Hopes for a smooth path through the Brexit transition have long since faded and it has left people living and working on both sides of the channel very confused about what life will look like from 2021.
Following recent news that British banks are shutting UK expat’s accounts, yet another pothole has emerged – namely the ramifications for Brits who have second homes in Europe.
Freedom of movement rules mean UK nationals have been able to spend up to six months each year at a property they own in an EU country without facing any residency issues.
That could be set to change, however, from 1 January 2021.
Negotiations between the UK and EU were moving at a glacial pace even before the outbreak of covid-19.
If no solution or alternative is agreed before the end of the year, Brits will have to closely monitor how many days they spend at their second home.
According to Jason Porter, director at Blevins Franks, UK nationals face three key issues.
Brits who head to warmer climes during the chillier winter months are known as swallows.
But, from January, it will be crucial that they not spend more than 90 days in an EU country in any 180-day period.
“Otherwise they will have to apply for and obtain a residency permit,” Porter explained.
Secondly, “without a Brexit deal; Britons, as nationals of a ‘third state’ in the view of the EU, will find themselves having to apply for a residency permit for an EU country in advance of moving there”, he continued.
This will involve an application form, production of documents and other evidence, all submitted to the chosen state’s embassy or consulate in the UK.
Applicants will also have to attend a meeting with an official at the same premises before they can move to the new country.
“Previously, they could move and live in the EU under freedom of movement, and apply locally at their leisure.”
The third hurdle is that “the application will rquire a proof of income at a much higher level than it did when the UK was part of the EU”, Porter added.
Currently, moving from one EU state to another only demands proof of income at the rate of the country’s unemployment benefit or state pension, depending on age.
But under third state rules, applicants must at least match the country’s level of national minim wage.
In some cases, this is per person – with no reduction for couples.