Open Letter from British Ambassador Kirsty Hayes to British nationals resident in Portugal

Since the Referendum, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of you across the country, from the Algarve to Porto, Funchal to Caldas da Rainha. I understand your concerns for the future including your residency status in Portugal, your UK pensions, access to health and other social services, and how you can acquire dual nationality. At our meetings, on our social media and in interviews, I have pledged to keep you up to date as negotiations on our exit from the European Union continue.

On Monday, June 26, the Prime Minister outlined to Parliament an offer to protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK. It is her firm expectation the EU will offer reciprocal treatment for British nationals resident in its Member States. Our firm priority is to secure a deal that puts people first, provides certainty and assures peace of mind.

Many of you will have seen the press reports. I hope you will also read the detailed proposals set out in “Safeguarding the position of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU” ( and sign-up for email alerts to receive updates.

The first key element is residence status. Until the UK’s Exit, EU citizens in the UK will continue to enjoy all the rights they have under EU law. As I have said before, the same will apply to you, British residents in Portugal.

The second key element is healthcare, pensions, education and access to benefits. It is the UK’s intention to treat EU citizens with settled status in the same way as if they were UK citizens for the purposes of education, benefits and pensions. For you, the UK will continue to export and uprate the UK State Pension and provide associated healthcare cover within the EU. We will also continue to protect the export of other benefits, and associated healthcare cover.

Subject to negotiations, we want to continue participating in the European Health Insurance Card scheme meaning EHIC holders continue to benefit from free, or reduced-cost, needs-arising healthcare while on a temporary stay in the EU — and vice versa for EU EHIC holders visiting the UK.

Some of you have children who wish to study in the UK. The offer announced on Monday, June 26 states qualifying EU citizens who arrived in the UK before the specified date will continue to be eligible for Higher Education and Further Education student loans and ‘home fee’ status. And we intend to continue to recognise professional qualifications obtained in the EU27 prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and vice versa.

We now await the EU’s formal response to our proposals. There will be a period of negotiation before we reach a final agreement.

I will continue to engage with you, including during town hall meetings in the autumn. In the meantime, please follow me on Twitter (@KirstyHayesFCO) and access the Embassy’s social media (@UKinPortugal on Twitter; British Embassy Lisbon and Brits in Portugal on Facebook).

Kirsty Hayes, British Ambassador to Portugal