Guidance

Living in Europe

Information for UK nationals living in the EU, EEA EFTA, Switzerland and Ireland, including guidance on residency, healthcare and the Withdrawal Agreement.

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UK nationals in the EU

The Withdrawal Agreement

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and provides for a deal on citizens’ rights.

You will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement if you are a UK national lawfully residing in another EU country by the end of the transition period, on 31 December 2020.

The Withdrawal Agreement secures your rights and allows you to stay in the EU country where you live after 31 January 2020. You will continue to have broadly the same entitlements to work, study and access public services and benefits as before the UK left the EU.

Transition period

The Withdrawal Agreement sets out a transition period which lasts until 31 December 2020. This is a time-limited period before changes relating to the UK leaving the EU take place.

During the transition period, you and your family members will be able to continue to live, work and study in the EU as you did before 31 January 2020.

The rules on travelling to the EU will remain the same during this period. You can move to a different country in the EU in the same way as you could before 31 January 2020.

Residency documents and status

You and your family may need to apply for a residence status to confirm that you were already resident in the EU country you live in before 31 December 2020. You will have until at least 30 June 2021 to do this.

The EU country where you live may set up a system for applying for a residence status. The application should be short, simple and either free of charge, or cost no more than applying for a similar document, for example a national identity card or passport.

You will have until at least 30 June 2021 to submit your application. We will share information on how to apply in our Living in guides when it is available.

Permanent residency documents

You will be able to exchange valid permanent residence documents for a new residence document free of charge until at least 30 June 2021. This also applies to valid domestic immigration documents that confirm your permanent right to live in a country. You may need to provide proof of identity and undergo criminality and security checks.

Family members

Your close family members will be able to join you after 31 December 2020 under current EU rules. This applies to spouses or registered partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents. The relationship must have begun before the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.

Children born to or legally adopted by a person covered by the Withdrawal Agreement are also protected by the Agreement, if that person has custody of the children.

Healthcare

Your current rights to healthcare in your country of residence will remain the same, as long as you remain covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. If the UK pays for your healthcare, for example through the S1 scheme, this is included.

UK-issued European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) will remain valid in EU countries until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. If you are travelling to another EU country, you should ensure that you have valid travel insurance.

Pensions and benefits

If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020, and if you receive a UK State Pension, it will continue to be uprated as long as you continue to live there. This will happen even if you start claiming your pension on or after 1 January 2021, as long as you meet the qualifying conditions explained in the new State Pension guidance.

If you are living in the EU, EEA or Switzerland by 31 December 2020, you will continue to receive any UK benefits you already receive. This will continue for as long as you live there and meet all other eligibility requirements.

Read our guidance on benefits and pensions in the EU.

Read the Money and Pension Service guidance on pension and retirement changes after 31 December 2020 for more information on cross-border pensions.

Citizens’ rights in EU countries: advice and complaints

The European Commission provides information on citizens’ rights in each EU country. Its assistance service provides advice on your rights, and a way to resolve issues with public bodies in EU countries.

Get advice on your rights in an EU country or submit a complaint directly to public bodies in the EU country where you live, or seek redress through courts and tribunals.

Moving to another EU country

You can still move to another EU country, on the same terms as before 31 January 2020, until the transition period ends on 31 December 2020. You will have until at least 30 June 2021 to apply for a residence status in that country, if you need to.

Travelling in the EU

There will be no changes to the rules on travel until 31 December 2020.

Travelling to the UK

You can travel to the UK at any time. This will not change after 31 December 2020.

Returning to the UK

Your right to return to live, work and access benefits and services, such as healthcare, in the UK has not changed.

Your existing close family members will be able to join you in the UK and apply to the EU Settlement Scheme until 29 March 2022 as long as the relationship began before 31 January 2020.

New partners and other dependent family members, who have lived with you in the EU during the transition period, will be able to join you in the UK until 31 December 2020. They will also be eligible to apply to the scheme.

Your children’s rights to British citizenship have not changed.

Read our guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on, amongst other things, tax and access to services.

