ex-pats brexit

There are a lot of questions surrounding Brexit, particularly when it comes to the millions of UK citizens living abroad, and the millions more who go on holiday to the EU every year. While most of the argument is focused on immigration, what happens when it’s the other way around? Will ex-pats need to return to the UK? Will British people need visas to travel to Europe? And will we still get healthcare protection on holidays in the EU?

To give you an idea what to expect, we’ve compiled a range of these questions together to give you an idea of what to expect if the UK leaves the EU.

Living or working abroad

Nearly everybody agrees that this is the area where Brexit will cause the most upheaval.

Currently, British people are entitled to live and work anywhere they like in the EU without a Visa. You can travel wherever you like and whenever you like. You can even live in any of the 28 member states for as long as you choose. You also have the same employment rights as people who were born in the country you choose to work in, thanks to EU laws.

If the UK leaves Europe, this will most likely change, becoming a lot more complicated. Theoretically, each member state could say that British people living or working in their country need a visa, as well as impose conditions on their stay. These new conditions might not be as good as they currently are.

For those already living abroad, it’s quite unlikely that EU countries will require ex-pats to apply for visas or ask them to leave. However, what is more likely is that these countries may withdraw automatic rights to things like healthcare and benefits. It will all depend on what the UK can negotiate in the years after Brexit.


At the moment, there is free travel for EU citizens who are visiting other EU countries. We don’t need a visa for entry, and barely need our passports.

Many experts agree that Brexit “probably” won’t have much of an effect on going on holiday in Europe, however there is a very small chance that EU states will require British people to have visas for short visits. This could mean extra hassle and interruption to holidays.

EU Health Insurance

Millions of Britons go on holiday to Europe every year, and when they do, they rely on the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). What an EHIC gives you is access to the same level of healthcare as any resident of the country you’re visiting. It’s not the same as travel insurance, but it does protect you if something goes wrong.

Simply put, it Britain leaves the EU, we’ll lose access to the EHIC scheme. What may happen is that we could renegotiate access later down the line as Switzerland and Iceland have.

In summary, if Britain leaves the EU, we won’t have the same level of access as we currently enjoy. The lack of free travel means that going on holiday and living in the EU will become more complicated. It may mean our safety on holiday is also affected, as well as our rights should we want to move abroad. Free travel and EU Employment Law are great things, and it’s important to think of what life in the UK would be like without them.

If you’re worried how Brexit could affect you, get simple and affordable legal advice from We Talk Law. We’re available 7 days a week over the phone and can give your the help you need without the cost of a solicitors’ firm. Call us for £68 on 0203 002 4898 today, or email advice@wetalklaw.co.uk.