Brexit negotiations: impact to British residents in Portugal
The British Embassy has recently issued an update about the current negotiation between the United Kingdom and the European Union and the expected impact to the British residents in the EU area. Although there is still a long way to go until everything is finished, so far there is a few good news. The main and elementary needs of British expats in Portugal are being addressed.
Healthcare. British pensioners will have their healthcare arrangement protected in Portugal and can even continue to use the European Healthcare Insurance Card (EIHC) throughout the Union.
Social Security. Contributions for National Insurance will be recognised in the European Union and the United Kingdom. The right to a UK State Pension will be rightfully addressed.
Taxation, driving licences, passports. For the moment, there are no immediate changes, but these issues will continue to be addressed in the Brexit negotiations. About double taxation, the Embassy affirmed that the UK-Portugal Double Taxation Agreement between Portugal and the UK, dated 1968, will remain in place, as well as the Non-Habitual Residency tax status.
Voting. British residents will not be allowed to vote in municipal elections, as this comes from European citizenship, but the UK government will also be addressing the issue. Moreover, several other non-EU nationalities are eligible to vote under certain conditions (including even New-Zealanders!), so it is very likely that the UK and Portugal will fix this too.
Good advice for British residents in Portugal
British expats should formalise their residency in Portugal through a register in local Town Hall of SEF (“Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras”) office, and also in the local health centre. These are simple moves to make it easy to the safeguard of rights; this would be advisable even with no Brexit, to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy.
Political goodwill in Portugal
Beyond the deals with the European Union itself, British expats can always rely on the goodwill of the Portuguese authorities. This means more than the almost seven-century old alliance between Portugal and England; it means that Portugal is firmly determined to take good care of foreign investment and relations, having tourism and real estate as two important revenue means. This applies to the massive tourist movement flocking to the country right now, but also to the growing French community of pensioners and even to Chinese investors, who can have access to the “Golden Visa”, created to make a move easier to them.
The British expat community, for its size and proximity, is especially important and the Portuguese government has repeatedly addressed that the Brexit process should and will not endanger relations between the two countries.