British expats based in EU countries have been living in fear regarding their position given last year’s referendum vote that saw the UK break away from the European Union. But do they really need to worry? And should your decision to emigrate be affected by Brexit and what is to come from one of the biggest events for the UK ever.
What happened after the UK voted to leave the EU?
Let’s look back at the past 9 months and see what the effects have been as the Brexit scenario unveiled. On June 23rd 2016, the UK held what has been dubbed the most important referendum of all time; whether or not to leave the European Union. The following day the referendum result was announced, with 52% of voters choosing to leave the EU. As a result, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation and the British Pound depreciated to a 30-year low. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney followed these shock events with comments that the central bank was ready and prepared to support the financial system as necessary. Another day passed and another resignation, this time from EU financial services chief Jonathan Hill. The uncertainty that followed saw a continued detrimental effect on the Pound, general public and world leaders, with all other data good or bad from the UK economy being side-lined.
By the 30th June, UK Home Secretary Theresa May formally declared her candidacy for the conservative party leadership and the Bank of England stated that the loosening of monetary policy within the coming months was highly likely. Throughout July we saw Theresa May become Prime Minister and expressing her intentions. She stated “Britain will forge a bold new positive role for ourselves in the world.” Her reshuffle also saw her naming Boris Johnson as foreign secretary, David Davis as Brexit secretary, Liam Fox as trade secretary and Philip Hammond as chancellor of the exchequer.
By October of last year, PM Theresa May then said she plans to trigger Article 50 by the end of March 2017. What followed was another drop in the Pounds value with the currency hitting 31 year lows within 2 minutes. The declines in the British Pound expressed the extreme level of uncertainty by market participants and echoed across the globe. With EU leaders stating there would be no cherry picking and a hard Brexit was the most likely scenario, rattled business owners began to consider moving their base operations and expats living abroad became fearful of their position.
Theresa May remained focused on making the best out of the situation vowing to make “Britain great again” she expressed her intent to make the ‘Divorce’ from the EU as beneficial to all as possible. Despite the possibility of Britain securing continued residency and work rights for expats in Europe, there was still a scramble to obtain citizenship of another EU nation as an insurance policy.
Just over 4.5 million Britons live abroad, with more than 1.2 million of them estimated to be in Europe. The British expats living in EU countries have for the past 9 months been living in fear of losing the right to stay in their properties year-round along with the ability to work visa-free since the UK public voted for Britain to leave the European Union. According to research, Spain has the most British expats, followed by Ireland, Germany and Italy. Expats were able to vote in the UK referendum providing they were not living abroad for more than 15 years.
George Peretz QC, an expert on EU law last year told the Financial Times, “These expats do not face having their property confiscated or being immediately deported,” he added “This would be a contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights.” British citizens living in the EU are currently able to own property, work visa-free, access healthcare on the same terms as locals and draw their state pensions after retiring.
Peretz did warn however, that unless the UK agreed to allow EU nationals to continue living in Britain after Brexit, a UK expat’s position would “become exactly the same as [that of] an American or an Argentine”, also stating “Anyone British who is in a position to get citizenship of another EU country, through marriage or investment, would be well advised to do so.”
Now that Article 50 has been triggered what is the position of the expat and those who wish to emigrate?
Thanks to the EEU, British expats living in other European countries can enjoy the right of free movement, meaning EU members cannot bar or expel any citizen of other EU states. This has seen a strong argument that British citizens in Europe could well become “illegal immigrants overnight” if Britain refuses to maintain some form of free movement after Brexit. While its possible it is however unlikely. It would simply open the door to retaliation from the UK who hosts a large share of nearly 3 million expats from European nations.
The Vienna convention of 1969 states that the termination of a treaty “does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of parties involved post its termination.” In other words, Brits who have exercised their right to live in EU states can expect to retain that right after Brexit. After Britain officially leaves the EU, expats ability to live and work in EU nations will depend on new agreements the UK negotiate with those nations.
Sending Money Overseas Post-Brexit
So, for those of you who are abroad already and those of you considering the move overseas for the moment it would seem that little has changed. The things to consider would be the outcome of negotiations and the ongoing effects on currency and property markets. For some having income and expenditure in the same currency is a given and this can quash any currency related risks. This will be the case if you are earning and living in the same country or if you move within the same currency zone. However, for most expats and those of you considering moving abroad exchange rate fluctuations are something to seriously consider.
When moving to your new home you may need to exchange your funds to the required currency to make the purchase. For this you will want to secure the best rate available while being risk adverse to any high levels of volatility. If you continue to have expenses, including the running costs for any property in your home country you will need to have a plan in place to cover your longer-term needs. Indigo FX is an innovative currency exchange specialist that works closely with you to cover these risks and assist you with making informed decisions when considering your move abroad.
By working with a currency specialist such as Indigo you will gain a strong advantage via a wide range of solutions and payment options leaving you to concentrate on what is important to you when making your big move. Due to the volume of transactions Indigo undertake our purchasing power can enable you to get a far superior rate of exchange and our expert team will work on your behalf to mitigate any risk to exchange rate fluctuations.
Benefits of working with a currency specialist also include zero cost transfers, bank beating exchange rates and a tailored solution to your emigration needs.