It’s been a busy week so far for the British Parliament, and it doesn’t look set to abate any time soon. The government has lost its majority but is still set on a 31st October Brexit deadline, while the Opposition and Tory rebels are pushing through a motion to block no-deal. An attempt to call for an election was blocked, but is likely to return to the House of Commons again on Monday.
So, with so much uncertainty going around – and no-deal not definitively off the table – can British buyers still purchase in the EU after Brexit?
Buying in the EU if there is a deal
If a deal does pass, there will probably be an implementation or withdrawal period of around two years. During this time, your rights shouldn’t change, so you’ll still be able to buy as now and live overseas, whether it’s for work, retirement or as a holiday.
This may now be a more probable scenario, as Parliament is highly likely to pass through its anti-no-deal bill soon. However, the biggest hurdle is what extension the EU would accept a further delay. There’s a split among the major countries, with France being somewhat more opposed to extension than, say, Germany.
Buying in the EU if there is no deal
If there is no deal, in theory, free movement would end at 23:00 on 31st October. However, there are said to be legal challenges to this, and it may take a while to implement.
Nonetheless, the essential principle will remain unchanged – that the UK will revert to ‘third-country status’. Does that mean that you would no longer have the right to buy property in Europe? Absolutely not! It’s important to remember that property ownership is not one of the EU’s four freedoms – hence the number of Americans, Australians, Chinese and more who buy and invest in the European Union every year.
The big change, however, will be not for ownership but border entry and residency. Currently, British people can move to any EU country without further paperwork, beyond, in some cases, registering themselves at the townhall. This will remain the case with Ireland, due to the Common Travel Area that has existed since independence, but will likely change for all other EU countries.
However, it’s not an insurmountable obstacle. It will essentially be a case of doing a bit more paperwork, which your dream of a new life abroad will be well worth! Most countries have a plethora of visas available, from working to investment and sometimes retirement. Equally, don’t forget about golden visas – Portugal, for instance, grants five-year residency for anyone who invests €500,000 in a property to the investor and their immediate family. So, you get your dream home and a fast track to local residency.
Normally, in almost all EU countries, if not all, you will be eligible to apply for citizenship after five years.
I’m buying a holiday home – how might Brexit impact me?
Good news in this case – you will hardly see any difference at all. As we’ve said, your right to own property will be unaffected. As a holiday home owner, you also won’t need residency, unless you spend longer than around 183 days a year in that country, in which case it will trump the UK as your country of residency.
All you’ll need therefore will be to get a tourist visa, which will be no hassle at all – likely just electronic – and will allow you to stay for bursts of three months at a time with no legal implications. More than enough time to enjoy the sun at your Portuguese villa, or French farmhouse!
The pound could suddenly drop at any time, again, with so much uncertainty around Brexit – but you can protect your money against this risk. Find out how in the Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency
If you find the home of your dreams but it’s beyond your budget, effective negotiation could make the vital difference. Download the How to Negotiate Abroad Guide.
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