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Will UK residents be able to move abroad after Brexit?

20th August 2019 Print

It may have been ongoing for three years, but a conclusion to the Brexit proceedings finally looks to be on the cards, with the 31 October deadline fast approaching. This has left many Britons wondering if they will still be able to fulfil their dreams of moving or retiring to sunnier climes and it’s a valid concern.

Many people are wondering what post-Brexit finances will look like, and in particular, how personal foreign exchange rates will translate hard-earned savings into liveable dividends. But it’s the final deal (or no deal) that will determine whether moving abroad will even be a viable option for UK residents in the future.

It’s reported that around 1.2 million UK nationals live in Europe, whether as pensioners, workers or workers’ dependents, with their futures hanging in the balance, but what about those who have not made the jump yet? Will they still have the option? Experts predict that the type of deal secured between the UK and EU will dictate the terms of any future immigration and emigration, with Ireland being a notable exception.

An exception to the rule

It is highly anticipated that UK citizens will be able to work and study in Ireland, regardless of the Brexit outcome, while also enjoying access to social security and public services. It is currently unclear whether the contentious Irish backstop issue would have an impact on UK citizens living and working in Ireland, as it should be a customs complication only.

Ireland has alluded to the fact that it wants to retain free movement with the UK, regardless of how Brexit plays out, but the same cannot be said for the rest of the EU, with many restrictions being cited as possible.

Moving abroad after a hard Brexit

In short, this won’t be an option. With free movement ended, UK citizens will find themselves at the mercy of expensive and selective visa applications, with those possessing desirable skills taking priority. It is unlikely that everybody seeking hard-to-fill and specialist job opportunities will be successful, regardless of qualifications.

Residential visas are likely to take a long time to process and could involve visits to the nearest relevant embassy, meaning that a lot of red tape should be prepared for.

Moving abroad after a soft Brexit

Considered to be the most relaxed option, this is expected to include freedom of movement, as long as the UK offers the same to EU citizens. This means that moving abroad for work or retirement should still be a viable option, although foreign exchange rates might still bear a sting, with Pound Sterling savings not translating to as many Euros as once hoped.

Although this option should allow for the dream of moving abroad to be realised, it’s worth remembering that money might not stretch as far and a smaller property purchase might be essential.

Moving abroad after a no-deal Brexit

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, anything could happen. With this option looking increasingly likely, those looking to move abroad should be wary. Many experts predict that leaving without a deal would incur similar, if not more extreme consequences than a hard Brexit, meaning that free movement is extremely unlikely, especially if the UK Government doesn’t extend a warm welcome to EU nationals in return.

An uncertain future

Brexit observers were of the opinion that if UK citizens were looking to move abroad, the time to do it was before anything is resolved, so they could claim settled status, but this is no longer a viable course of action. Instead, there is a tangible sense of ‘wait and see’ being the only course of action open to anyone who still harbours a keenness to leave UK shores.

This offers little comfort to those who have planned to move abroad, and with no conflict resolution realistically on the horizon, UK citizens are having to put their ambitions on hold while political machinations are played out.

The only thing that is certain is that moving abroad after Brexit will not be as straightforward as it once was – that and the fact that the impact of fluctuating exchange rates will drastically affect the budgets of anybody that still wants to pursue the dream of living on foreign soil.