Expat Essentials

Brexit briefing for British expats in the Netherlands: Good info along with sadness, frustration and no-deal anxiety

Brexit has become the soap opera of Europe, with memes and jokes ricocheting around the Internet. But for some Brits – like me– who live in Europe, it’s less amusing and more alarming. Yesterday evening, I attended a Brexit Briefing at The Hub Eindhoven expat center with representatives from the British Embassy and the Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service, the IND.

In the room were about 50 British expats, ages varying from student to retirees, all concerned that an act in which many were denied a vote –British voters lose their vote if they have lived outside the United Kingdom for more than 15 years – was about to change their lives.

The concerns were diverse: from Dutch citizenship, pensions and healthcare to being able to continue living in the Netherlands.

Of course, given the uncertainty surrounding Brexit even at this late date, the panel was only able to answer the concerns in a broader sense:

If a No-Deal exit occurs, then this happens and if a deal is ultimately struck, then this will happen.

But they did give a brief overview of basic issues in the case of deal or no deal scenarios, which both the UK government and Dutch government are preparing for. If there is a deal, which will include certain rights, expats’ lives will remain unchanged until the end of the “Implementation” period in December 2020. The prospect of a No Deal exit is where the concerns lie, as provisions will be different.


Check the validity of your passport using this website.

Ensure that you have six months on your passport, as you need this to get into Schengen countries.

Carry your resident’s permit with your passport.

In the case of a no-deal, you will be able to stay in countries where you are not a resident for 90 days in every 180 days.


UK pet passports will not be valid after Brexit, so ensure you have a Dutch/EU passport for your pet.


Your UK license will not be recognized when driving in the EU after a No-Deal Brexit, so exchanging it now is recommended. The Dutch government has agreed to a grace period of 15 months after Brexit for you to change your UK license to a Dutch license.


If you are a Dutch resident, you already are required to have health insurance. If your health costs are paid by the UK, these will remain the same in the case of a deal.

In the case of a no-Deal, the “UK government has proposed maintaining current healthcare cooperation with the Netherlands for S1 form-holders until the end of December 2020. If there’s no deal and there is no arrangement with the Netherlands to continue reciprocal healthcare, UK nationals receiving healthcare through the S1 form will not be covered.”


With a deal, your rights will not change until after the “Implementation”
period. In the case of a No-Deal, you must provide your employer with a copy of your residency permit and passport. Within 15 months, you will be asked by the Dutch government to apply for a new permit.


The UK will continue to pay pensions, and they will be “uprated” until 2022, after which time it depends on reciprocal arrangements.


If you are scared of the fallout from Brexit and just want to run home, then this website has helpful details.



The IND has a very helpful website including informational videos.

They also recommend you register on this website. That way you will be constantly updated by IND.

The information is valuable but for others and me, it didn’t really allay the fears and concerns that we all have. This is still an “unknown. “Will there be a deal or will we crash out as the PM keeps threatening, and if so, what should we, British nationals living in the Netherlands, expect?”

As my husband remarked, “At least we live in the Netherlands who seem to be working for us. In other EU countries it’s a different story.”

Sitting in the Hub last night, surrounded by other Brits, the anxiety, confusion and sadness were palpable. As people left, they wished each other good luck in the coming weeks/months.

As I left I felt a profound sadness and shed a few tears. I did not get a vote in the referendum, which ironically has the potential to change my life drastically, and will not get a vote if there is another election. I feel ill-used by 52 percent of my fellow countrymen and my government….mine is a small voice joining with others all shouting “Nooooooo,” into the void.

For more information, see the official UK guidance for citizens in the Netherlands.


About the author:

Jackie Harding was born in the United Kingdom. As a longtime expat, she’s lived in Boston for 12 years and in the Netherlands for the past nine years.

Trained as a nurse in the U.K., she worked for nine years in the United States as a special education teacher’s assistant. Since moving to the Netherlands, she has discovered writing and photography.

Writing for Dispatches since 2016, Jackie has written about her travels around Europe as well as about expat life and issues.

She also covered the Women’s March Amsterdam.

She’s married to British businessman Martin Harding and is the mother of two international adult children.

You can read more of Jackie’s work for Dispatches here

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