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Brexit impact on UK expats and travellers

Travel Forums General Talk Brexit impact on UK expats and travellers

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1. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

So the UK is leaving the EU. Well, it's going to be interesting to see how that works out for all the expats from the UK who are living in other EU countries.

While I don't expect any EU country to be so uncivilized as to say, you have until the UK officially leaves the EU to prepare to leave our country within 24 hours of the UKs official exit, I also do not expect any EU country to say, if you are currently resident will we allow you to stay and give you automatic citizenship.

What I think is a more likely scenario is that they will point out that there are 2 categories when it comes to visas and residency. One category refers to citizens of EU member countries and the other category refers to all others. Brit Expats will become subject to the same visa and residency requirements as 'all others'.

I think if they are lucky, they will be advised that if they make an application for a visa and residency under the rules that apply to 'all others' at the time of the UKs official departure from the EU, they will be allowed to stay in the country until their application is dealt with. If their application is accepted, no problem, if not, they will be told to leave.

The question then would be who will they accept and who will they tell to leave? For an answer to that, all you have to do is look at who they accept now under the 'all others' category.

Then there are all the young UK workers who arrive in places like Spain, Greece, etc. each spring hoping to find work and spend their summer in the sun. While most of the tourist industry jobs they get are paid under the table anyway, there is a difference between an employer being caught paying a legally resident worker without declaring anything and being caught employing an illegal resident. They will become illegall residents obviously if they are not citizens of an EU country any more. As I have first hand experience of how 'workers' in the tourism industry are dealt with in situations such as this, I can tell you that right now, while a Brit can relatively easily get a tourism job in say Greece, a Canadian (simply as an example of a non-EU person) cannot. The employer backs away from the added risk when there is a high number of lower risk 'workers' that are a dime a dozen. So what I would foresee is the young Polish girl/guy will find a job but the young Brit no longer will.

As for simple travellers, well we all know the 90 day Schengen rule. It will now (after the official leave from the EU date whenever that is) apply to Brits as well. Till now, it wasn't an issue as their EU membership allowed them to stay indefinitely in any EU member country. So for example, let's suppose you are a retired or semi-retired Brit with a campervan who wants to spend 6 months at home and 6 months in some campground or touring around the southern parts of Spain, France, Italy, Greece for the autumn/winter. That will not be possible after the exit.

Any Brits in any of those positions and who want to comment? I personally as a dual citizen with one of my citizenships being from the UK, have now(when it officially happens) lost my ability to spend as much time as I please in most of Europe based on my UK passport.

PS: I am NOT interested in comments regarding whether Brexit is a good or bad thing for the UK. I am writing ONLY about the potential impact on expats and travellers. Please do not use this thread as a soapbox to air your opinions on Brexit. I will ask the moderators to remove any such comments. Thank you.

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator 5174 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I imagine that travelling arrangements back and forth will be one of the many hotly debated points in the upcoming article 50 negotiations. As far as I'm aware, the only "unrestricted" travel the EU currently has for citizens from non-EU nations is through those nations joining Schengen (see Norway e.a.). Given that the UK explicitly opted out of Schengen when a EU nation, I'd be greatly amused if they'd ended up joining Schengen upon leaving the EU. ^_^

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Jun-2016, at 10:28 by Sander ]

3. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1944 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I would expect some currency exchange fluctuations too. (My British friends were complaining they were getting a little less converting sterling to Thai baht.)

4. Posted by hasbeen (Travel Guru 1260 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Yes Minister on UK TV saw it coming in 1980

5. Posted by katzgar (Inactive 220 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

The upcoming negotiations between the UK and EU will be all important, until they are concluded everything is just scratch crotch.

6. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Sander and katzgar, first, there are no 'upcoming negotiations'. Cameron has made it clear that he and his cabinet will not be triggering article 50 and that it will be up to the new PM and cabinet to decide when to do that.

