Guidance

The UK’s exit from the EU: Important information for UK nationals

European Union (EU) exit information for UK nationals in the absence of a withdrawal agreement.

Until 29 March 2019, the UK remains a full member of the EU and UK nationals retain their legal status as EU citizens. There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in the EU while the UK remains in the EU.

The UK continues to call on the EU and Member States to protect the rights of UK nationals in the EU in the event of a no deal. We want UK nationals to be able to stay in the Member States that they live in when we leave the EU, and for their rights to employment, healthcare, education, benefits and services to be protected.

The UK cannot act unilaterally to protect all of the rights of UK nationals in the EU. However, where it is in our control, we will support UK nationals. The citizens’ rights in the event of no deal policy paper provides some details of how we will do this and further information will be set out in due course.

Technical Notices are also available for detailed sector-by-sector information on the actions citizens and businesses should take to prepare for an exit from the EU with no deal.

We will continue to provide updates to UK nationals in the EU on GOV.UK and through our network of Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions as it becomes available. We advise that you subscribe to updates from the relevant Living in country guide for the EU country you’re living in.

Below we have provided information across a number of areas in the event of a no deal EU exit.

Living in an EU country after the UK leaves the EU

Continuing to live in an EU country after the UK has left the EU depends on the EU and its Member States, and whether they reciprocate our offer in this policy paper on Citizens’ rights in the event of a no deal Brexit. Our offer guarantees the right of EU citizens in the UK to continue their lives broadly as now. A number of Member States have already given political assurances to UK Nationals about their residency rights. The European Commission has also published a No Deal Contingency Action Plan which calls upon EU Member States to take a generous approach to UK nationals who are already resident in their territory. This includes a call for Member States to take measures so that all UK nationals legally residing in a Member States on 29 March 2019 will continue to be considered as legal residents of that Member State without interruption. We will continue to work with the EU and all of the Member States to make sure UK nationals are given firm reassurances as soon as possible.

Applying for permanent residency in an EU country

We can’t confirm that registering as a permanent resident will protect your status and rights in the country you are living in: this will depend on the approach that the EU and each EU Member State takes. You should keep in touch with your local authorities and be ready to cooperate with them once they confirm any action UK nationals may be required to take.

Third country family members joining you in an EU country

EU Member States determine their own immigration policies. You should consult your host country’s immigration authorities. We have set out our position on family reunion and we will be asking the EU and its Member States to do the same as soon as possible.

Staying in an EU country with an EU spouse

EU citizens with non-EU spouses, long-term partners or other family members are usually entitled to register them in their EU country of nationality. The right to register non-EU family members should include registering UK nationals as family members once they are no longer EU citizens. For further details see the EU’s guidance on registering EU family members in another EU country.

Working in an EU country without a visa and residency status

If you are working in the EU as an employed or self-employed person and you have a UK-issued A1/E101 form, you will remain subject to UK legislation for the duration of the period shown on the form. However, after 29 March 2019 the form may no longer be recognised by the EU country/or countries you work in. You should contact the relevant EU country’s authority to see if you need to start paying any social security charges. We are in contact with Member States on changes for UK nationals in a no deal and will provide updates as and when information becomes available.

Entering and working in the UK

The right of UK nationals to enter and return to work in the UK is not affected by the UK’s exit from the EU. You will be able to continue working in the UK after our exit.

Travel around the EU with a British passport

The rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. After 29 March 2019:

  • You should have at least 6 months left on your passport from your date of arrival. This applies to adult and child passports.
  • If you renewed a 10 year adult passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your new passport’s expiry date, making it valid for more than 10 years. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months that should be remaining for travel to most countries in Europe.

The new rules will apply to passports issued by the UK, Gibraltar, Guernsey, the Isle of Man and Jersey. You can use this tool to check a passport for travel to Europe.

Travelling with pets to and from the UK

UK nationals will still be able to bring pets to and from the UK after the UK leaves the EU. Information on how to bring your pet to the UK can be found on Pet Travel to Europe after Brexit. You should contact your vet at least 4 months before you plan on travelling to any EU country with your pet. More information on the documents that would be required to enter or re-enter the UK will be made available for pet owners on GOV.UK. For more information on travel back to the EU visit Taking your pet abroad if there’s no Brexit deal.

Continuing education in the EU

Continuing education in the EU and any required fees will depend on the immigration requirements of your host Member State and/or the requirements of the educational institution you are studying at. You should contact your host country government or your institution for advice.

UK students may have entered into arrangements to enrol on courses with universities in EU countries. You should check with the relevant institution whether these arrangements will hold after the UK leaves the EU.

We believe that it is strongly in both the UK and the EU’s interests to continue Erasmus+ projects. The Government underwrite guarantee means funding is available to UK organisations to support their students to continue their placement in their host EU country. We are seeking to agree arrangements with the European Commission to ensure UK students can complete their exchange.

