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Published 11 March 2021
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Can I Work in Europe After Brexit? What To Know

Following the UK’s exit from the EU and the end of the transition period, you may be wondering if you can still work in Europe if you’re a UK citizen. The new rules mean that the answer depends on the country, but you’ll almost certainly need a work permit.

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Although most of us aren’t travelling much at the moment due to the coronavirus pandemic, when the world does start to open up again, European travel will feel quite different. That’s because, post-Brexit, the landscape has changed – and if you’re a UK citizen hoping to work in Europe, you no longer have the automatic right to live and work in the EU. But the possibility may still exist, albeit with a little extra planning and paperwork.

As you prepare, it’s worth bearing in mind that the country you want to work in may treat the right to work, enter, and live there as three separate permissions, requiring separate applications and documents. You can’t always assume a work permit also covers you to live in the country, although it may. A document may also be known by different names in different countries (e.g. ‘work visa’ and ‘work permit’), so if in doubt, check what yours covers.

Read on to find out what you need to consider before you can work in Europe.

I’m currently in the UK and want to work in the EU

If you’re a UK citizen living in the UK but want to move to the EU and work for an EU business, the first thing to do is check the entry requirements for the country you want to work in – the rules vary depending on location and the kind of work you want to do.

The government has produced a comprehensive guide to living in the EU containing information both for UK citizens already in an EU country, and those hoping to move to one – just select your desired country and click ‘Next’ to access the most up-to-date information. You can also follow the British Embassy in the country you want to work in on social media, for example, on Facebook or Twitter.

What you will need to consider

The steps you’ll need to take to be eligible to work in the EU will be different for each EU country, but it’s wise to take the following factors into consideration.

Work permits

As a UK citizen, you’ll now almost certainly need a work permit to work in an EU country. For example, Italy, France, and Austria all require their non-EU workers to have permits.

Job offers

You’re more likely to be able to work abroad if you have a binding job offer in the country you want to work in. But this isn’t always the case – for example, Germany allows qualified skilled workers to apply for a ‘job search visa’ to look for employment once they arrive, which is valid for up to six months – so check what the country you have in mind requires.

Professional qualifications

Post-Brexit, professional qualifications you hold may not now be recognised in the EU country you want to work in. The European Network of Information Centres (ENIC) provides information and country-specific guides to help you determine whether this will be the case for you.

EU Blue Cards

You might be eligible for an EU Blue Card, which allows you to live and work in 25 of the 27 EU countries for up to four years, if your profession puts you in the category of ‘highly-qualified worker’. There are a number of criteria you’ll need to meet to be considered a highly-qualified worker, including having a work contract of at least 12 months. The application process varies from country to country, so check the specific requirements for where you want to go. Some countries may ask you to pay a fee to apply.


Depending on whether you plan to be a temporary or permanent resident in the EU, you might still have to pay your UK income tax. Let HMRC know your plans by filling in form P85 – they’ll be able to advise whether this would apply to you.


Find out how you’d access healthcare services in the EU country you want to move to. For temporary stays, you may be fine with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or its replacement, the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) – but for anything longer term, this probably won’t be enough.

I want to work in Ireland

UK citizens hoping to work in the Republic of Ireland are in luck – the Common Travel Area (CTA) that exists between the UK and the Republic of Ireland allows freedom of movement, the right to live and work, and the right to access the same social welfare and health services as citizens. And it goes the other way – Irish citizens wanting to work in the UK also benefit from the same freedom of movement and access to services.

I’m already in the EU and want to keep working there

If you’re a UK citizen and you’ve been living and working in the EU for an EU business since before 1 January 2021, you’re covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and should be fine to carry on living and working there as before. But make sure to register as a resident of the country you’re in before the deadline of 30 June 2021.

If you’re a UK citizen working in the EU but for a UK employer, your employer will need to abide by certain employment rules of the country you’re working in. Make sure you don’t pay tax twice on the same salary – HMRC or your employer should be able to advise which country should receive your tax, and this may depend on how long you plan to be there for.

What about studying in the EU in 2021?

If you’re a student from the UK and you were already studying in the EU before 1 January 2021, you should be able to continue your course as normal, as well as access roughly the same financial support as your fellow students from that country. It’s a good idea to check in with your EU university though, as they’ll be able to give you the heads-up on anything that may be changing. As well, be sure to double-check the visa requirements for the place you’re in.

The same goes for Erasmus+ students already in the EU before 1 January 2021 – although again, it would be sensible to speak to your UK university to find out if anything has changed and if so, what next steps you’d need to take.

The Turing Scheme

The UK is no longer part of the Erasmus+ programme, but from September 2021, prospective students who want to study in the EU will be able to apply to the Turing Scheme, which replaces Erasmus+ and also offers UK students the chance to study abroad.

Next steps

Although the UK is no longer part of the EU, and UK citizens have lost their automatic right to live and work in an EU country, if you’re able to meet the entry requirements of your desired country, then a combination of research, planning, and paperwork could still lead to you working in Europe after Brexit. Just be sure to consult the relevant government guidance before you get going.

Image source: Getty Images

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