After over three and a half years of talking, fighting, delays and fearmongering, Brexit is going to happen on 31st January.

This is a cause for celebration for some, but for others it represents the start of great uncertainty – or worse still – the start of decades of decline for the UK. This may come down to the deal that we agree, or if there is a deal at all.

Which way it goes will still be debated and argued over the years to come, but what will happen after 31st January when Brexit is confirmed?

The Brexit deal

Firstly, let’s take a look at the key points of the deal itself. Currently being examined by the House of Lords, the main issues involve travel, money, health, the rights of citizens and of course, trade. The policies set out in the deal will potentially affect currency which can then further impact such things as property prices.

The main focus of the deal is to leave the EU customs union, meaning that the UK will have the freedom to establish their own trade deals with countries around the world.

A significant sticking point was determining how Northern Ireland would be affected, with Boris Johnson eventually replacing the Irish backstop with a new agreement that will begin in December 2020, after the transition period has ended. In summary, this includes a customs declaration system for goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, as well as continued access to the UK market for businesses. Northern Ireland also have the option to vote on their continued membership in this deal four years after the transition period.

Travel

After January 31st, travel plans for UK citizens travelling to EU countries will not be affected.

ABTA, the travel industry’s trade association has said: "If Parliament ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement before 31 January 2020, which it is on track to do, the UK will enter a transition period, meaning everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel as you do now until at least the end of December 2020."

After the transition, a visa similar to the American ESTA will be introduced, expecting to cost around £6 and last for a number of years.

All transport entering the EU, including ferries and cruise ships will not be affected but there may be an additional driving permit if you wish to use your own vehicle within your UK insurance policy in the EU.

Money

Savings are not expected to be affected after Brexit due to all bank trading agreements bought from EU firms being protected by the transition period. There may a short-term gain for savers if interest rates are increased when the Conservative Budget is announced next month.

However, British retirees living abroad may have their pension payments frozen, not benefiting from the EU payment increase, which is based on either inflation, wage increases or 2.5% - whichever is highest. On top of that, those living in the EU and being paid in GBP may lose earnings if the pound falls after Brexit.Property

With house prices showing an increase from November to December last year, estate agents are optimistic that Brexit will finally end the uncertainty that had led to prices stagnating – and falling in some areas - in the UK.

Even with renewed confidence, the February Budget could affect the market, with the potential for reforms for first-time buyers. No-deal is still a slight possibility, so foreign investors will be keeping a close eye on negotiations before parting with their money.

Most estate agents say that surveys have shown that potential buyers generally have overestimated the impact of Brexit so far, and with the political climate much calmer, expect buyers who were holding back to come forward in 2020.

Rental prices are forecasted to rise, due mainly to the lack of rental options on the market.

Currency

The value of the pound can go either way, with a lot of experts claiming the volatility of the past 3 years will calm and the pound will be more stable. Since the start of negotiations, the strength of the pound has been linked to a clean break that protected business, whereas the chaos of a no-deal Brexit has sent the pound down in value. Since the general election result, the pound has rallied due to investors being more comfortable with the prospect of a strong majority Conservative government.

However, with a lot to be done by the end of the transition period – including crucial trade agreements with the EU itself – there could still be choppy waters ahead for GBP. In fact, just this week it was revealed that there are fundamental disagreements between the EU and UK that will almost certainly require more than eight months of negotiations, which formally begin in March.

Trade negotiations

The obvious reason for any difficulties in the negotiations is that the EU believe that the UK should continue to follow some of the EU regulations in order to secure a free-trade agreement. This is mainly due to EU members, including France, asking for a level playing field to be maintained. Trade-offs will likely come into play as the transition period progresses, with a report recently claiming that the UK will allow EU fleets to fish in their waters if bankers and financiers are allowed favourable access to the EU financial markets. The issue with such trade-offs is that invariably they will affect certain demographics unfavourably, which can lead to more stand-offs. With such a tight deadline any significant delays could be disastrous and can bring the no-deal prospect back into the reckoning.

If you require any guidance on your currency exchange during this crucial step of Brexit, reach out to Universal Partners FX; a specialist in delivering expert guidance and the best possible rates for those dealing with foreign currency.

For many British expats, buying property in Portugal remains a top priority despite the uncertainties of Brexit. From Lisbon to Porto, Chaves and Lagos, Portugal’s most popular locations continue to seduce British expats who emigrate in the country to enjoy the warm summers and uncrowded cities offering quality of life and delicious cuisine. Just think of Portugal’s iconic Fado music, Port wine, Algarve’s beaches and the delicious pastel de nata; Portugal’s charms can easily convince anyone to move there.

Whether you are looking for a villa or a beachside property, it’s important to be aware of the legal processes, costs, taxes and other fees involved in buying property in Portugal. Here’s some helpful tips to get you started.

