We don’t yet know what will be the result of the Brexit trade negotiations. Will the British have a special status, or will we have the same rules as the other non-EU nations?

This guide, and these regular updates, run through the scenarios. The guide, free to download below, covers a situation where the British have no more right to live and work in Portugal than the citizens of any other non-EU country, such as the USA or Australia. Read the articles below for news updates and advice. 

Can British people buy a house in Portugal after Brexit?

British people will still be able to buy a home in Portugal after Brexit. The EU’s ‘four freedoms’ don’t cover property and non-EU nationals like Australians can currently purchase property. You’ll just need to ensure that, once you’ve bought it, you apply for the correct type of visa to enter the country yourself. Our dedicated article, with advice from expert lawyers, covers visas in more detail.

How do I buy property in Portugal after Brexit?

Simply follow the same buying process that you do now – start looking for your home, speak to estate agents, arrange a viewing trip, speak to currency exchange to sort out how to transfer to euros and you’re good to go. The only additional layer will be visas, but you’ll have plenty of time to apply for one during the purchase process. You’ll only need it to move, not to buy a house.

What will healthcare be like for expats in Portugal after Brexit?

If the Withdrawal Agreement goes through, then you’ll have an implementation period where you can continue with the same rights as before. Afterwards, it seems highly likely that a deal will be agreed for expats, as the Portuguese Foreign Ministry has already been announcing plans to encourage the continued growth of foreign residents.

Can I buy a holiday home in Portugal after Brexit?

British people will still be able to buy Portugal holiday homes after Brexit. All you need, as above, is to follow the usual buying process and then apply for a temporary tourist visa (valid for three months) when you come to visit.

Can British people find a job in Portugal after Brexit?

Yes, British people will be able to work in Portugal after Brexit, but you’ll need a work permit. You can find out more in our dedicated article on visas.

Download your free Portugal After Brexit Guide

The After Brexit Guide will help you plot your way through a possible post-Brexit scenario, to ensure you can fulfil that dream of a wonderful lifestyle combining the best of our two cultures. The guide will help you to answer:

  How does a non-EU person access state healthcare?

  Will I be able to buy residential property in Portugal?

  Could I take Portuguese citizenship?

And many more important questions.

Download your free After Brexit guide

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News update 3 December 2019:

What could a Conservative victory mean for your post-Brexit move?

Current polling suggests that the Conservatives will be returned next week with a commanding majority in parliament. What will that mean for those who are unable to gain residency in the EU before the end of the transition period?

The Conservative party plans a tightening up of the rules on EU immigration if it wins the election next week. It is widely expected that this would be reciprocated by European Union countries for British people moving to the EU.

It is widely expected that this would be reciprocated by European Union countries for British people moving to the EU

There are five main planks to their immigration plans, and either could affect people aiming to live or buy a property in Portugal if reciprocated.

1. No difference between EU and rest of the world

The manifesto says: “We will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. Regardless of whether they are from Europe or another part of the world, we welcome people who meet our criteria.” Anyone hoping, therefore, that some sort of special arrangement might operate between those countries where Brits and local people traditionally move, such as between Portugal and the UK, may be disappointed.

A US-style ESTA system will operate between the UK and Europe

2. US-style ESTAs for travel to/from the EU

As outlined by Home Secretary Priti Patel this week, rather than being allowed to travel to the UK on a national identity card as at present, EU citizens will need (a) a biometric passport and (b) to have pre-approval. She said: “In future, EU citizens will require an Electronic Travel Authorisation prior to travel, much like the US ESTA system.”

The ESTA for the USA requires visitors to the USA to apply at least three days before their travel and to pay $14 for a card that lasts five years. Every person needs one, including children. Failure to do so means they get turned away at the border (or refused boarding to their flight). The USA isn’t alone in this. Canada has a similar system called the eTA, which costs C$7, while New Zealand’s version, the NZETA costs NZ$9.

All the above systems are easy to apply for within minutes online and though you do pay initially they last for several years.

They also plan to “count in and count out” EU citizens to ensure they can be identified if they overstay the three-month travel limits likely to be imposed.

3. A points-based immigration system

The Conservative manifesto says: “We will create bespoke visa schemes for new migrants who will fill shortages in our public services, build the companies and innovations of the future and benefit Britain for years to come.” The basis of an application will be an Australian-style points-based immigration system.

This is where you score points for how desirable the government sees you as an immigrant. In particular, they give priority to people who speak good English and have good qualifications. Will Portugal impose a similar system on British people?

