As Brexit is fast approaching, it is important to understand what can the effects be in the event the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without an agreement, namely regarding the protection of British nationals residing in Portugal.

According to the Portuguese law published in March, all current rights will be guaranteed to British citizens legally residing in Portugal on or before the Brexit date and until 31 December 31, 2020 (the end of the transition period).

Under this regime, those who have lived in Portugal for less than five years will be entitled to a temporary residence permit, while older residents will have a “permanent residence permit or long-term resident status”. In any case, all interested persons will have to apply for a residence permit until December 31, 2020 and prove that they were living in Portugal on the date of Brexit. This process will be dealt with by municipal councils and registry offices, under the responsibility of the Foreigners and Borders Service.

Regarding higher education, British citizens who are already studying at a Portuguese higher education institution or enrolling until 31 December 2020 are excluded from the status of international student until they complete the cycle of studies in which they enrolled or to which they transition.

British pensioners living in Portugal retain all their pension rights and access to health care provided in all NHS services and establishments.

This said, it should also be noted that Portugal shall only apply the above regime for British citizens if it is established that the British authorities will apply equivalent measures to Portuguese citizens residing in the UK.

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