With so much still unknown about the UK’S position after Brexit, is there any certainty in these uncertain times? Stefano Lucatello looks at some of the issues
Amid the Brexit uncertainty, is there anything we do know for sure?
What will happen to EU citizens living in the UK and UK citizens in France?
An agreement between the UK and the EU provides what Theresa May says is certainty to the 3.2 million EU citizens in the UK that they will be able to carry on living and working in the UK as they have done, with their rights enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts.
UK citizens in the EU will also retain their current rights with what the EU’S Jean Claude Juncker called a cheap and simple administration procedure. The proposal provides a cut-off date of Brexit day (29 March 2019) for those to be covered by the rules. Babies born after that date to people who have qualified under these rules will be included in the agreement. Under the plan EU citizens legally resident in the UK and UK citizens in the EU will be able to leave for up to five years before losing the rights they will have as part of the proposed Brexit deal.
Will I need a visa to travel to France and the EU?
The UK government wants to keep visa-free travel to the UK for EU visitors after Brexit and it is hoping this will be reciprocated, meaning UK citizens will continue to be able to visit EU countries for short periods without seeking official permission to travel.
If visitors from EU countries wanted to work, study or settle in the UK, they would have to apply for permission under the proposals. No agreement has been reached yet; however, if it is decided that EU citizens will need visas to come to the UK in the future then UK citizens will need visas to travel to the EU.
Will I still be able to use my passport if I move to France permanently?
Yes. It is a British document – there is no such thing as an EU passport – so your passport will stay the same. The government has decided to change the colour to blue for anyone applying for a new or replacement British passport from October 2019.
Will EHIC cards still be valid, once I move to France?
If you are already living in another EU country on the day the UK leaves the block, your EHIC card – which entitles travellers to state-provided medical help for any condition or injury that requires urgent treatment, in any other country within the EU, as well as several non-eu countries – will continue to work.
After that date, for EU citizens wishing to travel to the UK, or UK citizens wishing to travel to France and the EU, it is unclear about what will happen because no deal has yet been reached.
Will healthcare access change for British expats in France?
After Brexit, there will be two possibilities. The first and easiest would be that the negotiators come up with a reciprocal deal that keeps the current arrangements, or something a bit like them, in place. If they don’t, the situation will depend on the individual country where you live.
For residents from non-eu countries, and that will soon include British citizens, they will have to finalise their residency status, acquire a French identity card and then apply for a French health insurance card. If they visit the UK at the moment, access to the NHS for non-resident Brits is not straightforward unless you have an EHIC card. The right to treatment is based on residency, not on your tax status. So, even if you live abroad and pay some British tax on a buy to-let property, for instance, you might find yourself getting a bill for any NHS treatment you end up getting while you are back in the UK.
What will happen to EU nationals in France with a British state pension?
If you are an EU national and receive a British state pension, nothing much should change, because the state pension is dependent not on where you come from, but on how long you have paid national insurance contributions in the UK. So it doesn’t matter where you come from, what counts is how much you have paid in terms of national insurance contributions.
There is one condition to the above: you have to have paid in for at least 10 years. Under the current rules, if you are an EU citizen and haven’t paid in for 10 years, you can point to any contributions you have made in your native country and say “I paid in there”. That works for EU countries and another 16 countries with which the UK has social security agreements.
Once we have left the EU, you will no longer be able to do that unless we negotiate new reciprocal agreements. If we don’t then potentially, if you have paid in fewer than 10 years’ worth of national insurance contributions, you will not get a British state pension.