Proving Residency and Identity for UK Expats Following Brexit
While recent news reports have shed light on the ID process for EU citizens in the UK, there is still concern for many expats, and those living and working in the EU, about how they will be able to prove their identity and claim residency abroad if a no-deal Brexit goes ahead.
In the meantime, a useful resource for expats is the Gov.UK website where you can set up email alerts regarding Brexit updates and find out country-specific information about living and working abroad.
The website reminds expats that, until the UK leaves the EU, there is no change to the status of UK nationals living in EU countries but stresses the importance for expats and those living and working abroad of ensuring they are correctly registered as a resident in the country where they are based. It is also advised that, if possible, expats should follow their local British Embassy on social media.
The website offers certain assurances to UK citizens that their rights will be protected and that the UK government has reached an agreement with the European Union to this effect. It clearly states that the EU Commission has agreed that when member states require a UK national to apply for residency, the process will be "transparent, smooth and streamlined".
However, reports in the press have already shown that, in some cases, this has not been the case and that expats are concerned the processes surrounding proof of residency and identity may not be as "smooth" as they would like.
Anecdotal evidence has already shown that the UK Burgundy Passport is being scrutinised more heavily when used as a form of ID, and in certain cases its use has already caused hold-ups and special checks regarding its validity as an acceptable proof of identity.
And, despite the government's assurances, the British press regularly contains stories suggesting that expats are very apprehensive about their status come 30 March 2019 if no deal is reached.
One such news report in the Express (1 Aug 2018), with the headline 'We become ILLEGAL immigrants overnight!' British expat fears Brexit backlash, detailed the fears of expats who had contacted Sky News following warnings, made by Jeremy Hunt, that the current outlook whereby no agreement is reached would be a "terrible mistake" which requires a "pragmatic solution".
Unfortunately, for many expats this is not a totally reassuring position and the number of days left on the calendar until Brexit occurs continues to dwindle relentlessly.
Blacktower's advice to our clients is, first and foremost, to apply for residency as a matter of priority and then seek expat financial advice about whatever is worrying you; whether it's expat pensions, QROPS, tax obligations and tax planning following Brexit or any other aspect of your expat wealth management.
We can help you understand the current climate and, where necessary, help you create your own personal financial plan for Brexit.