I'm not being pedantic, my point is that until that happens and until the UK actually exits the EU will probably be at least 2 years. During those 2 years, while remaining a member of the EU will mean nothing changes In terms of physical travel, it does not mean nothing will be going on that will not affect travellers and UK expats living in other EU countries.

There are things for the Brit traveller or expat to be thinking about now in regards to this interim period. Karazyal mentions the fluctuating Pound. Look at it today, it's down a good 10% since the referendum 3 days ago. I think there is little doubt that it will bounce up and down(more down than up) for as long as it takes till the actual exit from the EU.

Anyone who is planning to travel/vacation in an EU country in the next couple of years may see that greatly affect the cost of their travel. Suppose someone has their summer vacation already booked and paid for in Spain or wherever, for next month. They need to be thinking about the possibility that it MAY cost them significantly more than they had planned for. Every announcement that is made by either the UK government or any EU member country government in relation to Brexit will impact the exchange rate. Nor is it unreasonable to suggest that the impact may result in numbers of 10-15-25% swings in the exchange rate. How many working class Brits taking a 1 or 2 week package holiday, do you think have a 25% contingency built in to their vacation money to deal with that?

Nor will it be confined to travel to the Euro. As karazyal suggests, it will affect exchange rates for any currency and therefore any travel plans a Brit has to any country. If they travel today, they are facing a 10% increase in cost right now. A vacation to Disneyworld in Florida will cost them 10% more today than it did last week.

During this same time period, Brit expats living and/or working in other EU countries will also have to deal with the fallout of this decision to leave the EU. What do you suppose the uncertainty and fluctuation of the Pound will mean to a Brit retiree in Spain? Do you allow for your income to fluctuate by as much as 25% over the course of say the next few months? How would you cope if it did? If I were a Brit retiree in Spain, France, Greece, etc. right now, I'd be very unhappy right now. And I mean now, not 2 years from now.

Take a couple of items and consider them for that Brit retiree in Spain. His/her UK State Pension is currently index linked and goes up 2.5% per year automatically. But the tax agreement under which that happens is directly linked to the EU. A Brit retiree in Canada or Australia does not get that annual increase. Their UK Pension amount is frozen at the rate it was when they first got it. Will the retiree in Spain be in that same boat? That is unknown.

How about healthcare. Currently, the retiree is entitled to 'reciprocal' health care in Spain as a citizen of an EU country. What will happen to that? That is unknown.

Citizenship. Spain doesn't allow dual nationality. So let's say they let the retiree stay in Spain based on having enough income to qualify for residency. But that retiree wants to get under the Spanish healthcare system to avoid having to pay for private healthcare insurance. To do so, will they have to apply for Spanish citizenship and give up their UK citizenship? Another unknown.

Or how about a Brit expat who owns a business in an EU country? What can they expect to be happening for the next 2 years? Suppose for example, your business is doing OK but you do have some business loans from a bank. Will the bank get nervous and demand payment of the loans or refuse any further extensions? What about suppliers? Will they refuse any further credit because they are worried you will opt to pull the plug and head off home to the UK overnight with debts/bills left unpaid?

How does that retiree or business owner today, try to decide what to plan on for the future? Right now they know what the laws etc. are that affect them. Suppose someone said to you, your residency status is now up in the air, your healthcare, pension eligibility, income, etc. etc. are all up in the air and will continue to be for the next couple of years, how would you react?

It is naïve to think that until the actual exit date, that there will be no impact on Brit travellers and expats in the meantime. The impact starts NOW. So no, for the Brit traveller or expat, everything is not 'just scratch crotch' until the exit is concluded. They have to deal with this interim period as well. After the exit, things will be clear, it is NOW that is full of uncertainty and is therefore much harder to deal with.

For the Brit traveller taking a vacation over the next couple of years I don't see any major impact other than the potential for a significant swing in exchange rates at any given point in time if some announcement is made that triggers those swings and the possibility (within the EU) of some personal abuse (verbal, etc. ie. 'you don't want us, we don't welcome you') perhaps. I wouldn't advocate travel to Poland by a Brit this summer for example.

