Expats: Can I still move to Europe after Brexit? Spain, Ireland and France

Brexit: British expat discusses difficulty of living in Spain

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The days of living and travelling freely through the European Union (EU) are gone for Britons since Brexit rules come into force in early 2021. However, just because freedom of movement has gone, does not mean that expat dreams of moving to the bloc are diminished.

The EU is home to 27 countries that all have their own unique attractions for Britons looking to move.

There are around 1.2 million British born people living in an EU country, according to figures provided by the UN.

In 2022, since Brexit, each country may put in place its own specifications for obtaining a visa to live or work there.

How can I move to Europe?

As the UK no longer holds a place in the EU, it is defined as a “third country” – this means a nation outside of the Union.

Visiting Britons are allowed to stay in one or more EU member states for up to 90-days of any 180-day period.

If you want to stay for longer than this or move there, you will require a visa.

To secure a visa, you will need to meet the specific requirements set out by your chosen country.

These vary from nation to nation, with some requiring a job offer or certain qualifications.

Britons already living in the EU before Brexit should have had their status as legal residents protected under the Withdrawal Agreement.

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As rules vary for each EU country, you will need to look at the specific requirements for your chosen nation.

This is most often available on the Government website of that country.

According to Fullfact, the UK’s independent fact-checking charity, in their ‘Brits Abroad’ report estimated that 1.24 million Brits live in the EU which is broken down as follows, with the most popular countries being Spain, The Republic of Ireland and France.

Here are some of the key requirements, in brief, for the most popular EU countries for Britons to move to.

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Can I move to Spain after Brexit?

According to experts from MoveHub: “If you’re looking to move to Spain, you’ll firstly need to get a temporary residence visa (Tarjeta de Residencia), so you can stay in the country longer than 90 days.”

In order to apply for this in the UK, Britons can make an appointment with the Spanish Consulate in London.

MoveHub adds: “You can also make an application for a temporary visa within Spain, though you must do so at an immigration office (oficina de extranjeros) within 30 days of arriving in the country. We don’t recommend this path, as it’s typically more stressful than applying from the UK.”

If issued with a temporary visa, Britons will be allowed to remain in Spain for between three months and five years depending on their specific circumstances.

After five years of living legally in Spain, you can apply for a permanent residence visa.

Can I move to The Republic of Ireland after Brexit?

Unlike other EU countries, UK nationals do not need a visa or residency permit to live, work or study in Ireland.

This is thanks to the Common Travel Area (CTA) agreed upon by the UK and Irish governments.

According to Gov.uk: “UK nationals do not need a visa or residency permit to live, work or study in Ireland.

“Within the Common Travel Area (CTA), British and Irish citizens can live and work freely in each other’s countries and travel freely between them.

“Both the UK and Irish governments are committed to protecting the CTA.”

The Government website adds: “Under the CTA, British and Irish citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and privileges, including the right to work, study and vote in certain elections, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services.”

However, if you are planning to move to Ireland, you must tell the UK Government offices that deal with your benefits, pension and tax if you are moving or retiring abroad.

Can I move to France after Brexit?

Those wanting to live in France for longer than 90-days will need to submit an application for a long-stay visa.

MoveHub explains: “If you’re successful, you’ll have a year after you arrive in France to apply and obtain a residence permit, which you can do at your local prefecture.

“When applying, you’ll need to send a photo or scan of your passport, together with one or more additional documents outlined in these helpful flow-charts made by the French government.”

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