Brexit

Content

1. General: current state of affairs
1.1. Social security
1.1.1. General
1.1.2. Deal
1.1.3. No deal

2. Citizens with Belgian rights in the UK
2.1. General
2.2. Deal
2.3. No deal

3. Companies
3.1. General
3.2. Deal
3.3. No deal


1. General: current state of affairs

1.1. Social security

1.1.1. General

The social security of persons moving within the European Union is currently regulated by specific European regulations that protect the social security rights of EU citizens:

  • EU citizens are always subject to the legislation of one country and therefore only pay social security contributions in one country
  • EU citizens have the same rights and obligations as nationals of the country in which they are insured
  • for benefits, account is taken of previous periods of insurance, employment or residence in other countries (aggregation of periods).
  • If one is entitled to a benefit from one country, one usually receives this also if one is living in another country (exportability).

These principles and rules also apply to UK citizens working or living in Belgium and will remain so until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, i.e. until 31 October 2019. How the social security scheme will subsequently operate will depend on whether or not an agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom is concluded.

1.1.2. Deal: situation if an agreement is concluded

The text of the Withdrawal Agreement as negotiated between the European Union and the United Kingdom provides for two periods:

  • period from 1 November 2019 to 31 December 2020: transition period during which the United Kingdom ceases to be a member of the European Union and the European social security rules remain fully applicable. During this period there are no changes in the social security situations of British citizens in Belgium.
  • period from 1 January 2021: European rules no longer apply but a number of social security rights will continue to be guaranteed for British and EU citizens who have exercised the right to free movement of persons before 31 December 2020. For the other situations an arrangement will be worked out.

1.1.3. No Deal: Situation if no agreement is concluded

In the event of a no deal, the social security rights of British citizens residing in Belgium will continue to be protected as from 30 March 2019. To this end, the federal government has taken a legislative initiative to ensure that, until 31 December 2020, the social security situation of British citizens living in Belgium remains unchanged, on the basis of reciprocity between Belgium and the United Kingdom. This law will apply to all social security branches falling under federal competence (pensions, unemployment, health care, disability and invalidity benefits, benefits in case of accidents at work and occupational diseases).

If you are only temporarily staying in Belgium after 31 October 2019 (e.g. for a holiday or family visit) or are seconded to Belgium, you remain subject to British law. In this case, you must contact the competent British authorities.

2. Citizens with Belgian rights in the UK

2.1. General

The social security of persons moving within the European Union is currently regulated by specific European regulations that protect the social security rights of EU citizens:

  • they are always subject to the legislation of one country and therefore only pay social security contributions in one country
  • they have the same rights and obligations as nationals of the country in which they are insured
  • for benefits, account is taken of previous periods of insurance, employment or residence in other countries (aggregation of periods)
  • If one is entitled to a benefit from one country, one usually receives this also if one lives in another country (exportability).

These principles and rules also apply to Belgians working or living in the UK and will remain so until the UK leaves the European Union, i.e. until 31 October 2019. How the social security scheme will subsequently operate will depend on whether or not there is an agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

2.2. Deal: situation if an agreement is concluded

The text of the Withdrawal Agreement as negotiated between the European Union and the United Kingdom provides for 2 periods:

  • period from 1 November 2019 to 31 December 2020: transition period during which the United Kingdom ceases to be a member of the European Union and the European social security rules remain fully applicable. There are therefore no changes to the social security situations of Belgian citizens in the United Kingdom.
  • period from 1 January 2021: European rules no longer apply but a number of social security rights will continue to be guaranteed for British and EU citizens who have exercised the right to free movement of persons before 31 December 2020. For the other situations an arrangement will be worked out.

2.3. No Deal: situation if no agreement is concluded

You are living or temporarily residing in the United Kingdom:

  • before 31 October 2019: your rights acquired before 31 October 2019 are guaranteed in the United Kingdom.
  • since 31 October 2019: you will be subject to United Kingdom law. In that case, you should contact the competent British authorities.

BUT

  • your social security rights are further protected. To this end, the federal government has taken a legislative initiative to ensure that until 31 December 2020 the social security situation of Belgian citizens in the United Kingdom remains unchanged, on the basis of reciprocity between Belgium and the United Kingdom. This law will apply to all social security branches falling under federal competence (pensions, unemployment, health care, disability and invalidity benefits, benefits in case of accidents at work and occupational diseases).

Some examples:

  • You are retired and you receive a Belgian pension: this pension will continue to be paid in the United Kingdom after 31 October 2019.
  • You will receive an invalidity benefit from Belgium: this benefit will continue to be paid on the basis of the Belgian legislative initiative.
  • You will be going on holiday to the United Kingdom after 31 October 2019: the medical expenses incurred during your stay on British territory in the event of hospitalisation are eligible for reimbursement by your Belgian health insurance fund. 

The legislative initiative taken by the federal government allows you to continue to use your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for reimbursement in the United Kingdom until 31 December 2020, on the basis of reciprocity between Belgium and the United Kingdom.

3. Companies

3.1. General

The social security of persons moving within the European Union is currently regulated by specific European regulations that protect the social security rights of EU citizens, which means, among other things, that they are always subject to the legislation of one country and are therefore only subject to social security contributions in one country. These principles and rules also apply to Belgians working or living in the UK and will remain so until the UK leaves the European Union, i.e. until 31 October 2019. How the social security, secondment and contribution rules will subsequently be applied will depend on whether or not an agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom is concluded.

3.2. Deal: situation if an agreement is concluded

The text of the Withdrawal Agreement as negotiated between the European Union and the United Kingdom provides for 2 periods:

  • period from 31 October 2019 to 31 December 2020: transition period during which the United Kingdom ceases to be a member of the European Union and the European rules on social security remain fully applicable. There are therefore no changes for the social security situations of Belgian citizens in the United Kingdom or vice versa.
  • period from 1 January 2021: European legislation no longer applies but a number of social security rights (including secondment) remain guaranteed for British and European citizens who have made use of the free movement of persons before 31 December 2020. A regulation will have to be worked out for new secondments.

3.3. No Deal: situation if no agreement is concluded

Even in the event of a no deal, the social security rights of British citizens in Belgium and Belgian citizens in the United Kingdom will continue to be guaranteed. To this end, the federal government has taken a legislative initiative that leaves the existing social security situations unchanged until 31 December 2020, on the basis of reciprocity between Belgium and the United Kingdom.

Two situations are possible:

1. Posting of an employee or self-employed person from the United Kingdom to Belgium: the posted employee remains exclusively subject to British legislation. In that case, you should contact the competent British authorities. Belgium will recognise the certificates of posting and will not subject the posted worker to double contribution. The posted self-employed person remains exclusively subject to British law. In that case, you should contact the competent British authorities. Belgium will recognise the certificates of posting and will not subject the posted self-employed person to double contribution.

2. Posting of an employee or self-employed person from Belgium to the United Kingdom: the posted employee remains exclusively subject to Belgian legislation. The existing rules on posting and contribution payments will continue to apply. The seconded self-employed person  remains exclusively subject to Belgian legislation. The existing rules on posting and contribution payments will continue to apply.