The future for expats living in Portugal

Repercussions of Brexit for expats living in Europe

A lot of readers will be concerned about the implications for expats living in Europe of the dramatic vote on Thursday for the UK to leave Europe. The are 1.3 million Britons living in the EU compared to 3 million non-British UK residents.


The Telegraph a while ago posed the question ”Could Brexit see expats deported by EU members?”, and concluded it was highly unlikely. The article pointed out that there are numerous political reasons for EU states not to do such a thing, including the treatment of their own nationals living in the UK. The Lusa Press Agency yesterday quoted the Portuguese Minister of Planning Pedro Marques support Portuguese in UKand Infrastructure, Pedro Marques, as “lamenting” the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, but accepting that it was a democratic act by its citizens. “It is a decision we obviously regret. Not the fact that the people voted democratically, because that is normal and healthy in a democracy”, he said. “We are European supporters and we want Europe to continue to expand and continue to be a space of cohesion and peace”, he said. The minister also sent a message to Portuguese emigrant communities, particularly the one in the UK: “The government will do everything so the living conditions of these people is ensured and that they have all the support they need at this time”. In 2014 the Portugal News reported that 30,000 Portuguese were arriving in the UK every year – a remarkable one in four of those leaving their country each year.
Returning to the Telegraph article, it notes that expats would also enjoy significant legal protections that will apply after Brexit. Many lawyers argue that British expats living elsewhere in the EU at the time of Brexit would have individual “acquired rights” under international law.
1969 Vienna Treaty cover expats residing in EuropeThis is based on the Vienna Convention of 1969, which says that the termination of a treaty “does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination.” The House of Commons Library says that “withdrawing from a treaty releases the parties from any future obligations to each other, but does not affect any rights or obligations acquired under it before withdrawal.” In other words, Brits who have already exercised their right to live in EU states can expect to keep that right after Brexit. Presumably the cut-off point will be when the “divorce” is technically concluded in two years time at the earliest.
The Telegraph makes one important final point: the above only applies to people who have started expat life in the EU before Brexit. After Britain has left, Brits’ ability to live and work in EU nations would depend on new agreements the UK negotiates with those nations.

Second homes in Portugal

No matter how hostile European nations become after Brexit, they still have to respect individual property rights. Both the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights make this clear. It is possible, however, that remaining EU nations could consider a variety of measures, depending on vindictive they feel towards Britain, like making UK homeowners pay more in tax.

Health care

This is a somewhat grey area, but the same Telegraph article concludes that healthcare is unlikely to be withdrawn from expats – not least given that it would open the door to retaliatory measures from the UK which hosts its own share of expats from European nations: there are as many as 3 million EU nationals living in Britain. British expats can also claim to pay their own way in Europe, as the UK paid £674 million in 2014-2015 to other European countries for the treatment of UK nationals. However, the UK received just £49 million from other European nations in the same year to treat those from other countries residing in the UK.

The Portuguese perspective

Antonio Costa reassures expatsSapo report that the Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa observed yesterday that this “is a sad day for the European Union”.
The head of government is directly quoted as saying that Portugal “will endeavour to ensure all rights of the Portuguese community in the UK” and will also guarantee “all the rights of British citizens who live, visit or invest in Portugal.”

54 thoughts on “The future for expats living in Portugal”

  1. Well Well, what a turn up for the books 🙂

    As individuals we are sovereign and as such our rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness are set in stone.

    The BBC was skewing the vote results like mad all the way through in order to keep the real sentiment from being known.

    Expats have nothing to worry about 🙂 Personally I do not think that the EU will now last 12 months…..

    Britain once again has forged a path to freedom from tyranny and Portugal and the rest of the EU members should follow suit.