Recognising professional qualifications

The European Commission has published guidance on professional qualifications. Where UK nationals have already been recognised by an EU country as holding valid professional qualifications this will remain valid after the UK leaves the EU. The Commission has advised holders of qualifications obtained in the UK before the UK leaves the EU to obtain recognition in a EU27 Member State before 29 March 2019.

Paying for healthcare in EU countries

UK nationals living in, working in, or visiting the EU may find that their access to healthcare in EU Member States will change after 29 March 2019. This will depend on decisions by each country. However, the UK is seeking bilateral agreements to maintain healthcare rights as a top priority. You can find out more about healthcare abroad.

For people visiting the EU, we recommend buying travel insurance to ensure you can travel safely. You should make sure you understand the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy, and that the policy is sufficient to cover possible disruption. The FCO has guidance on what your travel insurance policy should cover.

If you already have travel insurance to cover your trip, your insurer should let you know if there will be any changes to the way your policy is serviced that will affect you after the UK leaves the EU. If you have questions about what your travel insurance policy covers, or whether the policy is sufficient to cover possible disruption, you may wish to contact your insurer.

UK state pension and benefits

The UK Government will continue to pay state pension, child benefits, and disability benefits to eligible UK nationals in the EU. Find guidance on benefits and pensions in a no deal scenario.

Personal pensions and annuities

If you live in the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) and have a personal pension or annuity with a UK-based provider, your provider should have made plans to make sure you can still get payments from your personal pension or annuity, even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. If your provider needs to make any changes to your personal pension or annuity, or the way it provides it, they should contact you. If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected, you should contact your provider. If you are unsure whether you have an occupation pension or personal pension, you should contact your provider to check.

Occupational pensions

There is nothing in UK pensions legislation which prevents occupational pension schemes from making pension payments overseas. We do not expect that this will change as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU. If your pension is paid into a UK bank account, your bank should contact you if they expect any changes as a result of the UK’s exit from the EU. If you are unsure whether you have an occupation pension or personal pension, you should contact your provider to check.

Banking, insurance and other financial services

Many UK providers are planning to continue providing services to EU and EEA residents. If your provider needs to make any changes to your product or the way it provides it, they should contact you in a timely manner. If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected, you should contact your provider.

Inheritance tax and wills

Any valid will made under UK law before the UK’s exit from the EU, including wills that apply to property situated in the EU, will remain valid under UK law. However the effect of the will in relation to property abroad continues to be subject to the law of the country in which the property is situated.

The UK’s exit from the EU will not change any existing UK rules for inheritance tax. Inheritance tax is levied on transfers of worldwide assets by individuals domiciled in the UK, and transfers of UK assets by non-domiciled individuals.

Tax payments

The UK’s exit from the EU will not change existing double taxation arrangements. These ensure that everyone (not just British citizens) living in a country that has a treaty with the UK will not pay tax in two countries on the same income/gain, and determines which country has primary taxing rights. The UK has double taxation agreements with all EU countries which will continue to apply after our exit from the EU.

Driving licences

Holders of UK driving licences who are resident in an EU country should exchange their UK licences for a driving licence from the EU country you are living in before 29 March 2019. If you haven’t exchanged your UK licence after our exit from the EU, you will be subject to the domestic laws of that country and how they treat non-EU licence holders, which could mean needing to retake your driving test. Many EU Member States only recognise third country licences for up to 6 months. EU issued driving licences will continue to be recognised in the UK after our exit from the EU. You can find more information on driving licences.

Motor insurance validity

If you are driving a UK-registered and insured vehicle, all UK motor insurance providers will continue to provide third party motor insurance cover for travel to EU or EEA countries. You will not need to purchase additional third party motor insurance policy cover if driving in these countries with a UK-registered vehicle.

From 29 March 2019, if there is no deal with the EU, the UK will not be part of the Green Card-free circulation area. Drivers of UK registered vehicles will need to carry a Green Card when driving in the EU, EEA and all other countries that recognise Green Cards. If you are driving a vehicle that is registered and insured in your host country, you will not be affected. You can find more information on vehicle insurance.

Owning or renting property in the EU

Some EU countries have laws which govern property ownership and differentiate between their own citizens, EU citizens and non-EU citizens. You should check with local authorities about how these might apply to you.

Voting in local elections in EU countries

The UK is seeking bilateral arrangements with individual Member States to preserve reciprocal voting rights for both UK nationals living in the EU and EU citizens in the UK.

Family members in prison in an EU country

The impact on UK nationals in prison will depend on the approach the EU country takes. A range of mechanisms exist which enable offenders to be returned to their home countries. If there is a no deal EU exit, the EU Prisoner Transfer Framework Decision will cease to apply, and in that event we will use the Council of Europe Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and its Additional Protocol after we leave the EU.

Published 21 December 2018
Last updated 3 January 2019 + show all updates
  1. EU Exit Update: New link added to UK state pension and benefits section.
  2. First published.