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The effects of Brexit on property owners and buyers in Europe

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After the result of the Brexit Referendum we are frequently asked about the effect of this by both current and potential property owners within Europe. Puerto Banús boats

The reality is that until Article 50 is invoked there is no change and all the rights that owners of foreign property within Europe have at the moment remain the same. After Article 50 is invoked there will be a whole series of issues that need to be resolved and negotiated. Some will be easier than others. We anticipate that in most respects the rights that individuals have at the moment will remain broadly the same and do not anticipate huge changes but obviously we will not know until this all happens.

The sorts of issues that will need to be discussed and negotiated as far as the majority of private individuals who travel within Europe and own properties there are concerned include amongst other things:

1. The ability to visit European countries;

  • Visa requirements,
  • Time limits
  • Restrictions
  • Travel arrangements (driving, flying, ferry, boats etc.)
  • The ability to take things in and out of the country (own assets, goods bought in a country etc.)

2. The ability to travel freely within Europe once you are there

  • Visa requirements,
  • Time limits
  • Restrictions
  • Travel arrangements (driving, flying, ferry, boats etc.)
  • Ability to take things in and out of the country (own assets, goods bought in a country etc.)

3. Ability to bring goods back to the UK freely and take goods to Europe (for example taking your furniture to your property in Spain, bringing alcohol back from France etc.) whether for personal use or for business
4. Ability to own property in EU countries;

  • Restrictions on where you can buy? (E.g. country or even within a country - military sensitive areas, borders etc.)
  • Restrictions on how many properties you can buy?
  • Ability to rent out / restrictions on rental
  • Permission needed to buy?
  • Do you have to be resident or can you also be non-resident?
  • What does ownership entitle you to, if anything, over and above just a normal visit to the country

5. Ability to Live in Europe;

  • Work
    • Requirement for work visas?
    • Limit on length of time?
    • Ability to set up a business
    • Ability to be shareholder / director of a company
  • Retire after retirement age
  • Retire “early”

6. Implication on double taxation treaties

  • Capital Gains Tax
  • Income Tax
  • Inheritance tax

7. Treatment of taxation generally.

  • Equal tax rates between nationals and foreigners or between members of Europe and non-members of Europe.
  • Additional taxes on non EU citizens

8. Inheritance. There was a recent harmonisation of Inheritance Laws within Europe, which made things much easier and fairer. Although the UK opted out of that legislation there is still am impact on British citizens who own property abroad within Europe.
9. Consumer protection laws (for example Timeshare legislation, advertising standards, enforcement etc.)
10. Enforcement of judgements / debt collection between the UK and the EU. European Enforcement Orders
11. Lending laws / mortgage laws
12. Healthcare;

  • For visitors to Europe;
    • Free emergency healthcare (EHIC)
    • Non-emergency treatment / necessity for travel insurance
  • For people working within Europe
    • What is included / free
    • Necessity of insurance?
    • Requirement to work there?
  • For people retired in Europe but under retirement age (which retirement age will apply – UK or EU Country?)
    • What is included / free
    • Necessity of insurance?
  • For people retired in Europe but over retirement age (which retirement age will apply– UK or EU Country?)
    • What is included / free
    • Necessity of insurance?

13. Cross border transactions (for example agents selling property)

  • What laws in which countries apply?
  • What happens if the laws conflict?
  • Increased red tape due to, for example, requirement to register for anti-money laundering in two jurisdictions?
  • Consumer
  • Taxation on sales
  • Licenses to sell property in EU?

14. Retirement

  • Pensions
    • Ability to have pension paid directly to that country
    • Increase in pensions in line with inflation or static at date of moving?
  • Voting rights

15. Ability to apply for citizenship of EU country
16. Cars (and other vehicles including boats and planes);

  • Travelling within EU
  • Ability to export personal car to another country. How long do you have to re-register
  • Insurance issues when travelling in Europe
  • Enforcement of traffic legislation between countries

17. Pets

  • Ability to travel with them / Pet Passport

18. Administration;

  • Ability to have official documentation in a language of the EU / right to have documentation in English

19. Banking

  • Ability to have a bank account / open a bank account
  • How much money can you have in account
  • Restrictions on transfer of money
  • Protection of money in accounts
  • Ability to open an account in one country for use in another when the bank has a branch here.
  • Ease / harmonisation of Anti Money Laundering Regulations

From the above it is evident there are extensive issues to be discussed, negotiated and resolved and the items on the above list are only some of the things that affect private citizens in relation to travelling within Europe and owning property within Europe.

The list takes no consideration of any issues that affect businesses or even all the other issues that affect private individuals.

Disclaimer – International legal issues are a complex area of law and this information is no substitute for independent legal advice on an individual basis taking into consideration your personal circumstances and legal requirements. This information is provided to provide general information only and was correct at the time of publishing. The legal position in relation to international transactions can change frequently and this page may not have been updated following any changes in the law. You should therefore not rely on this information and should seek legal advice in relation to your personal circumstances.