    This is not the end of Europe, this is a new beginning 🙂

  2. I am from london
    I have lived in the Netherlands and Australia
    And having returned to London 6 years ago am hoping to retire to Madeira next year.
    Firstly lets remember 48% did not want to leave
    Myself and family included
    London , Liverpool , Scotland and Northern Ireland did not want to leave. Ironically most of the areas voting out have little or no immigration and surprisingly little money.
    I have watched people today saying they voted out as a joke!
    I have 2 daughters a barrister and a business consultant who grew up in europe and wanted to work and maybe study in europe. I am disgusted by the 52% majoritively over 65 years of age who hanker back to a world they think they can get back pre EU
    Lets renember before England joined we were the poor man of Europe
    Australia does not have any magic answers either

    We are ashamed to be British
    And like 48% consider ourselves european
    Today we signed petitions for a second referendum
    And also independance for London
    This wasnt a referendum about the EU it was one about austerity and a north south divide
    And a lot of stupid embitered people blaming others
    For their inability to get what they think they are owed
    In life
    I cant wait to leave the UK
    But will fight for the rights of all those under 35s the old over 65s who will anyway be dead soon have taken away

    • @K Jones

      What a bigoted person you are….

      My parents are from Madeira and emigrated to the UK in 75. They never once asked for any kind of benefit to my knowledge and only accepted child benefit as this is universal.

      Scotland voted to remain out of spite for not gaining independance due to of course vote rigging. I am absolutely amazed that Britain actually managed to break free due to all the pencils in the polling stations.

      The BBC who if you remember tend to obscure the truth and hide Paedophilia would of course misreport the actual voting figures. Imagine if the REAL numbers where to be released which would of course reinforce the Majority who voted to leave. The simple fact that leave won is the first shot across the bow of the globalists, bankers, and the minority who control through debt slavery the majority.

      @K Jones, you state that one of your children is a Barrister. So I take it that they would be based at the Temple in London forcing European mandated laws upon the populace?

      The British people have spoken and no petition will make any difference and it should not! Anyone can sign a petition be they British or not.

      The EU has failed, just look at the unjust difference in minimum wages from North to South Europe. Youth unemployment is extremely high and will continue to rise.

      Portugal’s economy has been demolished due to the EU project, the European Union is a lame duck and will shortly implode due to all the people from other EU countries demanding their own referendum to leave. Why would they want to leave if the EU is so good?

      There is a much bigger picture to consider in regards to dismantling the EU and it’s tyranny. I bet you have not even looked at how the EU was just about to force through TTIP which is the exact reason that Obama was in the UK backing Cameron.

      The time to change and forge a new path is here, the British people have spoken and they are right and sovereign….

  3. Well said K Jones.

    What an absolute mess we are now in, both Conservatives and Labour in turmoil, Scotland and London wanting independence and the mess we have made for ourselves and the rest of Europe. I heard one pensioner who voted out complain that his shares had reduced in value!!!! well what did he expect.
    There are going to be a lot people who will suffer financially who can least afford it both in UK and the knock on effect in Europe and there is also the worry of all the uncertainty this is causing.
    I am also ashamed to say that I am British and am so pleased that I have settled in Madeira. Thank you Madeira for having us and I hope you wont hate us too much for all the problems we have caused.219

  4. We live in a democracy, that means we live by the decision of the majority, are you saying that older votes hold less value than younger ones,
    you state that you will fight for the rights of the under 35’s as the over 65’s will be dead soon -pathetic is the word that comes to mind- dangerous is another- when we start to put voters into groups, then value one over the other- what next- those with a low IQ, should they vote?, what about the poor and uneducated?,women? when would this end- only when the wealthy and highly educated make the decisions- we tried that before, look what happened, one man one vote- if you dont like it maybe you should move to country where only the elite make the decisions.
    PS- england did not join the EU, The UK voted young and old to join.

  5. weird stuff I am reading here. Looking at this from the 3 perspectives.

    1. Personal (english ex pat living here). If you already live here with the permit, then you can continue to live here. Depending on what the british do with Portuguese living there you can expect to lose or keep the right to healthcare depending on future negotions which weigh much heavier for portugal in sheer number (500,000 portuguese in England, including 130,000 madeirans, as opposed to 1,000 british living in Madeira). You can also expect to have your state pension frozen.

    If you don’t live here, but want to, then clearly it will be much more difficult without free movement in Europe, and the UK is not even part of the Shengen zone. You might not feel quite so welcome here in the future here as you expect.

    2. Tourism. You can expect to pay more for your holiday in Madeira through the weaker pound alone, you can expect more complex beaurocracy for travel arrangments. You will probably have to arrange travel insurance as the reciprocal health care arrangments will change. You might not feel quite so welcome here as you expect, but as a tourist spending lots of money it will not be so noticable.

