Six burning questions for British expats about Brexit

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Six burning questions for British expats about Brexit
Photo: DPA.

We all knew that a win for Brexit would create some measure of uncertainty but for those expats who have chosen to take full advantage of the European Union freedom of movement and make their home in Germany, the questions just keep mounting.


No-one will be asked to move home or even be made to apply for a visa or residency permit just yet.

We've covered the big issues, such as how Brexit might affect the German economy and whether we should all be thinking about applying for German citizenship, but now that the reality of Brexit is sinking in, a few more questions about the future of Brits in Germany have surfaced.

While we can’t give you any answers - except wait and see - these are just some of the issues that could have profound consequences when Britain is no longer an EU member-state.

What about healthcare?

The British Embassy in Berlin has been reminding its citizens in Germany the healthcare situation hasn't yet changed: The UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows you to access German state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost and sometimes free while you're making a temporary visit, according to the NHS.

Students abroad in Germany as part of their degree will be covered by their UK EHIC for the duration of their programme. If you're studying and the course is not part of your degree, the EHIC is valid for one year.

Plus - for now - if you're a UK state pensioner living in Germany and are registered with an S1 form for the European Economic Area, you can go back to Blighty without German authorisation and have access to treatment as if you were still living there.

But according to the Foreign Office: "If you are not normally a resident of the UK, and therefore do not have entitlement to a UK-issued EHIC, the German authorities may decide to treat you as a private patient."

What will Brexit do to my pension?

Photo: DPA.

If British citizens are still permitted to retire in an EU state, they may find their pensions affected, not least because at present, anyone who retires within the European Economic Area has their state pension increased every year under the “triple-lock” system. 

This means that pensions rise by the higher of wage or price inflation, subject to a minimum of 2.5pc. With Brexit the UK will have to negotiate individual reciprocal agreements with EU countries if annual state pension increases for expats were to continue.

Will my driving license still be valid ?

Just as in the case of UK passports, driving licences issued in the UK are EU-branded and will have to be phased out as people renew them. But post Brexit will British driving licenses be valid in Germany, or will people living here have to apply for German ones? What about those expats who have already got themselves a German driving licence? Will they be valid if and when you return to post-Brexit Britain?

This is all still unclear.

Photo: DPA.

Will Brexit bother my four-legged companion?

Remember those days when pets had to suffer six-months of quarantine to be brought into the UK? The EU pet passport scheme put an end to that in an agreement where animal companions can travel freely to other member countries.

But for the those Brits who take their furry pals back and forth between Germany and the UK each year, Brexit might seem like a disaster.

What about the study abroad programme?

The Erasmus+ scheme is an EU programme open to education, training, youth and sports organizations. It offers opportunities for UK participants to study, work, volunteer, teach and train in Europe. 

And thousands of British students opt to study in Germany each year, while the UK is among the top five destinations for German students.

Jo Johnson, British Minister of State for Universities and Science, released this statement following the referendum result:

"The referendum result does not affect students studying in the EU, beneficiaries of Erasmus+ or those considering applying in 2017. The UK’s future access to the Erasmus+ programme will be determined as a part of wider discussions with the EU.

"More broadly, existing UK students studying in the EU, and those looking to start in the next academic year, will continue to be subject to current arrangements."

But after Brexit, who knows?

What will happen to roaming?

Photo: DPA.

Mobile phone users across Europe are looking forward to the complete removal of roaming charges among EU states in June 2017, but the controls were introduced under an EU regulation and are not incorporated into UK law.

So the UK will have to negotiate their own deal with mobile phone operators once Brexit occurs or we will all be looking at a hike in roaming charges on trips back to Blighty.

Don't Panic, Keep Calm and Wait and See.

Whatever is on the cards for the next few months and years, just remember that right now nothing has changed.

And as the British Embassy in Berlin keeps reminding us on social: nothing so far is changing in your daily expat life.

By Fiona Govan with contributing reporting from Emma Anderson


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