expat network

Implications of the Joint Agreement for British Expats

The recent breakthrough in the Brexit negotiations has given some clarity to the question of expat rights.

Jason Porter of Blevins Franks commented, ‘A landmark agreement has been reached in Brexit talks which should cement the rights of UK citizens resident in other EU countries.

The most important aspect is obviously the right to reside, but very close behind is access to domestic healthcare on the same footing as a local, and retention of the annual inflationary increase in the UK state pension.’


Residence Rights

UK nationals already residing in one of the 27 EU member states on March 29th 2019 will be allowed to stay indefinitely and will retain the same rights that they have now. They will be able to obtain permanent residence after 5 years of residence (the same as now). These rights apply to partners and children of those citizens, but wider family members such as parents and future partners are not included.

The right of residence and right of permanent residence extends to other family members (including future partners and unborn children).

Freedom of movement will continue until the UK’s withdrawal and if, as expected, the transitional period is two years, this will continue until 2021. At the end of the transitional period those who already have permanent residence will receive a new permanent residence document, free of charge.



Blevins Franks point out that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme used by UK nationals in Europe will continue for those already resident in another EU member state beyond the date of the UK’s withdrawal, as long as their residence continues.


State Pensions

There is no specific mention of the retention of annual state pension increases.

In an article in The Telegraph back in September James Walsh, of the Pensions & Lifetime Savings Association, a trade body, was quoted as saying: “The UK and EU have agreed that the UK will continue paying and uprating state pensions to UK citizens living in EU countries after Brexit – and vice versa.

“This means, for example, that British pensioners living in Spain will continue to get the same annual inflation increases they would have got in the UK. The same will apply to Spanish pensioners resident in Britain.”

The joint report does state that social security coordination will apply to those UK nationals already residing in one of the 27 EU member states.

Blevins Franks point out that in June 2017, the European Parliament published a document on Brexit negotiations, called “Issues for the first phase”. This states the “the principles of social security coordination, which include aggregation, export of benefits and equal treatment, should be maintained.”

So, the view of the European Parliament is the meaning of social security coordination includes equal treatment, which in this document is set out as “the lifetime export of uprated state pensions”. Blevins Franks say ‘This is a strong indication the UK’s triple-lock will continue to be available to UK nationals resident in the EU at the point of the UK’s withdrawal’.

Blevins Franks conclude that ‘For UK nationals living in one of the other 27 member states who wish to become permanently resident there, the clock is ticking’. As there is likely to be a rush of applications it will be best to apply as soon as residents qualify.

They also suggest that ‘The joint statement will serve as a call to action for those looking to move to another EU member state, to accelerate their plans and make sure they are resident prior to the UK’s withdrawal’.


The points above are based on the Joint UK-EU Joint report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on progress during phase 1 of negotiations under Article 50 TEU on the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union to be put to the meeting of the European Council (Article 50) of 14-15 December 2017. Blevins Franks accepts no liability for any loss resulting from any action or inaction or omission as a result of reading this information, which is general in nature and not specific to any personal circumstances.