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Brexit:The Other Side

April 10, 2016 9:31 PM

I'd like to draw your attention to the web site http://register2stay.eu. Please find an excerpt below.

It is written for those citizens living in EU States beyond the UK. It includes sections on Key-Facts - Expat Facts and a Reading list.

The administrator, Sir John Ramsden, is a retired ambassador who lives part of the year in Provence.

The legal challenge for the vote in this Referendum for all British Citizens in the EU regardless of the length of absence from the UK is well under way.

Remember The Electoral Commission advises you to register to vote by 16th May

Effects of Brexit on British citizens in EU countries:


A) Common to all countries
Negotiation process

The Cabinet Office paper on the withdrawal process says:

5.9 Many UK citizens would want any negotiations to secure their continued right to work, reside and own property in other EU states, and to access public services such as medical treatment in those states. UK citizens resident abroad, among them those who have retired to Spain, would not be able to assume that these rights will be guaranteed. At the very least, any terms which the UK seeks for its own citizens would have to be offered to EU citizens wishing to come to or stay in this country.

The same paper makes clear that the negotiations, which would have to cover a multitude of other issues, could take years to complete. There is likely to be a prolonged period of uncertainty, with no guarantee as to the eventual outcome.


One must assume that UK citizens will continue to have visa free travel to the Schengen area for periods of up to 3 months, on the basis of reciprocity for EU citizens coming to the UK. Will we be still be able to use the EEA/EFTA channel when entering the EU? This remains to be seen.

Residence rights of existing expats in other EU countries -and EU citizens in the UK - would have to be negotiated as a matter of urgency. Most EU countries have restrictions on the right of non-EU citizens to reside for more than a short period (eg 3 months, in the case of France); to work; or to bring in family members. Unless the UK opted to stay in the EEA (like Norway or Switzerland, accepting EU rules with no say on their content); and/or the UK was willing to maintain existing rights for EU citizens, British expats would be treated as other non-EU nationals (details set out country by country below)


For a summary of the legal position see: http://infacts.org/brexit-affect-britons-healthcare-rights-2/

In essence, current rights include:

Access to healthcare anywhere in the EU.

The European Health Insurance Card, (available free of charge), which allows visitors to seek health care in other EU countries.

The right to seek medical treatment in any other EU country (eg if NHS waiting times are medically unacceptable and the same treatment is available abroad).

Access to local healthcare for working people on the same basis as citizens of that country.

British old age pensioners living in another EU country have the right to publicly funded healthcare, ultimately paid for by the NHS (OAPs abroad significantly reduce the burden on NHS capacity).

Presumably, some reciprocal rights would eventually be negotiated but it is very uncertain what these would be and they could well fall far short of the existing rules, increasing the cost and administrative difficulty for Brits travelling, studying, working or retiring in an EU country

Benefits and Pensions

The UK benefits system currently provides some coverage for people moving to an EU country; and State pensions are not frozen when you move to an EU country. The system is less generous to people who move to (most) other parts of the world. There must be a likelihood that the rules for those who move to EU countries would be leveled down, in the event of Brexit.

As EU citizens, Brits can access the benefits systems of other EU countries on the same basis as home country nationals. Most EU countries rely much more on contributory benefits. Access to the system for non-EU nationals can be conditional on lengthy qualifying periods.

Legal protection

As EU citizens, British expats are protected against all forms of discrimination on grounds of nationality. For example they are currently protected from measures aimed at foreign owners of secondary homes. Such a tax in France was recently struck down by the EU courts. Read Article

EU citizens have access to the European Small Claims procedure, which is designed to simplify and speed up cross-border claims of up to €2000.

Mutual recognition of qualifications

It may be harder for UK qualifications to be accepted, as EU mutual recognition rules would not apply and access to certain professions may be more limited.


An EU directive will shortly require EU banks to allow residents in other EU countries to open new accounts. This can be a difficult process for foreigners.

Driving licences.

At present, a UK driving licence is valid anywhere in the EU (with minor exceptions in some countries, eg for licences of very long duration). Non-EU citizens may be required to take local driving tests after a relatively short period (eg 1 year in France).


UK students would no longer benefit from the Erasmus scheme, which helps them to study in universities anywhere in the EU. They would not have the automatic right to study in the EU for the same fee as an EU national; and might face restrictions on entry.