    3. Madeira. Will lose an unmeasurable number of british tourists, or will not. If the british still want holidays in the sun and are prepared to overlook the changes caused by Brexit, maybe they will still come to Madeira. This could be serious. We just don’t know.

    BUT!!!!!! This is the big one. If the british government decide to clean up immigration in the UK, potentially this small island with a population of around 250,000 could find itself filling up with any number of the 130,000 madeirans living in the UK. With unemploment here already at well over 20,000 (unoffical figures), the island will be swamped with reurnees without jobs and maybe even accomodation. This could cripple Madeira in terms of social problems, and we all know what happens then and normally there is no way back.

    And going back to categories 1 and 2 above, this is something to factor in. Will the portuguese people even continue to like the people of a democratic nation who voted in a way that will cause so much pain here? Madeira has a very insulalar mentality, but also pretty tolerant. But this pain is coming to every madeirans doorstep in one way or another. Be prepared for retaliation at governmental level and a personal level.

  6. K jones – I think your remarks about under 35’s and over 65’s are offensive and uncalled for. How can you make a statement saying over 65’s will be dead soon – you should retract remarks, for my part that kind of comment is unkind, unnecessary and offensive.

  7. It may be that the “over 65’s” voted many years ago for a Common Market and free trade and not what has since developed, a move to a federal Europe. In any case, this was a referendum and the voice of the people has been heard. If you do not like this, are you saying that you do not support democracy? We have to accept that this is the will of the people, whatever your own personal views.

  8. To K Jones

    Sir, I am amazed that you would make such a post.

    Your almost childish post remind of a screaming child that that as thrown his dummy out of his pram.

    One thing that is quite clear is Sir you are no democrat it would seem that you are a narrow minded bigot with fascist tendencies.

    The good people of Madeira and Portugal including the President have said that the people of Britain have spoken and that they accept the UK democratic decision.

    Sir, I am not sure that Madeira is the right place for you the good people of Madeira/Portugal share a long history with the people of the UK much longer than inception of the EU and long may it continue.

    You Sir give the British people a bad name.

  9. To K Jones

    Sir, I am amazed that you would make such a post.

    Your childish post remind of a screaming child that that as thrown his dummy out of his pram.

    One thing that is quite clear is Sir you are no democrat it would seem that you are a narrow minded bigot with fascist tendencies.

    The good people of Madeira and Portugal including the President have said that the people of Britain have spoken and that they accept the UK democratic decision.

    Sir, I am not sure that Madeira is the right place for you the good people of Madeira/Portugal share a long history with the people of the UK much longer than inception of the EU and long may it continue.

    You Sir give the British people a bad name.

  10. Some times you despair at the violently held opinions people hold- I am well over 65 and voted to remain even though I think the EU in its present format is doomed irrespective of Brexit. I voted to remain in the belief that within the EU we might pick up the pieces after collapse better from inside rather from out.
    I am not too sure how the figures were judged but in my limited experience many younger voters either could not have cared less even thinking it ‘uncool’ to vote at all.
    I accept without spite or hatred that a majority have voted differently to me and as a democrat I accept that vote.

    Separately – The Daily Mail in its week day edition encouraged ‘Leave’ and on Saturday produced a triumphal edition with page after page lauding the result whilst the Sunday edition which had encouraged ‘Remain’ had page after page of doom and despair. No wonder some people were confused!!

    Finally notwithstanding comments by others here I am sure that the Madeiranese are mature and civilised sufficiently enough not to feel or express hatred or displeasure of Brits who have made a decision they may not approve of.

  11. I would echo the comment above re: Portuguese/ Madeiran reaction to Brits post Brexit.

    The comments by Pedro Marques and Antonio Costa in the article above are the reasonable response one would expect from the Portuguese.
    The Portuguese people are sceptical about authority at the best of times, cheerfully anarchic in my experience.

  12. On another subject, fourteen years ago I bought a piece of land with two old stone buildings on it. My lovely Portuguese builder renovated one, on time and on budget to a very high standard.
    This year we have renovated the second, same builder , same high standard , on time and on budget . He is based in Ribeira Brava and particularly likes working on old stone houses so if anyone needs a reliable builder I would be happy for Admin to give you my email address.

  13. Well, I am gobsmacked to say the least. What rude, offensive, comments about older people. Just to set you straight K. Jones it was not all old people who voted to leave – my nieces, nephews, daughter and son-in-law,grandchildren et al all voted out and only one of them is over 50! indeed 1 million people in Scotland also voted to leave which you seem to have forgotten about. Nicola Sturgeon is simply on a mission to be in the history books as the person who broke the Union and unfortunately there are no political parties big enough to vote her out of office so she wanted the remain vote to win so that she could get another crack at Scottish independence. The Tories are toxic in Scotland and Labour have simply evaporated. The majority of Scottish people I know don’t want to have to follow along behind her but hey ho – what can you do we are a DEMOCRATIC country – if she gets the votes we might not like it but we don’t all throw our toys out the pram.
    Anyway, back to the subject – isn’t it just dreadful when all these sad folk in London don’t get their way – my goodness – maybe now they will realise that there is more to the UK than London. Not a thought about all the working class people in other cities in England whose lives have been ruined because of the EU immigration policy. I was just reading today a tiny village in Kent is having an immigration centre built to house 200 economic migrants – all young men between 18-20-odd. The village has a church and one shop and the 200 migrants will outnumber the residents. How crazy is that and how would you feel if that was your village? You won’t think about it though will you – in your little world its all about ME, ME, ME!
    This leave vote is the best thing that has happened to the UK in my lifetime, and by the way the petition you signed is a fraud! It seems to have been hacked somehow and multiple signatures have been added so that is why the voting is so high. People from all over the world have been signing it. One English guy asked his friend in America to try to sign it and it accepted his vote so I don’t think we can take that petition as being valid.
    To be honest what I think the worst thing about the UK today is the fact that all those P.C. left thinking teachers in schools and universities have never taught children that they are actually British and should be proud to be British. I note you can’t wait to leave the UK – methinks that just proves my point!
    Just to finish – since you live in the P.C. capital of the UK and you have a daughter who is a barrister – I thought you would have known that people are not supposed to be ageist these days!
    DEMOCRACY at last!!

  14. When it comes down to it, just about everybody in the Uk is an immigrant of some sort. The Greco/Romans started the ball rolling LM since then we have had Saxons & Angles, Norsemen and Normans (and probably a few others). So none of us is whiter-than-white.

    The decision has been made and the liars from both camps have gone quiet. Now we have to live with the result. So please everybody, put any nasty thoughts where they belong i.e. in the bin and not here.

    This is meant to be a blog about Madeira.

    Thank you all.

  15. Admin – can you tell me how to unsuscribe please. I am now appalled at some of the comments and want nothing to do with them.

    I love Madeira and want to live there and it is Madeira I am interested in not the hate campaign people.

    Regretfully, of course.

    Best wishes to all the lovely people on this blog.

    • Disappointing to say the least, the vikings seem to have got the upper hand. You could always root for the Bacalhau munchers my good sir 🙂

  16. Oh dear. I wonder whether, like some other forums, political comments could be banned here, please, and if they creep in, immediately deleted by Admin? I’m sure we could return to what I once thought was a civilised, friendly site …

    • @Ann

      A strong proponent of censorship I see, good for you….on second thoughts maybe not.

      Have you seen Portuguese people talking about things in general? They look like they are shouting about god knows what when in fact they are just talking about how the bica was not pulled properly 🙂

      Admin will guide the conversation…


      Do not trust the main stream media scaremongering as their time is up and the public has lost all faith in their lies.

      Madeirans have always been tough and a bit naughty mainly due to their environment and DNA.

      I actually had to explain to my mum why my sibling loved drinking and fighting on a regular basis, DNA…

      We all have to learn to control ourselves and adjust to our our environment but essentially we are part and parcel of this great experiment called the Human race.

      I myself had to have a go at at an acquaintance from my wife’s region of Viseu who wanted iceland to win against England no less!

      He soon realised the error of his ways and I explained to him that he should not bite the hand that feeds him and that he should be ashamed.

      I watched bagpuss as a kid but still do not have a British passport, what actually makes you British? Is it the realisation that you are a freeman on the land?

      Be positive in your outlook 🙂

  17. at 12h41 today on the Diário online appeared an article on racist attacks on Portugues immigrants living in the UK. “Portugueses entre estrangeiros vítimas de ataques racistas após referendo”. It’s not just portuguese citizens, but clearly the article focuses on those close to home. There are several cases cited. One person said that some portugueses residents in the UK were thinking about abandoning the UK through fear of what more might happen.

    As already stated by one contributor above, retaliation is a real possibility, even more so if the situation is maintained or escalates in the UK. Madeirans are not all angels, which seems to be the opinion of various outsiders here looking in. Ignore if you wish, but if you can at least read the article in the Diário of today for yourselves, if you can.

    I have also already seen an incident in Funchal, but I will spare you the details as the rose colored spectacles seem to be obscuring the reality for some people.

  18. Could not agree with you more Maurice. My husband, John is wondering if he should start packing his suitcase now with all the hatred being muted as his father moved to Scotland from Southern Ireland and his maternal grandparents moved to Scotland from Lithuania. John is Scottish by birth but moved to England in 1970. As for me – Yorkshire, born bred and buttered – HOME RULE FOR YORKSHIRE!

    ALSO, can anyone tell me how it is known how a certain person or age group did vote when is is a SECRET BALLOT?

    Aged 68 and 69 years – we voted to REMAIN.

  19. Have looked on the news sites and no mention of anyone portuguese being harassed in the UK. Not saying it hasn’t happened just that it has not been reported and such incidents are usually high profile.

  20. If politics were not to be discussed then we would not have anything to comment on, politics is in everything we do, I have followed this blog for many years and it has always been political, it’s just that the politics we are discussing now may not be to your liking.
    its a shame that bigotry and racism has taken over the leave campaign because the immigrants in the UK have contributed so much to our society.

  21. I have never met with anything but friendly warm sentiments from Portuguese from Porto to Funchal and do not expect any change. The idiots who commit hate crimes are a tiny miniscule part of the UK population.

    The main reason for immigration to my mind is for people to better themselves through work. I don’t believe the motivation is for benefit receipts as I understand other parts of Europe are more generous. Perhaps a motivation for choosing the UK is that, for all our grumbling, when we meet individuals of whatever background we in the main treat them as just that individuals.
    Admittedly I live just 15 miles from London the world’s most cosmopolitan city but we may be the most settled multicultural advanced society in the world and I am proud to be a member of it

  22. I wonder why a Portuguese person living in UK is always referred to as an immigrant, but a Brit living in Portugal is an ‘ex pat’ ?
    Double standard for sure.

  23. I am sure Portuguese people who have a history and warm hearts for the British will go deeper then the Britex Our Bonding will always be there. We helped the Portuguses in their time of need. They never forgot us in the minds. Lets keep the Portuguse/British flag flying togther united You supported us, we support you. We may speak different tongs, It what in the hearts and friendships that count, a warm smile speaks many words.

  24. If you look up Anglo-Portuguese Alliance

    The Portuguese royal family at the time (including the later King John VI) took refuge in its then vice-royalty of Brazil, under escort by the British fleet.

  25. I guess Wendy the same applies in reverse – In Portugal an ex Brit resident will be an immigrant whilst a local living In England will be an expat.

    Only semantics though as long as we just respect each other and each others cultures

  26. What I posted earlier today about racism by some english towards portuguese (in the UK) is now all over the net in just a few hours. Even the most prominent businessman here has it on his facebook page, and some of the comments / responses are somewhat worrying.

    Even TVI, the portuguese national station, had a report about it tonight. It’s a small minority of thugs I know, but nobody else has pointed that out yet.

    Still nothing to worry about?

    • Mainstream media spin to try and sway public opinion, the lying media should be put in their place.

      You would find more violence on the south lambeth road on a Saturday Night. What TVi is spouting is complete tosh and should be treated as such.

      The people that control the EU want to instill as much public fear as possible in order to try and destabilize the economies of Europe.

      After article 50 is initiated we can then go after all the criminal bankers like Iceland and finally put paid to global debt slavery.

      Vote leave was the first battle in a war that will free the world.

