The definite guide to moving abroad and living in the EU after Brexit

a family planning on living in eu after brexit

Have you been considering a move to Europe after Brexit? In 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU and since then there have been many questions and concerns regarding how the transition will affect UK citizens. One of the many things affected is a UK national’s ability to live in another EU country.

Prior to Brexit UK citizens could move to EU countries without the need for visas, however, this is no longer the case. This blog post will give you clarity on what to expect if you are moving abroad now or are planning on living in the EU in future.

UK citizens currently living in Europe

The British Government agreed on a deal with 31 EU countries that accept freedom of movement. If you are currently living within one of these 31 countries, then your rights are protected under the withdrawal agreement.

Living abroad in the EU after Brexit won’t be much different for you, as all British citizens who are lawfully living in an EU member state before 31/01/21 can continue to live, work and study there. However, you will need to apply for a residency permit.

Driving License

If you hold a driver’s license, then you will need to get that switched over to your new residence and you will need to apply for a car insurance green card. This is especially important for those planning to move within the EU by car or if your job requires a lot of car travel.

Is it possible to move to Europe after Brexit?

The answer to this, in short, is yes. However, it is more complicated than it was before Brexit.

Due to Brexit, the cost of moving to European countries has increased. This is because of increased VAT costs and VAT duty for bringing items into the EU. Your move will be subject to the immigration rules of your new country, and you no longer have the right to free movement.

This means that you will need to apply for a visa and that you will have to prove your right to live and work in the country.

Additionally, you will need to open a bank account within your new resident country, which requires a permanent address and a visa too. You don’t need to purchase a property, but you will need to provide the address of the property you are renting if that is the case.

The only country in exception to these rules is Ireland. UK citizens do still have the right to move to Ireland without a visa, opening up a new bank account and without being subject to any other immigration rules.

How about a short-term move?

Don’t worry, if you are just going on holiday to an EU country, Brexit will not affect this. This is because the EU has agreed to add the UK to the list of visa-exempt countries. This means you can spend 90 days in an EU country without the need for any visas or documentation.

It is only if you intend on staying in the EU for longer than 90 days or if you intend to work or study within the EU that things get a bit more complicated.

a woman moving to spain after brexit

Common destinations for UK citizens in a bit more detail

For those braving the big international move, here is some additional information on the top 3 EU relocation destinations.

Moving to France after Brexit

If you are moving to France after Brexit, then you will need to apply for a long-stay visa. If your application is successful, you will have a year to apply for a residence permit which can be done at your local prefecture.

When applying at your local prefecture you will need a photo of your passport, with one more additional document to indicate your date of settlement. This could be something such as a home insurance certificate. Use this helpful flow chart to see what additional document(s) you may need to provide.

Moving to Spain after Brexit

Firstly, you need to acquire a temporary residence visa. You are then required to make an appointment with the Spanish Consulate in London – you will need to arrange this by email. During the process, you will need to give them the following information.

  • Name
  • Nationality
  • Passport Number
  • Telephone Number
  • Preferred date for appointment, the only days are Tuesdays and Thursdays

You can apply for a temporary visa whilst in Spain too, but you must do this at an immigration office within 30 days of you arriving in the country. This method is not recommended as it is more stressful!

A temporary visa allows you to stay in Spain for anywhere from 3 months to five years, depending on your circumstances. Once you have lived in Spain for 5 years you can apply for a permanent residence visa.

It sounds complicated but when you look back moving to Spain, even after Brexit, will be the best thing you’ve ever done!

Moving to Germany after Brexit

The government in Germany have created a tool to help check on whether you will be accepted into the country – and it only takes a few minutes!

You will find that if you are moving to Germany for work, then you will most definitely need a binding job offer and either a vocational qualification or a university degree.

You can only start working once you have applied for a residence permit, and this must be completed within 90 days of entering the country. If your qualifications are from an organisation outside of Germany (such as the UK) then you may have to prove that your qualification is equivalent to the German one. UK universities have got a good reputation abroad, so if you have completed your degree at a UK university there is little need to worry.

You can also check if your new role requires you to receive official recognition that your qualification is of equal quality to its German counterpart. You can this on the government page. You will need this if you are in a regulated profession such as medicine.

If you don’t need official recognition, then you might need a statement of comparability. However, this depends on your place of residence and your residency status. This will also help you to explain your qualifications, especially if you are moving jobs!

living in the eu after brexit concept with a moving van on an eu flag

Price comparison

The cost of moving to and living in EU countries after Brexit has significantly increased. This is due to a mixture of factors, including increased VAT on anything we bring into EU countries alongside the payments for all our visas, permits etc.

The table below shows the average cost of moving a 3-bedroom house before and after Brexit.

Destination Before Brexit After Brexit
Road Cost Sea Cost Road Cost Sea Cost
France (Paris) £1,530 – £2,125 £3,875 – £5,100 £1,800 – £2,500 £4,500 – £6,200
Germany (Berlin) £2,125 – £2,975 £4,000 – £5,500 £2,500 – £3,500 £4,700 – £6,500
Spain (Barcelona) £2,550 – £,400 £4,000 – £5,600 £3000 – £4000 £4,700 – £6,300
Switzerland (Geneva) £2,780 – £3780 £4,200 – £5,650 £3,200 – £4,400 £4,900 -£6,600


Moving abroad with your family and kids

Moving abroad can be stressful enough as it is with all the permits, documents and moving arrangements. However, this can affect your family and children too. Your partner will be more understanding than your kids.

However, sometimes it can be tough for children to understand moving abroad as they may be leaving friends along with familiar surroundings. It’s best to speak to your kids as early as possible: explain the move and reassure them that everything will be okay and that they will make plenty of new friends at your new home.

Taking them to visit prior to moving is a great thing to do if you have the time, try to show them all the positive about your new home – and anything child-orientated show them that.

One example could be football; if your kid is into football, show them there are local teams they can play for, pitches where they can play and, if you are nearby a club, then matches that you can go and see with them. Anything like this can help to brighten up the idea of moving overseas to your children and show them that there are fun things to do at your new destination too.

Simplify your European move with VanaMango

If your head is spinning at all of the documentation and planning involved with living in the EU after Brexit, allow us to share some of the load. Booking your European move couldn’t be easier with our user-friendly online portal. Simply put in all of the details – and we’ll sort the rest.