Brexit and your life and property in Portugal
With the UK now out of the European Union, you may be worried that buying your dream home in the Portuguese sunshine, or enjoying a long and healthy retirement on the Algarve, is no long possible.
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Brexit is not the end of your overseas property dreams.
It’s true that with the UK having left the European Union, some new rules will apply to British people moving to Portugal and other EU countries.
However, the good news is that property buyers will be completely unaffected by Brexit. It is only if you are moving permanently that new rules will apply.
Even those who will be affected – principally those planning to retire, work or study in Portugal – have until the end of 31 December 2020 to become resident abroad and keep all their current EU rights.
Here are your essential need-to-knows, covering the three crucial issues of the right to buy property, your access to healthcare, and your right to live in Portugal.
1. The right to buy and own property
You will continue to be able to buy and own property in Portugal after Brexit, just as before, even after the transition period. Property ownership comes under Portuguese, not EU control. You will also be able to rent it out, just the same as an EU citizen.
2. Access to health services
For holiday home buyers:
During transition: You can continue to use your EHIC and current reciprocal healthcare arrangements.
After transition: The EHIC may continue to operate, but if not, you will require travel health insurance
During transition: You can continue to use reciprocal healthcare arrangements by registering at your local health centre (centro de saúde) and getting a health number, and filling in an S1 form if you’re retired. You shouldn’t use your UK EHIC card if you’re a full-time resident.
After transition: The government says if you are resident by 31 December, you will have ‘life-long healthcare rights’, as long as you remain resident. It is likely that there will be further healthcare cooperation, but it remains to be announced.
3. Right to residence
If staying less than half the year:
You should not need a visa. Most non-EU citizens are allowed free access without a visa for 90 days in every 180.
If staying more than half the year:
If planning to live in Portugal full time, and you cannot move before the transition period ends, you will probably need a visa.
You can receive your pension in Portugal if you are retired, whether you move before or after the Brexit transition period. You may also be able to claim certain Portuguese benefits, if you qualify, but this will depend whether you move before after the transition period.
Move before end of transition: If you are resident in Portugal before 31 December 2020 your pension will continue to be paid and up-rated every year, just as it would be in the UK. That applies even if you retire after that date. You will also be able to pay contributions into your pension.
Move after transition period: You will still receive your UK pension in Portugal. However, whether it will be up-rated each year has not yet been settled. The latest from the UK government is that: “the rules on entitlement to UK benefits in these countries will depend on the outcome of negotiations with the EU and may change.”
If you are a resident in Portugal, you can change your UK driving licence for a Portuguese permit up till the end of the transition period (although it must be registered with the Instituto da Mobilidade e de Transportes within sixty days of arrival, or you could be fined).
After the transition period, British travellers wanting to drive in Europe may need an international driving permit (IDP). These are available at any British Post Office over the counter. The countries outside the EU this is currently needed for can be seen on the official list here.
“What about me?” Your questions answered
Let”s put that into some real-life examples.
“I’m buying a holiday home” No problem. Nothing will change.
“I’m moving to the EU to retire/work/study, BEFORE 31 December 2020” No problem. You will not need a visa, but remember to get a residency card (autorização de residência) as soon as you can.
“I’m moving to the EU to retire/work/study, AFTER 31 December 2020“ You may need a visa. A D7 passive income visa will let you move with an income (including pension) of roughly €580 a month. You can also work on a residence visa for either ‘subordinate’ or ‘independent’ professional activity, depending on whether you’re employed or self-employed.
If you buy a property worth €500,000 or more, you may qualify for a golden visa, giving you and your family fast-track residency, renewable for five years.
Remember, if you are simply buying a property and not planning to spend more than 3 months of the year in Portugal, there is no change! You can press ahead with your plans. We’d love to help along the way. Get in touch with us any time on 020 7898 0549 and don’t forget to download our free guide to buying in Portugal.