Studying in the UK

You will continue to be eligible for home fee status (the fee rate that students who live in the UK are charged), as well as Student Finance support or Further Education 19+ funding, as long as:

  • you are living in the EEA and Switzerland on 31 December 2020, and you have lived in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK and Gibraltar for at least the 3 years before starting a course in the UK
  • you have lived continuously in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK and Gibraltar between 31 December 2020 and the start of your course
  • the course starts before 1 January 2028

You do not need to have lived in the UK to access this offer, as long as you meet all of these conditions as a UK national.

Your children will also be eligible for support on the same terms, even if they are not themselves UK nationals, as long as both you and your children meet these conditions.

Read the guidance on support for Higher and Further Education in England.

Read the guidance for studying in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Apprenticeships in the UK

If you live in the EEA or Switzerland, you are eligible to start an apprenticeship in England before 1 August 2021 on the same basis as before the UK left the EU.

You will continue to be eligible for an apprenticeship starting in England from 1 August 2021 if you meet the eligibility requirements in place at the time. These include:

  • you are living in the EEA and Switzerland on 31 December 2020
  • you have been living in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK and Gibraltar for at least the last 3 years before you start an apprenticeship
  • you have lived continuously in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK and Gibraltar between 31 December 2020 and the start of your apprenticeship
  • you will spend at least 50% of your working hours in England during your apprenticeship
  • the apprenticeship starts before 1 January 2028

Your children will also be eligible for an apprenticeship in England on the same terms, even if they are not themselves UK nationals.

Read further guidance on becoming an apprentice in England.

Read the guidance on apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Continuing education in the EU

If you are living in an EU country before 31 December 2020, you will have the same education rights as nationals of that country.

Read guidance for studying in the EU.

Recognition of professional qualifications

Recognition decisions made on qualifications obtained in the UK or the EU on or before 31 December 2020 are not affected.

If you have not had your professional qualifications recognised, you have until 31 December 2020 to submit an application under the current rules.

Owning or renting property in the EU

Rules about property ownership, rent, taxation and shared ownership have not changed. However, if you are buying a new property some EU countries have different property acquisition laws for EU citizens and non-EU citizens. Check with local authorities how these might apply to you.

Inheritance tax and wills

Wills made under UK law remain valid. This includes wills that apply to property in the EU. Property abroad continues to be subject to local laws.

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has not changed any existing UK rules for inheritance tax.

Double taxation

Existing double taxation agreements, which the UK has with all EU countries, have not changed.

Banking and financial services

Most people living in Europe should not see any change to their banking when the transition period ends (31 December 2020). Whether UK banks can service customers living in an EEA country is a matter of local law and regulation. Also banks are set up differently, and may have taken different actions to continue to serve their customers.

Your bank or finance provider should contact you if they need to make any changes to your product or the way they provide it. If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected, contact your provider or seek independent financial advice.

Read the Money and Pension Service guidance on banking, insurance and financial services changes after 31 December 2020 for more information on cross-border banking.

Driving licences

Driving licence rules will stay the same until at least 31 December 2020.

Voting in UK elections whilst living overseas

You are entitled to register to vote in UK Parliamentary elections as an overseas voter for up to 15 years after you were last registered to vote in the UK.

Check if you are able to vote and register as an overseas voter.

UK nationals in prison in an EU country

Changes for UK nationals in prison will depend on the approach of each EU country.

Find out about transferring to a UK prison.

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

The EEA EFTA states

The UK has an agreement with the European Economic Area European Free Trade Area (EEA EFTA) states of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein which protect citizens’ rights.

You should also read the living in guides for:

Switzerland

The government has reached an agreement with Switzerland to protect citizens’ rights.

Ireland

The current rights of UK and Irish nationals in the Common Travel Area will not be affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. View the Common Travel Area guidance.

Read the Living in Ireland guide.

Published 30 January 2020
Last updated 1 December 2020 + show all updates
  1. Updated information on studying in the UK and new information on UK apprenticeships

  2. New information on cross-border banking and pensions

  3. New citizens’ rights in EU countries section added on how to get advice in the EU country where you live.

  4. New information on using UK banks if you live in an EEA country

  5. Updated information on financial support if you return to study in the UK before 31 December 2027

  6. First published.