For the expat however I do see a major impact over the next couple of years. The uncertainty of the outcome leaves the expat hanging when it comes to deciding what to do now and for the future. Generally, I am a 'cross the bridge when you come to it' type of person. But I think in this case, there is a bridge to cross right now as well as another bridge to cross when the exit date arrives.

I would not want to be a Brit living in an EU country right now and trying to decide what to do in response to Brexit. But I would be making a decision, not waiting to let a decision be imposed upon me. The saying I would be thinking about is, 'you can be the architect of change or the victim of change. What is certain is that change will occur.'

Personally, I think I would be deciding to get out and remove the uncertainty from my life. If things worked out well, I could always go back. Sitting and waiting is letting others decide for you.

7. Posted by katzgar (Inactive 220 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

So what you're saying is when everybody on the BBC and David Cameron and Boris Johnson all talk about the upcoming negotiations they are wrong

8. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

I'm not interested in arguing semantics over whether negotiations are 'upcoming' or not if they haven't been scheduled yet katzgar. I think what I am saying is clear. The point is that UNTIL the UK government gets around to invoking article 50 and the negotiations begin and end, is likely to be at least 2 years from now. People are talking about the 'negotiations' as if nothing will happen until AFTER they have occurred. That is simply not the case. Repercussions from the referendum are happening NOW.

There is an affect on travellers and expats right now, today. So it is not a question of 'all as per normal' until after the negotiations (whenever they take place) end. So you can't just 'scratch crotch' as you so elegantly put it katzgar, if you plan to travel in the next 2 years or are a Brit expat living in an EU country right now or a Polish expat(etc.) living in the UK.

I think a lot of people think there is no immediate affect and when they hear someone like Cameron, Johnson or whoever saying something like, 'no need to rush, let's take our time about this', they are not taking into account that there is an affect NOW.

It's only been 3 days and people haven't yet come to realize how much has now changed as a result of that referendum. Not how much is GOING to change, how much HAS changed. As of the morning after the referendum the world has changed as a RESULT of the referendum. It isn't a question of waiting to see what will change after the negotiations. The negotiations will simply end up producing FURTHER change. But travellers and immigrants (whether immigrants in the UK from other EU countries, or Brit immigrants currently living in other EU countries) are affected already.

9. Posted by Tabithag (Full Member 108 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

Of course things have changed already. Many UK citizens, whether living in the UK or the EU, and EU citizens living in - or hoping to come to - the UK are facing massive uncertainty about what the future holds for them. We know that there has been a big drop in the economy, which inevitably will fluctuate for years to come, and this will affect all financial issues, whether that be the exchange rate you get, the cost of your holiday, or the price of your property - in the UK or abroad.

But what we do not know, and will not know, probably for some years, is what the exit negotiations will achieve. At present, even the leave campaigners don't know what they want, so no one can know what we will end up with. Once negotiations get underway, we will likely start to get an idea of what will and will not be safeguarded. Some EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens abroad, may well take a view that it is better to jump ship early. Others however may not have that option (those living in Spain may struggle to afford to sell there and buy in the UK), or may figure that there is a good chance that the position of existing expats will be safeguarded, whereas they may not be allowed to return if they leave. There is simply no way of knowing yet, and quite honestly, I see little to be gained by speculating about it, because that kind of speculation is helping to feed the division in the country.

Personally, I am concerned enough about what my country may be like in the future - not so much economically but culturally - that I am looking into what options I might have for dual citizenship or emigration. I want to know what choices I will have, but I have no intention of taking any permanent action at this stage, because it is far too early to know whether I will need to.

For now, my biggest concern is the terrible division that is occurring here, together with what we have already been seeing in terms of treatment of 'foreigners'. I am horrified at this. And in terms of my travelling. Yes, it will be more expensive, but I am far more concerned that, for the first time, I may feel ashamed to tell people that I am British.

10. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1944 posts) 1y Star this if you like it!

One positive is that the UK should get more tourist dollars. If you are in a business that depends on tourism your paycheck might get a little bigger.