Saturday, 24 March 2018

Brexit: how things stand for expatriates in the EU under the proposed Brexit deal

With only one year to go until Britain officially leaves the EU, we explore how things stand for expatriates in the EU under the proposed Brexit deal.

Residency: What we know

Although Brexit is scheduled for 29th March 2019, a proposed 21-month transition period is expected to maintain existing residency rules and benefits until the end of 2020.

Britons “lawfully residing” in an EU member state before the 31 December 2020 cut-off date will retain the right to remain and access existing benefits in that country after full Brexit takes effect.

Those who already hold permanent residency can convert their documentation for free. Others are promised a “transparent, smooth and streamlined” process, with a two-year application window.

Agreed reunification rights mean existing partners and close family members can join settled residents in an EU country, even after Brexit.

However, residency rights expire if you are absent from the country for five continuous years or more.


Residency: What we don’t know

What counts as “lawfully residing” is unclear. Permanent residents will qualify, but expatriates living in a country for under five years may need to prove their settled status.

If you have not already, make sure you have registered with the local authorities and secured any supporting paperwork. The residency process takes time, so take action as soon as possible to avoid missing the cut-off date.

Beyond Brexit, we do not know how acquiring residency, visas and permits will work, but we can expect them to be much less straightforward than today.

A key unresolved issue is onward freedom of movement – whether you can automatically relocate to another EU country after Brexit. This especially affects those who work or wish to study across different member states. While Britain has offered “guaranteed rights of return” to EU citizens settled in the UK before Brexit, so far the EU27 has not agreed reciprocal rights for Britons.

Healthcare and pensions: What we know

The deal on the table preserves existing access to pensions and healthcare for residents legally settled in the EU before Brexit. This means holders of the EU ‘Form S1’ can continue receiving free or reduced healthcare, and the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) still provides cover when visiting other EU countries.

British expatriates remain eligible for annual increases in the State Pension, even if you have not started taking your pension before Brexit. As things stand, Brexit will not affect how you can withdraw or transfer UK pension funds.

Pensions: What we don’t know

Post-Brexit, the UK no longer has to abide by EU rules on freedom of movement for capital; this could lead to increased taxation of UK pension withdrawals and transfers.

Last year, the UK introduced a 25% tax on transfers to Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) located outside the EU/EEA. Some speculate that this could be extended to within the EU once Britain sheds its obligations to the bloc.

As such, there may be limited time to transfer UK pensions without tax penalties. Make sure you take personalised, regulated advice before taking any action with your pensions.

Taxation: What we know

Each country sets their tax rules, not the EU, and tax treatment depends on whether you are resident, not your nationality. Brexit itself therefore has no effect on how Britons are taxed inFrance or elsewhere in the EU. However, under current rules, some non-EU/EEA assets are taxed differently.

A financial planning review can ensure your wealth and assets are structured as tax-efficiently as possible and prepare you for any Brexit implications.

Taxation: What we don’t know

Tax rules are always subject to change, even without Brexit. The main threat here comes from the UK; as the government loses its EU commitments it gains more freedom to tax nationals living in Europe. As already mentioned, pensions could be a key target.

Another could be tax relief rules for expatriates. For example, in recent years the government has threatened to remove the personal income tax allowance from non-resident British nationals. Taking this away from expatriates post-Brexit could be a relatively easy way for the Treasury to boost revenue in the future.

While the proposed withdrawal agreement and transition period provide some reassurance for expatriates, the final deal is not signed. With only months of certainty left, make sure you do what you can now to secure your position in your EU country of choice. A locally-based adviser can help you understand the cross-border implications and prepare appropriately for the post-Brexit world.


Article courtesy of Blevins Franks – they accept 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. Tax information has been summarised; individuals are advised to seek personalised advice.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Private sales - don't do it !

In the traditional real estate market, sellers and buyers in France & the UK, rely on estate agents to find buyers and agree / close the deal.However, some sellers forego the help of an agent and do a For Sale by Owner (FSBO for short). Many follow this approach because they want to avoid the dreaded word – “commission”.

Typically, estate agents charge anything from 4 - 8% of the sale price as a commission. This fee is always included in the advertised price, so regardless of how the contract is worded, the buyer pays the agency.

However, property owners are not as well informed as estate agents, despite what you think about an agent!

Many vendors make mistakes when doing a sale on their own, which could be avoided with the help of an estate agent.

Some of the adverts on Private Sale sites, and many of those on Facebook are truly cringe worthy. Absolutely awful in terms of information and images!

In addition, most houses on the market for sale by the owner, are on the market at significantly inflated prices as the sellers make the mistake of overpricing the property.

Meanwhile, a good estate agent has experience in how to correctly price properties, has access to a range of tools and data to help them accurately calculate the price of a property.

Moreover, some are do not have negotiation skills or simply possess the knowledge to smoothly and successfully close the transaction. Offers and negotiations often bring out the animal in individuals, as we know only too well.

Finally, the FSBO process can be emotionally difficult for sellers who are personally attached to their home and have a hard time of letting them go. This is, in fact, a reason why so many owners overprice their properties as to them their homes have sentimental value.

Quality of sale – estate agents are expert in the preparation of their sales particulars, and a DIY approach could put off a lot of serious buyers or make others think ‘where else in the house has the homeowner cut cost’.

An experienced estate agent is backed by a wealth of information about the housing market, both their own recent sales prices, competitors, valuations from their Notaire contacts, the statistics available both regionally and nationally. Estate agents live and breathe houses every day which makes them well-equipped to know the do’s and don’ts.