The property market, residence and Brexit

The property market is now growing steadily and buying a property in a good location will count as a good investment.

In the last decade, around three-quarters of people own their own home in Portugal. As there are no restrictions on owning foreign property, EU citizens can buy their property easily. Around 50,000 Brits have been living in Portugal.

Especially if they can afford it, they can apply for a golden visa, which will allow them to live there for five years if they invest in a property worth a minimum of EUR 500,000000 (or EUR 350,000 for redevelopment in an urban renovation zone). After the period of five years, they will be able to apply for permanent residency. If you’re applying for a golden visa, you’ll need to reside in Portugal for at least seven days in the first year and 14 or more days in the following years.

In general, if you have been living in Portugal for five years you can apply for a permanent residence status, and after six years, for Portuguese citizenship as Portugal allows dual citizenship.

With Brexit, British citizens might lose some of the freedoms they enjoyed under the EU. While buying a holiday home and not moving in Portugal permanently won’t change after Brexit, there might be more bureaucratic processes, including applying for the visa waiver ETIAS scheme (European Travel Information and Authorization System). This is a completely new electronic system expected to be in place by 2021, which will keep track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. This means that you'll be limited to 90 days in any 180-day period within the Schengen area.

According to the Portuguese Prime Minister, Antonio Costa, the rights of British citizens who live or invest in Portugal will be protected. With the two countries’ close relationship and Portuguese economy depending on tourism and construction, British citizens’ rights might not be under threat.

Fiscal Number

To buy a property in Portugal, you’ll need to apply for a Personal Fiscal Number (Número de Identificação Fiscal (NIF), or Número de Contribuinte), a tax identification number issued to anyone conducting official business in Portugal. Whether investing in property, living or being involved in any form of business in Portugal, you will need to have a Portuguese fiscal number. For example, if you are buying a property with your partner and your names are both on the title deeds, then you will both need to have a Portuguese tax identification number. 

How much do properties cost in Portugal?

Location will naturally affect the property price, with Lisbon and the Algarve’s coastal areas being the most popular and expensive areas.  A villa in Lisbon and Algarve will cost you around €400,000 and €300,000 respectively, while a small apartment will be around €130,000 in either of these two locations. You have to consider that your expenses will increase depending on the property’s price. The more expensive your home, the more you will have to pay in property taxes, based on a property’s fiscal value. If you are looking for a bargain, heading towards the central region of Portugal, will offer you the advantage of lovely big homes at lower prices.  Compared to the Algarve, the Silver Coast is also a beautiful and cheaper alternative.

Universal Partners FX

If you have found your dream home in Portugal and you want to transfer your deposit from abroad, then you need expert help from a currency specialist firm such as Universal Partners FX. UPFX can help you make all your international money transfers safely and fast. Get in touch with their dedicated currency dealers to get access to bank-beating exchange rates and find out how much they can save you on your international currency transfers.

Brexit: Buying Property Abroad as Pound Tumbles

Buying property abroad has become more complex the last few years as Brexit uncertainty and the pound’s volatility continue to negatively impact the UK economy, with fears of a recession increasing.

Brexit update

On Tuesday (3/9), the pound experienced increased volatility, reaching its lowest level  in 34 years, from which it rebounded, as rebel Tory and opposition MPs attempted to block a no-deal Brexit. The prime minister Boris Jonson was eventually defeated. According to the so-called Benn bill, if he is unable to reach an agreement with Brussels in the next few weeks, he will have to delay Britain’s departure from the European Union until 31 January.

Sterling dropped due to fears of a snap general election, reaching its lowest level in more than three decades, with the exception of the October 2016 “flash crash." Ahead of the vote, and after Tory MP Philip Lee’s defection to the Liberal Democrats, it rose slightly.

“For all the uncertainty that lies ahead, markets see a Boris Johnson led no-deal Brexit as the worst-case scenario and thus treat anything that undermines that as pound positive,” said analyst at IG Joshua Mahony.

According to the Independent, a Bloomberg survey last month, showed that a delay was seen as the most positive outcome for the pound. Sterling has tumbled significantly since the EU referendum in June 2016.

Boris Johnson’s defeat by a margin of 328 to 301 on Tuesday, has put the prime minister in a precarious position, and has wounded his rhetoric of no-deal. As a result of his defeat, the prime minister said he would table a bill to trigger a general election, but Labour said it would not back his election motion, which requires a two-thirds majority to pass through the Commons.

On Thursday, the House of Lords voted in favour of getting the Benn bill, that will rule out a no-deal Brexit, through all the stages of parliament by Friday afternoon.