Home Secretary Priti Patel (Twocoms / Shutterstock.com)

4. Legal restrictions?

The Home Secretary said that the plans were intended to prevent terrorists and other dangerous criminals from entering the UK. However, could the UK, like the US, implement far more draconian restrictions? After all, the US immigration officials advise that people “who have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, have a criminal record, certain serious communicable illness, have been refused admission into, or have been deported from, the United States, or have previously overstayed under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program…” will be prevented from automatic entry.

If similar rules are introduced to the UK, and reciprocated by the EU, could it a youthful indiscretion 40 years ago prevents you retiring to Portugal?

5. Access to healthcare and benefits

The manifesto says that people coming into the country from the EU will only be able to access unemployment, housing, and child benefit after five years. This is the same as for people moving here from non-European Union countries. Bear in mind that under Theresa May the health secretary was suggesting that a continuation of the EHIC system would be possible. So this is quite the departure.

The good news: The good news is that many thousands of non-EU nationals live in Portugal, with a variety of visa options.

Previous news updates:

News update 16 November 2018:

Deal or no deal: what does each mean for your property in Portugal?

Theresa May delivers her Brexit agreement, 14th November 2018

After Brexit, either with a deal or no deal, the British will be “third-country” nationals when viewed from Portugal. But we won’t be the only ones. The Portugal Property Guide has readers from Sydney to San Francisco, the UAE to Brazil, but it is only from the UK, lately, that readers have been worrying about healthcare, visas and buying property.

Why the worry? Portugal Property Guides has delved deep into the likely Brexit scenarios – soft Brexit, hard Brexit or no deal – and we are confident that there are no realistic circumstances whereby British people need to abandon their dream.

British people will have (a) no problem buying property in Portugal and (b) little extra difficulty or expense living there. Even with no deal. Here is how we reached those conclusions:

Property ownership is not one of the EU’s four freedoms and so your right to buy property in Portugal will not affected.


Ownership of property is not one of the EU’s four freedoms (goods, capital, work and services) and so your right to buy property in Portugal will not be affected. That applies in whatever form Brexit happens, even with no deal.


A Brexit deal should mean we can rule out worries over healthcare. The current plan, as outlined by the UK Health Secretary, is for the UK to continue the EHIC system and cover the cost of reciprocal healthcare in EU countries. This will cover British retirees and “those with chronic conditions, disabilities or other long-term conditions that require ongoing medical attention.”

A Brexit deal should mean we can rule out worries over healthcare.

In the event of no deal you may need health insurance until a new EHIC system can be worked out.

  • If you’re NOT living in Portugal full time, normal travel insurance should suffice.
  • Those working in Portugal will pay into the Spanish social security system and will be covered.
  • If you are on a long-term visa you may need comprehensive insurance. There is already a wide variety of options available for as little as €300 per month.


British people will automatically become ‘Third Country’ nationals in Portugal. The good news is that European leaders have stated categorically that even with no deal people from the UK will not require a visa for visits of 90 days or fewer in every 180. So you can travel backwards and forwards as many times as you like.

If you stay for longer than that, you may need a visa.

Working: The British government says that EU citizens moving to work in the UK after the transition period will need a work visa. We can assume that would be reciprocated by Portugal. If you need a work visa you will be just like the hundreds of thousands of non-EU people successfully working in the UK. If you want to, it is perfectly possible to learn Portuguese, get your UK qualifications recognised, and work in Portugal. Why not give it a try?

Other options include investor visas, company transfers and the European Blue Card. There is also the Irish passport option. Over 10% of the British population qualifies for one, and the processes to apply are simple and inexpensive.

Retiring:  Nothing has yet been announced about the “economically inactive” moving countries. A visa waiver system may be implemented as they won’t be taking jobs from local people. You may have to prove sufficient income to avoid being a burden on the state. We don’t know how much that will be in Portugal, but in France it’s an income of €10,000 for one or €15,000 per couple.

Third country nationals need a visa if staying for more than 90 days in any 180. So you will be able to live in Portugal for half the year.

Of course there may be paperwork involved – but Portugal has a modern and well-run bureaucracy and we are confident that the processes will be simple and transparent, as they are for American and Australia buyers today. In short, even with no deal, there are many ways to get a visa for Portugal, most of them are quite painless.

Your questions answered

“I’m buying a holiday home”

No problem. Nothing should change.

“I’m buying investment property”

Buy away, there will be no restriction.

“I’m retiring”

You may need a visa, but we expect it to be a simple system or visa waiver. There is also a ‘golden visaif you spend €500,000 on a Portuguese property.

 “I’m just visiting my home!”

You will have no problem at all traveling to Portugal. Other Third Country nationals such as Americans, Australians etc. don’t need a tourist visa for Portugal, and we have had no reports of them being held up unduly at customs

Brexit positives

Not only are the potential problems with Brexit likely to have been seriously overblown, but there will be benefits too.

