Bad Brexit news for British expats in Eindhoven

Published:  28 Oct at 6 PM
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Whilst Europe watches the Brexit fiasco tottering towards some kind of conclusion benefiting no-one ,British expats in Eindhoven attended yet another British embassy meet-up.

Held at Eindhoven’s Hub expat centre, both representatives from the British Embassy and the Netherlands Immigration and Naturalisation Service were present, ready and willing to interpret the bad news for around 50 UK citizens ranging from retirees to students. A number of retirees had been denied the referendum vote as they’d been living overseas for more than 15 years, but nevertheless their lives are about to change in a manner no-one could possibly have imagined.

Questions from the floor covered every scenario from healthcare through becoming a Dutch citizen to pensions and more with, as usual, none of the officials able to answer or reassure with any certainty. A brief overview of the repercussions from a no-deal Brexit was given, as was leaving with a deal including certain rights and the fact that not much would change until the implementation period ends on December next year.

Should a no-deal Brexit happen just three days from the time of writing, the validity of all British passports should be checked at the website, as expats will need to have at least six month’s validity should they wish to travel to Schengen states. Residence permits should be carried at all times, and UK citizens will only be able to stay in non-residential countries for 90 out of every 180 days. Expats with pets should realise the EU pet passport will cease to be valid, requiring its replacement with Dutch or EU documentation.

UK driving licenses will no longer be considered valid and must be replaced with their Dutch equivalents no later than 15 months after a no-deal exit. British expats who have Dutch residency will be able to get healthcare via their compulsory medical insurance and, in the case of a no-deal, the UK government is asking for the current healthcare cooperation to be extended for one year. However, should a reciprocal healthcare agreement not be made, UK expats using the S1 form will no longer be covered for free medical treatment in the Netherlands.

Should a deal be reached, the rights of those living and working in the Netherlands won’t change until December next year but, in the case of a no-deal exit, employers must be given copies of employees residency permits and passports. A new residency permit must be applied for after 15 months and, for those retirees in receipt of the UK state pension, it's to be uprated until 2022.

A hallmark of the meeting was the more than obvious sadness, confusion and anxiety shown by the attendees whose carefully-chosen and preferred lifestyles were about to change for the worst as the result of a so-called ‘non-binding’ referendum undertaken to score political points against the then opposition. Many of those who’re affected have been expats for most of their lives, either due to their jobs or their own preferences, and are about to realise they’re just pawns in a game played by different rules than those on which they based their futures.
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