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While there is much uncertainty around Brexit, UK expatriates have extra concerns like residency and healthcare. Will it be all change ahead or steady as she goes?

This is a very historic moment for the UK. 43 years after joining the European Community it now starts the process of leaving the EU. This is new territory for us all, and while we hope for a smooth transition there will be a period of uncertainty until the various negotiations are completed and we find out what the changes will be.

Leaving the EU will affect most UK nationals, in varying degrees, whether you live in the UK or abroad. Expatriates living in the EU have extra concerns such as over residency, healthcare, property rights etc.

No-one can be sure exactly what will happen next, but we can put your mind at ease in some key areas.   

It is also worth noting that (according to an IPPR 2010 survey) the country with the most number of British expatriates is Australia. The US, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa are all in the top eight. So while living in an EU country may seem easier, there are plenty of UK nationals living happily outside the EU.

Is there anything I should be doing now?


It is expected to take at least two years, if not longer, to work out the terms for leaving the EU. Nothing changes in the short-term. You will have plenty of time to consider how to respond to whatever changes emerge.  

Do I have the right to stay in an EU country?

With so many EU nationals living in the UK and vice versa, we would expect new bilateral and multilateral residency agreements to be worked out, and these could maintain the current benefits of EU membership for expatriates.    

With expatriates contributing as much as they do to the local economies of EU states, it is likely that the authorities will want to make sure their country remains an attractive place for Britons to invest and relocate.

Remember, the EU is not the only authority within Europe. In the unlikely event that an EU nation becomes less accommodating to Britons, they still have to respect individual property rights, for example, under international human rights law.

What about healthcare?

As with residency, your current healthcare benefits should continue for the next couple of years until the Brexit terms have been ironed out. Again, it is possible that new bilateral agreements will be negotiated with regards healthcare for expatriates, but we will need to wait and see what happens here. It may become more important to have good private health insurance.

What about taxation? Will I pay more tax in an EU country?

If you are already resident in an EU country, Brexit will not affect how you are taxed. The local rules will remain the same as for all residents, and double tax treaties, such as the ones between the UK and countries like Spain, France, Portugal and Cyprus are independent of the EU. So your existing tax treatment will continue to apply. The UK already has treaties with many non-EU countries like Australia, the US, Canada and Norway.  

What about my investment portfolio?

If you use tax-efficient investment structures which are provided by companies outside the UK, such as the ones Blevins Franks recommends to clients, these are not dependent on UK rules and so Brexit does not affect them.

Investment markets do not like uncertainty so there is bound to be some volatility for a while. Try to avoid turning paper losses into real ones by selling investments which have fallen. It is also important to have a portfolio that is well diversified and designed around an objective assessment of your attitude to risk.   

While the longer-term implications are difficult to predict, it will take several years for the terms and details to be worked out. With professional and personalised financial advice, you can make sure that you are prepared and in a good position to protect yourself, whatever the future brings.

Any questions? Ask our financial advisers for help.