It might also be harder for students from long-term expat families to access university education in the UK.

B) Country specific rules
For a good summary see; http://www.connexionfrance.com/Brexit-expats-expatriates-EU-referendum-12169-news-article.html

In essence:

  • You would become an étranger (foreigner) and not Européen. As such, you would lose a wide range of legal protections and rights
  • Non -EU or EEA nationals need a carte de sejour (residence permit) for any stay of over 3 months.
  • Unless there was a deal on the rights of existing expats, you would need to apply for a carte de séjourto live in France and then reapply annually, like other non-EU residents. There are conditions eg proving sufficient wealth or means of support (eg a skill) not to be a burden on social security.
  • As a pensioner, you would have no automatic right to become a French resident, even if you met the means test. You would need to apply for a one-year renewable permit (spouses apply individually).
  • As a worker, unless you are in a high-level category, you would have to apply for a renewable one-year permit. Your family might have to wait 5 years to join you.
  • Most standard residents' cards must be renewed annually. After 5 years, you could apply for a 10-year card.
  • You might be asked to take a language test and have to take lessons if not up to standard. Rules on this will vary according to your circumstances.
  • It is not clear what would happen if you already have a 'permanent EU resident's card' (available to EU citizens who can prove five years' residence). This might help you establish a right to permanent residence after a Brexit - but nobody knows.
  • Income support for pensioners is only available to non-EU nationals if they have had a worker's residence permit for 10 years or have paid into a French pension for 10 years or more. Income support is only available to those who have had a worker's residence permit for five years or more.
  • Britain would no longer issue S1 forms allowing British pensioners to have French healthcare paid for by the UK. This might mean they would have to take out private health policies (whose cost would be likely to rise steeply), or it could mean tougher checks on pensioners' means to make sure they are not a 'burden' to France, before allowing them to join the French system on the basis of paying in 8% of their income above €9,611.
  • If they did not have S1s then British pensioners in France might have social charges at 7.4% levied on all British pension income.
  • Brits would no longer be protected from discriminatory taxes aimed at foreigners- eg the levy on secondary homes recently struck down by the EU courts.
  • Brits may not be able to vote in

    local elections

    or become councillors.




Long-term visas

  • Unless you're a citizen of the EU/EEA or Switzerland you'll need a longer-term national visa (visado nacionale) if you intend to live, work or study in Spain for longer than three months. There are different types of permit for workers, students and retirement
  • You can apply through the Spanish consulate or embassy before you come to Spain. There is usually a non-refundable fee of around EUR 60. Allow plenty of time for your application to be processed.
  • To get a work permit, you first need to find a job. Your employer then applies for a permit and may have to show that there are no suitable Spanish candidates. The process can take up to 8 months. permits are renewable annually.
  • There is a fast tack procedure with preferential treatment for investors, entrepreneurs, highly qualified professionals and researchers. However there are conditions, for example, investors may need to spend EUR 500,000 on a Spanish property.
  • Family reunification: once you have been living legally in Spain for a year and have official confirmation for a further year, you can apply for family members (eg spouse, partner or children under 18) to join you.
  • Pensioners: Non-EU citizens need a visado de residencia from the Spanish consulate prior to traveling to Spain. This is needed when to apply for residency on arrival. It provides Spanish officials with permission to examine your financial situation. You are likely to be asked for documentary proof of your pension, other income and of any property you own in Spain.

Permanent residency in Spain

  • After five uninterrupted years of residence, you can apply for a long-term residence permit. This allows you to stay indefinitely, working or otherwise, under the same conditions as Spanish citizens. You have to show you can provide for yourself and your family and have public or private health insurance.
  • You can apply for Spanish nationality after 10 years of residence in Spain. You can also acquire Spanish nationality through marriage or through having Spanish parents even if they were born outside Spain.

Studying in Spain

  • As a non EU national, If you want to study, train, do an internship or volunteer in Spain you first have to find a course or programme that will accept you. You may need to make private arrangements for health care


Non-EU/EEA pensioners may have to provide proof of private health cover before being granted a visa. Some non EU countries have bilateral agreements with Spain covering pensioners but this would have to be negotiated.

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