  1. The worries of so many British people about Brexit – we believe unfounded – have held back demand for Portuguese property. This is a great time to buy for those willing to fill in a couple of extra forms!
  2. Similarly, the evidence is that some Brits in Portugal are returning to the UK, gaining from the weakness of the pound compared to pre-Referendum levels. This is a real opportunity to make an offer on under-priced property.

If you are ready to move to Portugal, contact the Portugal Resource Centre on 020 7898 0549 or email [email protected].

If you are still at the planning stage, download the Portugal Buying Guide.

A no deal could have implications for your car insurance

Update: 24 September 2018, “No deal” advice through from government on pet travel and car insurance.

The UK government’s provided information on what we can expect in the case of a “no deal” Brexit for pet transport and car insurance.

UK nationals would need proof of third-party car insurance

If we leave the European Union without a deal, the UK will no longer be part of the ‘Green Card-free circulation area’. This means motorists will need to carry a Green Card to show proof of having car insurance. Normally, you should be able to request one from your insurance provider for free.

Motorists should expect documentation checks to take place upon entry to the Green Card-free area.

This is subject to agreements being reached between the UK Motor Insurers’ Bureau and those of other relevant countries.

“No deal” means live animals will require an EHC

Unless other rules are negotiated, anyone bringing a live animal from the UK – which will be outside the EU – into the EU will have to have an Export Health Certificate, signed by a vet or other authorising authority. They will have to go through an inspection process by Border Inspection Post and, after the inspection, the EHC would need to be signed by an ‘Official Veterinarian’.

For animals to be allowed to be exported to the EU, the UK would need to achieve ‘third-country’ status. If not, all exports would cease. However, other countries such as Australia have this status, so it seems likely.

Update: September 2018, Government offers “no deal” advice on passports, driving and roaming charges.

The UK government has announced what we can expect when travelling, driving and using mobiles in the EU after Brexit if the UK and EU don’t agree to a deal.

UK nationals may need at least three months’ validity on passports

UK citizens after Brexit will be considered as third-country nationals, ie as non-EU citizens. UK nationals entering a Schengen country (any EU country apart from Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia) will need to check their passports meet these conditions:

  • Have an issue date no more than ten years before the date of entering a Schengen country
  • Have at least three months before the passport expires

Third-country nationals can stay in a Schengen country for three months. As such, the government advises that the second requirement may in fact be for six months, to cover those three months within the Schengen area.

Roaming charges will fall to commercial decision-makers

If the UK exits the EU without a deal, it’ll be outside of the ‘Roam like at home’ rules. These allow EU citizens to use their data in any other EU country the same as in their home country.

UK operators will no longer be under the EU regulations if there’s no deal. This means they’ll be free to set their own surcharges – so it’ll come down to a commercial decision. However, Vodafone, EE, 3 and O2 have all confirmed they don’t have any intention to increase surcharges. Other operators have yet to commit.

UK licences may no longer be valid in the EU

The UK government has confirmed that UK driving licences may no longer be valid in the EU, if there is no deal agreed. In this case, the rules would default to International Driving Permits (IDP). The same as when UK citizens drive outside the EU, they’d have to apply for one of these before being able to drive.

There are two types of IDP.

The 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic governs the first type. After the UK exits the EU, they would be valid in Ireland, Malta, Spain and Cyprus. They last for 12 months.

The second type is governed by the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. The IDPs from this convention are valid for three years in all EU countries apart from those listed above. It’d also be valid in Norway and Switzerland.

Currently, the first type is available from the Post Office or directly from private companies. By the time the UK leaves the EU, both will be taken over by the UK government and available from the Post Office. When UK nationals travel to the EU, they’ll need their UK driving licence and IDP.

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How can the Portugal Property Guide help you?

The Portugal Property Guide is designed to support you through every stage of the Portuguese property buying process. From how to get started, to finding an estate agent, to covering all the important legal and financial considerations, our experts are here to share valuable advice and to help you every step of the way.

We have created the Portugal Property Guide to help highlight the many pitfalls of buying in Portugal and to ensure that our readers can buy their dream home in Portugal safely, without wasting time and money like many would-be homebuyers before them.

Over the last ten years, we have built up a network of trusted experts to provide independent, factual guidance on all aspects of buying property in and moving to Portugal. Our Portugal Property Guide country specialist, Laura Richards, has been talking to homebuyers in Portugal and helping them to buy their property in Portugal safely for a number of years. She is at the other end of the telephone at our Resource Centre to answer any questions and support our readers throughout the property buying process.

Our experts are trusted by well-known media such as Rightmove Overseas and the Radio Times to provide information and guidance about buying overseas property. They are regularly quoted in the media on the issues that really matter to people buying property and starting a new life overseas.

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