many British born people are living in an EU country?
According to UN figures, there are around 1.2 million. Of these, approximately 800,000 are working, and it includes their dependants. Figures can differ, depending on the source.
The largest expat British communities live in Spain, followed by Ireland, France, and Germany.
What has changed since Brexit for UK citizens living in the EU?
After Brexit, you can stay in the EU, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland without a visa for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. For any trip longer than 90 days, you have to apply for the appropriate visa and residence permit for the country you are living in. This is current as at 31st October 2022.
More recently, other aspects of life are also changing.
For example, Brits living in Mallorca need to reapply for driving licences. This affects those people who did not exchange their British driving licence for a Spanish one by 30th April of this year. It means retaking their driving test.
Passport and entry requirements for the EU
British citizens travelling to the EU must ensure that their passport satisfies two separate requirements:
It must be valid for at least three months after the date the traveller intends to leave the EU country they are visiting. This can be ascertained by looking at the passport’s expiry date.
It must have been issued within the previous 10 years. This can be checked by looking at the passport’s date of issue.
British citizens can no longer use the border control lanes for EU citizens and, usually, must have their passport stamped upon entry/exit to the EU. EU countries’ border officials may ask to see supporting documents such as an invitation letter, proof of accommodation and finances, and a return or round-trip ticket when assessing whether to give permission to enter the country as a visitor.
New EU Entry/Exit and ETIAS systems
A new EU Entry/Exit System (EES) is scheduled to be introduced by the end of May 2023. This will be an automated IT system for registering travellers from the UK and other non-EU countries each time they cross an EU external border. Travellers will need to scan their passports and travel documents at an automated self-service kiosk prior to crossing the border.
The system will work in conjunction with the new ETIAS authorisation system, scheduled to be in operation by November 2023. British and other non-EU national citizens travelling to the EU for short stays will be required to obtain an ETIAS travel authorisation. This will be valid for three-year periods or until the holder’s passport expires (if earlier) and will initially cost €7.
How attached are Brits to their host EU country?
75% said that they had a strong attachment to the EU, and 59% expressed the same attachment for their host country.
Are British people choosing to stay in Europe or return to the UK?
Many Brits chose Spain as a sunny retirement place, for example. But, more and more, property agents and property complex managers are reporting that British citizens are ‘selling up in droves in the region’. This is largely due to the new 90-day ruling post Brexit.
One retirement housing complex owner says that:
“Many owners on the complex I run who have owned their properties for 20 to 30 years, and never previously rented them out, are now selling up because they can’t use them as often as they used to. The irony is that most of them destroyed their own retirement dreams by voting for Brexit. Even more ironically, this is the only Brexit benefit for me personally, as there are more properties becoming available to my company to rent to tourists.”
“Returning to the UK after living abroad – even if you love living overseas, there might come a time when you decide to move back to the UK. In the time you’ve been away, there might have been changes in the UK you need to prepare for,” says ageuk.
Healthcare arrangements are also one of the key factors for retirees deciding whether to return and relocate back to the UK, or stay in Europe.
The Rise of Digital Nomads
Although the revised residency requirements might negatively affect retirees, there are signs of hope for others.
The Spanish government will be introducing a new year-long visa aimed at third party nationals who are digital nomads, which will also apply to relatives. This is a clear inducement to bring remote workers into Spain. “The even better news is that it can be extended for up to five years,” says Expat Focus.
Relocating between Europe and the UK – in both directions
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