Buying your dream abroad

For many, the decision to buy a home abroad is not significantly affected by Brexit. They have prepared and have done their research and are confident that their decision is final. For them, consulting a leading expert in transferring money abroad has also given them peace of mind. Foreign exchange specialists such as Universal Partners FX have years of experience in international money transfers and can navigate volatile currency markets, saving you money and time. So, considering the current volatility and the weakness of the pound, getting help from UPFX will help you significantly when you make large international transfers to buy property abroad or pay related costs.

Residency rights

Due to the fact that many Brits are already living in countries such as France and Spain, and with more EU countries guaranteeing British expats post-Brexit grace periods, British expats are slightly less worried about Brexit, especially the ones already living there. As many European countries have pledged to offer legal residency rights to British expats in return for the same rights for European nationals residing in the UK, it is hard to see that certain freedoms will completely eclipsed after Brexit. For example, the Italian government has announced that British expats will remain legal residents in the event of no deal, while the Spanish authorities are saying British expats will have the same rights in Spain post-Brexit as long as Spaniards already living in the UK are offered the same residency rights.

France has also made sure to clarify its position on residency by passing a bill in the case of a no-deal Brexit, followed by a government decree. Like other European countries, France will apply these rights as long as the UK does the same for French nationals living in the UK. After Brexit, for example, Britons in France will have six months to apply for a residence card. During the one-year transitional period Brits will continue to have existing rights over residence, work and benefits, while they can enjoy access to healthcare for two years after Brexit. Remain in France and the UK government website provide more details.

So, if you are buying a home in a European country, you need to consider all the complexities of life abroad after Brexit. More importantly, as the pound continues to fluctuate, getting expert help from a foreign exchange specialist such as UPFX, will prove to be extremely beneficial especially when you are transferring your hard-earned money. Get in touch with them today for a quick quote and find out how much you can save on your international currency transfers.

Buying property in France or Spain has recently been complicated due to Brexit. For many Brits already living there, there are still many questions, a lot of them related to health and access to medicine. The possibility of a no-deal Brexit overcomplicates things too. Let’s see what a no-deal Brexit involves and what it means in terms of health for the many Brits who already live or want to move there.

What is a no-deal Brexit?

No deal means that the UK would leave the European Union (EU) without any agreement about the status of their future relationship. In a matter of fact, it would immediately be left out of the single market and customs union, and consequently lose its privileges of trading between EU members without complex checks and tariffs (on imports). But this will also have a massive impact on other facets of our lives steeped in European institutions and regulations. We will leave the European Court of Justice and Europol, its law enforcement body, and lose our membership of many other EU bodies including the European Medicines Agency (EMA) responsible for the evaluation and supervision of medicinal products. 

While Theresa May has strived to pass her Brexit deal through Parliament, a deal which would at least ensure that the UK would be guaranteed a 21-month transition period to organise the situation and have time to negotiate a trade deal, this is now not the case. On the contrary, with PM’s Boris Johnson’s declarations of leaving the EU with or without a deal, the possibility of a no-deal Brexit is back on the table.

No-deal Brexit

Leaving without a deal means that the 1.3 million Brits living in the EU are suddenly left in a very complicated situation. By crashing out of the EU, means leaving behind the institutions that have for all these years protected us and given us security, health insurance and various other agreements that benefited us and guaranteed our smooth stay abroad.

If you are going on holiday, the government has advised that you buy travel insurance before you leave. However, if you are living abroad, Spain has already agreed to guarantee continued healthcare access to tourists and British expats until the end of 2020, provided that the UK grants Spanish living in the UK the same rights.

In France, things are more complicated, especially for those that spend six months of the year there. Both British and French governments have advised British expats to apply for a Carte de Séjour residency permit, however, many prefectures have halted applications until Brexit becomes clearer.

According to The Local,  both governments are willing to come to an agreement on healthcare as many French people live and work in London, and many Brits live and work in France. Unfortunately, no bilateral talks can officially begin unless Brexit has happened.

For many Brits, the idea of facing medicine shortages and feeling totally helpless is a nightmare. Many have said that, diabetics are stockpiling supplies of insulin by giving themselves less on a daily basis” to avoid dealing with shortages in the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. As Euractiv reported, “many of Britain’s 3.7 million diabetics, who include Prime Minister Theresa May, depend almost entirely on insulin imports from continental Europe.The hormone, which is usually produced by the pancreas, helps diabetics regulate their blood-sugar levels. A no-deal Brexit would almost certainly mean re-establishing customs and health controls, which could lead to delays at the border.”

But as the UK, Spanish and French governments are willing to alleviate any problems and help European residents and expats get the healthcare they need, they will hopefully be no problems in the case of Brexit.

As you are deciding to buy property abroad and worry about currency volatility and political events such as Brexit that cause unpredictable market movements, it is a good idea to get in touch with a foreign exchange expert and discuss your money transfer needs. Universal Partners FX have years of experience in the foreign exchange industry and can offer assistance when making regular payments abroad and sending large amounts of money internationally.