  27. The video TVI showed was clearly true, and was appalling and even though the victim was not portuguese it was filmed in Manchester UK. The article pubished online by the Diário yesterday about racism in the UK towards the portuguese, I doubt it was a lie, but whether it was or not, it is very damaging. The FB group Ocorrências na Madeira, that has over 43.000 madeiran followers has the article higlighted and aleady has 250 responses / comments, some not very pleasant.

  28. “What is interesting about people in good Society is the mask that each one of them wears, not the reality that lies behind the mask.”

    Oscar Wilde – The Decay of Lying

    • May I also add my respects to all that lost their lives.

      Mr Reed,

      I was watching Prime ministers question time in the commons, from what Cameron said I can see that the choice has definitely been made to leave.

      1. The operation of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty

      The UK currently has no written constitution but it does have sovereign rights under common law. An act of parliament is ratified according to the will of the people which in this case is to cease its membership of the European Union.

      Acts of parliament are not Laws, they are an agreement by the People of Britain that the act would be beneficial to society and as such agree to abide by said act. Any act of parliament can be repealed should the People of Britain no longer require or accept it.

      Legal and Lawful are two completely different things.

      2. Scottish “block”

      The SNP during PQT were constantly attacking Cameron and repeating that the scottish people voted to stay in Europe. Cameron brought their attention to the fact that if Scotland had decided to leave the UK and become independent beforehand, it would automatically have had to apply to become a member of the European Union.

      The prime minister of Spain has already made his position on accepting Scotland into the EU quite clear. Scotland voted to remain part of the UK and as such IS part of the UK.

      3. A second national referendum

      I have listened to several select committee meetings, there will be no second referendum.

      The mayor of London has come out and stated that London should stay in the EU, what is this guy smoking? I have never heard so much idiocy in my life 🙂

      Keep Calm and Carry On , today we should remember the loss of life caused by Germany’s ruling elite during the 1st world war.

      Regards to all.

  29. Today’s remembrance of the battle of the Somme puts things in perspective. My heart goes out to all the young soldiers who died in the war to end all wars. RIP.

  30. I am aged 70 and my wife and I have holidayed in Madeira for the past 8 years. I remember well what it was like before we joined the EU and why we joined – it was for a free trade zone and has since tried to develop in to a EU ‘super state’ dominated by Germany. Look at the austerity being suffered by those Southern European states such as Greece and Portugal where youth unemployment is at an all time high with benefits being cut affecting the worst off in society. It was factors such as this that made me and many others across the age divide to vote for ‘brexit’. I do hope that those who are suffering will too see the light and realise that the great EU experiment has failed them and join the UK in exiting the EU.

  31. Victor, the ferry is in Porto Santo today you can just about see it on the web-cam.

    As for the cargo plane……………………………………………….. don’t hold your breath.

  32. The ferry, as I understood this fairytale, madeira had seven interested parties that wanted to quote on the Lisbon/madeira ferry contract.
    It slowly dwindled to two then one…………. Then seemed to disappear to zero.
    Could it be that the ferry contract would frighten too many traders on the islands? Polititions being politicians, of course don’t want to rock this boat.
    But the result would be much cheaper goods in Madeira, more choice,
    A lot more sales would result, I’m sure that when the major shopping malls
    opened, sales on the islands original shops dropped temporarily.
    As a retired retailer myself, I know competition can frighten existing shops
    But think how many more Portuguese and other European shoppers will
    Arrive each week. It would certainly be a big boost to the local economy.
    The extra jobs for young Madeirans would be a godsend.
    A lot of residents of Madeira would I’m sure enjoy a mini cruise to the mainland, including me………….. Or would it frighten the Porto santo group ?…………

    • Alex,

      You need to raise the issue with the European Union directly and go over the local elected officials.

      Is there a petition in place?
      Are people aware of the negative situation being caused to people’s lives due to the lack of a Ferry service?

      Filming in Madeira along with many events that require heavy equipment would substantially boost Madeira’s economy and would provide a realistic alternative to normal tourism.

      There exists a monopoly of family interests in Madeira which must be destroyed at all costs. You have to create a public movement that can embarrass the “elected officials” into action.

      A good first step would be to get hold of official gdp figures for the island when the ferry was operating and compare them to previous and current numbers.

      Was there an improvement in GDP?


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