What has Brexit changed for UK nationals in Portugal


Four changes you should know about

Four key changes for UK nationals in Portugal due to Brexit. Do you need a visa? how long can you stay in Portugal without a visa? Can you still apply for residency? What about your UK investments? Get insights from the experts at Blevins Franks.

So, Brexit is done. While there are still many aspects to be definitively resolved, there are certain changes that are now in effect that impact the life of UK nationals who live or spend time in Portugal and of which you should be aware. 

For example, if you do not have Portuguese residency, then you need to start counting the days you not only spend here but in all other Schengen space countries too. 

In the article below, Dan Henderson, partner at Blevins Franks outlines 4 key changes due to Brexit that UK nationals should be aware of. Blevins Franks provides wealth management and tax advice to UK expats in Portugal and across Europe. Their insights and expertise can save you money and help you avoid unforseen implications that may arise from uninformed decisions. Blevins Franks offers online and face-to-face consultations.

4 things Brexit has changed for UK nationals in Portugal
By Dan Henderson, Partner, Blevins Franks
​This article was originally published by Blevins Franks

What does the post-Brexit landscape look like for UK nationals who live or enjoy spending time in the Algarve? Here are 4 key things that changed on 1 January.

1. UK nationals are ‘third country’ nationals by default
When the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020, the UK joined the likes of Australia and the USA in becoming a ‘third country’, with UK nationals losing the automatic right to study, work and live in the EU.
Fortunately, Britons who can prove they were legally settled in Portugal in 2020 can maintain citizens’ rights protections under the Withdrawal Agreement. This provides the right to remain and come and go in Portugal, with broadly the same access to benefits as citizens for as long as you remain resident here.
However, these rights will only apply to Portugal. To gain full EU citizenship as a UK national – unlocking the freedom to live in any EU country – you need to become a Portuguese citizen (possible after ten years’ residence). 

2. Non-EU citizens will have to count days spent abroad
Coronavirus restrictions aside, UK nationals who don’t have EU residence or citizenship can currently still travel to the EU without a visa – but there are new limitations. Now, non-residents will only be allowed to spend 90 days in any 180-day period there; to stay longer will require applying for a permit in advance. 
Note that this restriction covers the entire Schengen zone – which includes most EU countries (excluding Cyprus) plus some EEA states – so you would not be able to, say, leave Spain and enter Portugal to gain more time. 
If you enjoy spending part of the year in an EU holiday home, this is particularly likely to affect you. For example, if you stay there for June, July and August, you will use up your allowance in one go and be unable to re-enter the country – or any other Schengen state, for any period of time – until the end of November. 
Calculating your allowance is not as simple as it seems. As the time is treated as a rolling rather than a fixed period, you will need to count 180 days backwards from your arrival date in a Schengen country (or Cyprus) and track your stay to check you will not exceed 90 days at any point. 
You therefore need to take extra care when planning trips to Europe to avoid illegally overstaying or being denied entry. As well as making sure your passport is valid for at least six months, be prepared to show a return ticket and answer questions at the border about the duration and purpose of travel.

3. Applying for EU residence is less straightforward
With freedom of movement pre-Brexit, Britons did not always need to meet stringent requirements to become EU resident and could apply once already there. Now, those wanting to live in an EU country have to meet the legal immigration requirements and provide the correct documentation in advance of arriving. As you can no longer apply ‘in-country’, you will need to go to the relevant consulate or embassy in the UK and wait for your paperwork to come through before moving.
To apply successfully, you will need to demonstrate you have “sufficient” annual income to support yourself and any dependents without relying on the state. While this has always been a condition of EU residence, it has not always been enforced, plus the income thresholds for third state nationals are generally higher than for EU citizens. 
There are, however, special visas and fast-track residence programmes available that can make moving to an EU country much easier, including the ‘golden visa’ in Spain and Portugal, so contact us to explore your options. (Note: you can find out more about the Golden Visa on the Property in Portugal resource page).

4. UK financial arrangements may not work as before
Unless they already have arrangements in place to work in the relevant EU country, UK banks, advisers and other financial providers may no longer able to legally service EU residents. This is because Brexit dissolved automatic ‘passporting’ rights for UK financial services in the EU.
So if you live in the EU and have a UK-based adviser, check they can still support you. If you have UK bank accounts or other investments, you may be restricted from making changes, such as moving funds or applying for new services, or they may be closed altogether. And in some cases, you may find that UK assets and investments attract a higher tax bill in your country of residence now they are non-EU/EEA assets. 

Making the most of the new landscape
Although this is how things stand now, there are many unresolved aspects of Brexit, so the UK may still agree preferential arrangements with individual EU states on issues such as immigration requirements and UK financial services. 
You should, in any case, regularly check your tax and financial planning remains suitable for your family’s circumstances, so it is sensible to review your arrangements now that things have changed. Get in touch with your local Blevins Franks office. Our advisers are cross-border specialists who can help you take advantage of available opportunities and ensure you are you are suitably prepared for this post-Brexit world.

Contact Blevins Franks for advice.
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Blevins Franks accepts no liability for any loss resulting from any action or inaction or omission as a result of reading this article, which is general in nature and not specific to your circumstances. 

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