Soft Brexit, hard Brexit: The difference for expats explained | Personal Finance | Finance

But what does that actually mean for those UK nationals living abroad?

Residency rights for UK expats

The Prime Minister promised that EU citizens currently living in the UK would have their rights protected as long as the EU pledged to do the same for the 1.2 million UK expats currently living in member states.

This was the biggest concern for expats, as in the run-up to the negotiations the UK government had seemed intent on using the rights of EU nationals in the UK as a bargaining chip to secure the rights of UK expats.

However, the EU moved first, outlining its own plans to allow expats to stay.

There are still potential tension points, however – in particular with regards to the cut-off point after which EU citizens arriving in the UK will no longer be able to aim for full citizenship.

Theresa May did want the deadline to be the 29th of March this year, the date on which she formally triggered Article 50 and began the exit process; the EU believe it should be on the day that the UK officially leaves the EU – likely sometime in March 2019.

The European Parliament has already indicated that it will block any deal on Brexit that sets an earlier cut-off date, so there is still a way to go before UK expats in the EU can truly relax.

However, it is cheering that both sides seem committed to providing certainty to expats in both the EU and the UK as quickly as possible.

So it is likely that before we even know whether or not we are heading for a definitively hard or soft Brexit, UK nationals living overseas will already have a solid idea of how their future will play out.

But after the initial talks on residency rights have been settled, how much will you really be affected as an expat by the type of Brexit the UK settles for?

The main issues distinguishing a soft or hard Brexit are free trade and free movement, the former doesn’t really affect you and the latter will have already been settled in preliminary negotiations.

What really matters is whether the UK aims for the…

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