Brexit impact

General state of affairs

The social security of persons moving within the European Union is currently regulated by specific European legislation that protects the social security rights of EU citizens based on four basic principles:

  • You are always subject to the legislation of one country and therefore only pays social security contributions  in one country
  • You have the same rights and obligations as the nationals of the country in which you are insured.
  • for benefits, account is taken of previous periods of insurance, employment or residence in other countries (aggregation of periods)
  • If you are entitled to a benefit from one country, you will usually receive it even if you live in another country (exportability).

These principles and rules also apply to British people who work or live in Belgium. The way in which the social security scheme will subsequently operate will be determined in the agreement  concluded between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

BREXIT  took place on 31 January 2020. This means that the Withdrawal Agreement has been  approved by both parties (the UK and the EU) and that we are now in a transition period that will remain in force until 31 December 2020. 

Chronology Brexit

Link to infographic Timeline BREXIT

23/06/2016: The Brexit referendum takes place in the UK. The majority of voters (51.89%) chose the UK to leave the EU.

24/07/2019: A new Prime Minister: On this date, former Prime Minister Theresa May goes to Queen Elisabeth II to resign. Boris Johnson becomes the new UK Prime Minister.

12/12/2019: UK elections: As the UK Parliament did not approve the version of the Withdrawal agreement agreed by Boris Johnson with the EU, Boris Johnson asks for new elections. He hoped for a positive result in order to get his deal through the British Parliament.

01/02/2020: BREXIT: The UK is leaving the EU. The transition period then begins. During the transitional period, the UK remains subject to all EU rules. This applies both to EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in the EU.

01/01/2021: End of the transition period

What does the FPS Social Security do?

Belgium is one of the European states most exposed to the consequences of Brexit. In the absence of an agreement or accompanying measures, this would probably have many negative consequences for the social rights of many Belgian or British policyholders, who have hitherto been protected by European legislation.

The FPS Social Security coordinates and supports the preparations for Brexit for all public social security actors, so that they all have the necessary instruments at their disposal to limit the negative consequences of Brexit as much as possible.  The preparations for Brexit are highly variable, uncertain and complex.  In order to manage these circumstances as well as possible, the FPS has preferred a flexible approach, which promotes continuous consultation with all stakeholders. 

Statistics on Belgians in the UK 

As the FPS, we are an umbrella organization that ensures optimal cooperation between all autonomous partners of the Social Security.  The partners of Social Security are the Public Institutes of Social Security, each of which takes care of its own particular theme of Social Security. 

They too are individually affected by BREXIT.  Here below is a demonstration using these few figures.

National Social Security Office

The NSSO delivers A1 documents.  The A1 form is a document to be applied for in case of secondment or simultaneous employment in several Member States within the EEA. Here we make the difference between pure secondment (based on article 12 of Regulation 883/2004) and simultaneous employment on several territories (based on article 13 of Regulation 883/2004).

On the basis of art. 13, the NSSO delivered 8576 forms in 2018. Of these 8576, only 213 concerns only  a BE - UK relationship, indicating that the number involving a third member state is significantly higher. Based on art 12, the NSSO delivered 1937 A1 documents in 2018. The total number of people impacted, on the basis of art. 12 and 13, in 2018 is 10,513.

The figures from the NSSO only relate to employees who are subject to the Belgian social security system. Residents of Belgium who are subject to another social security system are not included in these figures. Residents of Belgium who work exclusively in the UK for an indefinite period of time and are subject to article 11.3.a in the UK are also not included in the above statistics. The actual number of people affected is therefore likely to be higher than the 2018 reference figure of 10,513.

Social Security for Self-employed Entrepreneurs

The NISSE also delivers A1 documents. In 2018, the NSSO issued 556 A1 documents for the UK. 176 on the basis of Article 12 and 380 on the basis of Article 13. For 2019 (until 07/12/2019) the NSSO issued 501 A1 forms, 242 on the basis of Article 12 and 239 on the basis of Article 13.

The National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance: benefits

The NIHDI's figures refer only to persons of Belgian nationality resident in the UK. 35 is the total number of Belgians in the UK who received a benefit in 2018. Of these, 22 are for invalidity, 9 for maternity leave  and finally 4 for birth/paternity leave.

The National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance: healthcare

On 30 June 2019 there were 484 Belgians living in the UK (394 holders and 90 dependent family members) needing health care. It is important to note that these are only people who live in the UK, we do not yet have any figures on tourists (tourists here are people who have lived in the UK for less than three months).

The Federal Pension Office

The FPO pays 4740 pensions in the UK. Among the beneficiaries are 3592 Brits, 737 Belgians and 411  other nationals.

Federal Agency for Occupational Risks

 There are 124 people in the UK (Belgians and other nationalities) with a benefit in respect of occupational diseases or accidents at work recognized by Belgium. There are 86 British people living in Belgium with a benefit in respect of occupational diseases or accidents at work recognized by Belgium.


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For more information on the consequences of Brexit: