Home » Expat Focus International News Update August 2022

Expat Focus International News Update August 2022

Brits in Portugal ‘in limbo’

At the beginning of this month, the UK press gave extensive coverage to the plight of British citizens in Portugal, effectively left in limbo as an ongoing consequence of Brexit. The Portuguese authorities have not yet issued residency cards to many Brits in the country, leaving them unable to travel outside Portugal, access healthcare, or change jobs.

It’s estimated that around 35,000 Brits are affected, with some being detained at airports or having to pay for urgent medical treatment for conditions such as broken bones. Those who are cross-border workers – for example, airline pilots – are finding their jobs are at risk. Instead of the promised biometric card, they have been issued with a temporary card and a QR code which, they report, is not recognised at borders. A number have told the press that they feel like ‘illegal immigrants.’ One British-South African couple related to the Guardian how they had been detained at Frankfurt airport and actually charged with a criminal breach of immigration law because they didn’t have documents that the EU recognised. They were obliged to buy new tickets via London as they were told that they risked arrest if they returned via Germany.

Leader of the British in Portugal campaign group, Tig James, blames the Portuguese border force and told the Guardian:

“SEF is wilfully, deliberately and systemically not adhering to the withdrawal agreement, resulting in the physical, emotional and financial suffering of thousands of UK nationals living in Portugal.”

The UK government says that they are engaged at a ministerial level and are urging the Portuguese authorities to produce the biometric cards as a matter of urgency.

“Portugal must immediately and fully implement the withdrawal agreement commitments it signed up to in 2018 so UK nationals have the security they need.”

SEF have issued a statement, which says:

“The current residence documents of British nationals living in Portugal continue to be accepted, even after the end of the transition period (31 December 2020), and until the new residence card is issued.

The exchange of the current residence document (either an EU registration certificate issued by the town hall, or an EU permanent residence certificate issued by SEF) was carried out through the Brexit portal (brexit.sef.pt), which allowed British nationals to apply online to exchange the document.

Until then, the certificate with the QR code, that can be downloaded from the portal, continues to be an official residency document for those under the withdrawal agreement. It is valid until the new card is issued. Furthermore, valid EU residency documents continue to be accepted for travel purposes, until the new card is issued.”

However, since this has clearly not been the case, the UK is continuing to urge the Portuguese authorities to sort out this difficult situation.


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Rethinking a move to Luxembourg?

The recent InterNations Expat Insider survey revealed the little European nation to be the most expensive country in Europe for expats, with a quarter of Luxembourg’s overseas nationals saying that the cost of living is ‘out of reach.’ Respondents gave it the lowest possible rating for affordability, and 30% said that they do not now earn enough to live a comfortable life. A survey conducted by the EU commission says that the cost of living and the cost of accommodation are primary concerns. Britain came second in the survey, and Ireland came third.

Spain’s driving licence saga rolls on

The saga of when Brits resident in Spain will be able to exchange their driving licences for a Spanish one continues to rumble on, but there might be a glimmer of light at the end of this particular tunnel. A deal was supposed to have been struck at the end of July, but at the time of writing we are well into August, and nothing has happened. However, the authorities are now talking about September, which if it comes to pass will be a substantial relief to those Brits who were unable to exchange their driving licences in time and who are now at risk of driving illegally.

Minister Karl McCartney, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport, has issued a statement which says:

“The UK Government has engaged in these negotiations in good faith and ensured that Spanish drivers in the UK have, as always, encountered no limitations nor inconvenience in their ability to drive.

We have similar arrangements in place with 24 other EU Member States already, but negotiations with Spain have been made more complicated on account of Spain requiring additional elements which no one else has asked for in relation to driving licence exchange arrangements. Nonetheless, we are working hard to finalise negotiations with the Spanish Government.”

However, Mr McCartney has not given any indication as to when a settlement will be reached, so those affected by this concerning situation may well feel that the statement is no more than a placeholder.

The European Talent Intelligence Manual 2022

Rotterdam’s market research firm Intelligence Group has recently compiled the European Talent Intelligence Manual for 2022, canvassing over 100,000 Europeans to assess the most popular cities in Europe for professionals. It includes some 600 cities, with London coming in at the top spot. For working environments, the English capital led a top ten list of cities, consisting of:

  • London
  • New York
  • Paris
  • Berlin
  • Barcelona
  • Madrid
  • Sydney
  • Rome
  • Amsterdam
  • Vienna

The Manual covers a wide variety of factors, from recruitment among the over 50s, to the prevalence of using window advertisements to advertise jobs. It looks at commutes and the issue of flexible working hours – something which students say is a priority when it comes to finding work once they graduate.

Spain’s migration numbers at their highest

Expats are still moving to Spain, but at the same time, more Spanish people are choosing to emigrate. Over 750,000 people are coming into Spain, while around 300,000 Spaniards are leaving. Numbers peaked around 2013, when roughly 450,000 people left the country, but they are rising once more.


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In this short video, we dive into the significant health care updates and changes happening globally in 2024. From Germany's insurance cost adjustments to Cyprus's renewed COVID-19 precautions, we cover the essential news you need to know.

Germany's Health Insurance Update:

Starting in 2024, residents in Germany will see a slight increase in their health insurance costs, with a 0.1% rise to a maximum of 1.7%. This adjustment aims to expand coverage for medical care not currently included in statutory health insurance, such as select dental treatments, IVF, and early cancer screenings.

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With over 3000 new COVID-19 cases, Cyprus is stepping up its game by reintroducing health measures. Requirements now include proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry into various facilities, emphasizing the importance of vaccination, especially for the elderly, to combat the evolving virus strains.

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Trieste launches an initiative for free health screenings, including echocardiograms and blood tests, focusing on preventive care against non-communicable diseases. This move underscores the city's commitment to improving public health through early detection and prevention.

Spain's New Health Advice App:

Madrid introduces a groundbreaking app offering reliable health advice to counteract the widespread misinformation online. This app, part of the 'Madrid Te Cuida' initiative, will guide users to accurate information, from diet tips to medical queries, ensuring the advice is vetted by health professionals.

Expat Satisfaction with Healthcare in Mexico:

A study reveals that expat retirees in Mexico are largely content with the healthcare quality and costs, with many citing significant savings compared to the United States without compromising on care quality. This insight sheds light on the growing trend of healthcare tourism and relocation for medical reasons.

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YouTube Video UCB21b-C4O2aXm7H18_GsXMQ_nC_Fs6gU22U

Expat Focus International Healthcare Update January 2024

Expat Focus 31 January 2024 10:36 am

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