Guidance

Living in Europe

Information for UK nationals living in the EU, EEA EFTA, Switzerland and Ireland before 1 January 2021, including guidance on residency and healthcare.

This guidance is for UK nationals who moved to European countries before 1 January 2021.

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Go to the living in guides for more about the country you live in, and sign up for email alerts on these guides.

UK nationals in the EU

The Withdrawal Agreement

If you were legally resident in an EU country before 1 January 2021, your rights will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.

You will continue to have broadly the same rights to work, study and access public services and benefits as before the UK left the EU.

Residence documents and status

You and your family may need to apply for a new residence status to secure your rights if you were living an EU country before 1 January 2021.

Read the Living in guide for the country you live in to find out what you need to do to secure your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Family members

Your close family members continue to be able to join you. This applies to spouses or registered partners, durable partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents. The relationship must have begun before 31 December 2020.

If you have, or legally adopt, children in the future, and you have custody of them, your children will have rights under the Agreement.

Healthcare

You will keep your rights to healthcare in the EU country you live in, as long as you remain covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. If the UK pays for your healthcare, for example through the S1 scheme, this is included.

If you were living in an EU country before 1 January 2021, you may be eligible for a new UK-issued EHIC if you’re:

  • a UK student in an EU country
  • a UK State Pensioner with a registered S1
  • a frontier worker with a registered S1

Apply for a new UK-issued EHIC.

Pensions and benefits

Read our guidance on entitlement to UK benefits and pensions in the EU.

Read the Money and Pension Service guidance on pension and retirement changes for more information on cross-border pensions.

Citizens’ rights: advice and complaints

The European Commission provides information on citizens’ rights in each EU country. Its assistance service provides advice on your rights, and a way to resolve issues with public bodies in EU countries.

You can also contact the SOLVIT centre in the EU country you are living in, and the European Ombudsman to submit a complaint.

Get advice on your rights in an EU country or submit a complaint directly to public bodies in the EU country where you live, or seek redress through courts and tribunals.

Returning to the UK

Your right to return to live, work and access benefits and services, such as healthcare, in the UK has not changed.

Your close family members will be able to join you in the UK and apply to the EU Settlement Scheme until 29 March 2022 as long as the relationship began before 1 February 2020.

Your children retain their rights to British citizenship.

Read our guidance on returning to the UK permanently which includes information on tax and access to services.

Studying in the EU

If you were living in an EU country before 1 January 2021 you have the same rights to access education as nationals of that country. You also retain home fee status (the fee rate that students who live in that country are charged). If you do not have permanent residence, you may not be entitled to maintenance grants.

Read the guidance for studying in the EU.

Studying in the UK

You continue to be eligible for home fee status (the fee rate that students who live in the UK are charged), as well access to Student Finance or Further Education 19+ funding, if:

  • you were living in the EU before 1 January 2021, and you lived in the EU, EEA, EFTA countries, Switzerland, the UK and Gibraltar for at least the 3 years before starting a course in the UK
  • you have lived continuously in the EU, EEA, EFTA States, Switzerland, the UK and Gibraltar between 31 December 2020 and the start of your course, and
  • the course starts before 1 January 2028

You do not need to have lived in the UK to access this offer. Support from Student Finance will continue to be subject to meeting the eligibility criteria.

Your children will also be eligible for support on the same terms, even if they are not themselves UK nationals, as long as both you and your children meet these conditions.

Read the guidance on support for Higher and Further Education in England.

Read the guidance for studying in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

Apprenticeships in the UK

If you live in the EEA or Switzerland, you are eligible to start an apprenticeship in England before 1 August 2021 on the same basis as before the UK left the EU.

You will continue to be eligible for an apprenticeship starting in England from 1 August 2021 if you meet all the eligibility requirements in place at the time. These include:

  • you were living in the EEA or Switzerland before 1 January 2021
  • you have been living in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK and Gibraltar for at least the last 3 years before you start an apprenticeship
  • you have lived continuously in the EEA, Switzerland, the UK and Gibraltar between 31 December 2020 and the start of your apprenticeship
  • you will spend at least 50% of your working hours in England during your apprenticeship, and
  • the apprenticeship starts before 1 January 2028

Your children will also be eligible for an apprenticeship in England on the same terms, even if they are not themselves UK nationals.

Read further guidance on becoming an apprentice in England.

Read the guidance on apprenticeships in ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

Owning or renting property in the EU

Rules about owning property, rent, taxation and shared ownership have not changed. However, if you are buying a new property some EU countries have different property acquisition laws for EU citizens and non-EU citizens. Check with local authorities how these might apply to you.

Inheritance tax and wills

Wills made under UK law remain valid. This includes wills that apply to property in the EU. Property abroad continues to be subject to local laws.

Double taxation

Existing double taxation agreements, which the UK has with all EU countries, continue to apply.

Banking and financial services

Whether UK banks can provide services to customers living in an EU country is a matter of local law and regulation.

Your bank or finance provider should contact you if they need to make any changes to your product or the way they provide it. If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected, contact your provider or seek independent financial advice.

Read the Money and Pension Service guidance on banking, insurance and financial services for more information on cross-border banking.

Voting in UK elections whilst living overseas

You are entitled to register to vote in UK Parliamentary elections as an overseas voter for up to 15 years after you were last registered to vote in the UK.

Check if you are able to vote. If you are, you can register as an overseas voter.

UK nationals in prison in an EU country

Changes for UK nationals in prison will depend on the approach of each EU country.

Find out about transferring to a UK prison.

Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland

The EEA EFTA states

The UK has an agreement with the European Economic Area European Free Trade Area (EEA EFTA) states of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway which protect citizens’ rights.

You should also read the living in guides for:

Switzerland

The UK has reached an agreement with Switzerland to protect citizens’ rights.

Ireland

The UK’s exit from the EU does not affect UK and Irish nationals’ rights in the Common Travel Area. View the Common Travel Area guidance.

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