The UK Government has written to 365,000 UK Nationals living in Europe with advice on the actions they need to take to prepare for the end of the UK transition period on 31 December. This includes around 12,000 of these letters issued in Portugal.
The letters, sent to UK State Pensioners and benefit recipients, give advice on how to register for residency and healthcare, exchange driving licences and check new passport validity rules online. It is one of the largest-ever mail outs by the UK Government to UK nationals living in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The UK Government has been running a public information campaign featuring online, radio and newspaper adverts across 30 countries informing UK Nationals of the actions they need to take. This is in addition to the hundreds of town hall meetings, street surgeries and online Q&As run by the UK’s Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates across Europe.
The UK Government has also allocated £3 million for charities and voluntary organisations across Europe to assist UK Nationals that may need additional help to register or apply, to protect their residency rights. This includes potentially at-risk groups, such as pensioners and disabled people and those living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties. Beneficiaries in Portugal include the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) that is collaborating with the Embassy to support those UK nationals in Portugal and their families members to complete their residency applications.
UK Nationals can find the most up to date information on actions they may need to take in the ‘Living in Portugal Guide’.
1. Citizens’ rights:
UK Nationals’ rights to continue living in EU member states are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement (and Separation Agreement with EFTA countries), provided they are permanently resident and exercising their treaty/free movement rights by 31 December 2020. This is not affected by the UK’s ongoing trade negotiation with the EU.
Actions UK Nationals may need to take include:
- Applying or registering for residency
- Checking or registering for healthcare
- Exchanging UK driving licence
- Checking passport validity
2. Contacting UK Nationals:
There is no requirement for UK Nationals to register with their local British Embassy and the UK Government does not keep a database of UK Nationals living overseas, however a large number of UK Nationals are Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) customers which enables the UK Government to contact them with information that’s relevant to their circumstances. This mail out to DWP customers, which may include a small number of non-UK Nationals, is intended to supplement a public information campaign operating in all EU and EFTA countries (except Ireland, where these changes do not apply).