Property in Spain

Neither a weak currency nor Brexit seem to deter Brits from dreaming of buying their property in Spain. According to removal company AnyVan, Spain is the number one desired destination for British expats, beating such places as Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Dubai.

 

AnyVan poll

In a new poll carried out by removal company AnyVan, people in the UK were asked where they would like to live if they could choose anywhere in the world. 13% of Brits said they would choose Spain, while a 12% said they would equally prefer New Zealand or Australia. Other popular places were the US (10%), Canada (9%), Italy (7%) and France (6%). The CEO of AnyVan, Angus Elphinstone, said: "It's nearly a national sport in the UK to dream about moving. From flicking through property prices and listings on Rightmove to sitting down to watch one of the vast number of primetime TV shows offering advice to those looking to change homes for a place in the sun. Our research highlighted where people dream to move to, but there were still 16% of residents who didn't want to move anywhere."

The research demonstrated the differences between ages, as younger people looked for career opportunities in wealthier and bigger countries, where they can work and live comfortably. For example, those under the age of 34 were attracted to the US, with 16% admitting the US was their favourite, followed by Australia and Spain. Dubai was also a favourite among the young, as 4% wanted to move to the Middle East. On the other hand, those over the age of 55, dreamt of moving to New Zealand (14%).

 

Spain: the UK favourite

It's not just because of the sunny Barcelona or Madrid, the flamenco, bullfights and paella. Spain is so much more for Brits and offers everything they could wish for away from home. It's a stunning destination, with a lively culture. But it has also started to improve economically, with youth unemployment being down to 33 percent from over 50 percent in 2013. This is a place where both the young and the old will get to enjoy a rich lifestyle, without feeling isolated or far away from home.

 

Buying property in Spain is not such a bad idea

Brexit uncertainty might not be a defining factor when choosing to move abroad, but it can definitely hurt your finances when transferring large sums of money. It is not surprising that many economists and business professionals are warning that a no-deal Brexit will make things even worse, as the price of the pound could plummet, while many businesses could be under threat. The pound is currently down, especially due to fears of a hard Brexit and because of Boris Johnson, the frontrunner to replace May, who has said that Britain could leave the EU without a deal at the end of October.

If you are enthralled by Spain and its people, and want to move there, Universal Partners FX can help you with your international transfers and explain the process of moving funds or making regular payments when buying a property abroad. UPFX operates with no hidden fees and ensures that multiple international payments are more cost-effective. With their comprehensive hedging strategies, you can get a level of financial stability and security. Their unparalleled customer service means that you can get hold of them at any time, and they will make sure that your money will get where it needs to be within 24 hours.

If you would like to learn more or want to just understand how currency experts can save you money, give them a call today.

Buying property as the pound drops

Buying property abroad is exciting, but you need to be aware of the constant fluctuations of the pound sterling, which has been greatly affected by recent Brexit delays.

No-deal Brexit and May’s resignation

With the European Parliamentary elections and the constant fear of a no-deal Brexit, the political and economic landscapes remain under threat. The possibility of a no-deal Brexit and a weakened pound would only aggravate the situation. At the moment, after Prime Minister Theresa May’s resignation, things have become more complicated as everyone is wondering who can succeed her in the position and how this could further affect the economy. Her succession by a Leaver and Brexiter such as Boris Johnson can only mean more uncertainty as he has insisted that the UK must leave the EU on 31 October “deal or no deal.” This is definitely not what economists and the markets want to hear.

Economists point towards May’s inefficiency and inability to secure a Brexit deal with the opposition party, as the source of her troubles. The British pound has reacted negatively by slipping for three consecutive weeks.

Brexit deal: What is happening?

The weight now falls on the next prime minister, as business leaders are pressing and demanding that the next prime minister would need to have a clear plan that could reinvigorate Brexit discussions. The worst scenario is the choice of someone that would recklessly defend a no-deal Brexit that, as many politicians and economists agree, could only have a destructive result. As mentioned, Johnson is the favorite among Tories, but the competition is high, with 20 rivals competing and others concerned about his immoderate stance. As the Guardian reported, “moderate Tories alarmed at the prospect of him leading the country to a no-deal Brexit rapidly launched a ‘Stop Boris’ campaign.”

Chancellor Philip Hammond has warned both Johnson and former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab that any prime minister backing a no-deal Brexit would face a no-confidence vote. On the other hand, Jeremy Hunt is clearly against a no-deal Brexit which he has described as “political suicide.” As the situation remains uncertain, the pound’s trajectory would be influenced by the next prime minister and the way they deal with Brexit.

Buying property in Europe: Pound/Euro exchange

The pound has had a terrible run against the euro, and finance experts have forecasted that it will continue. GBP is set to slide as everyone is waiting to see who will be the next prime minister. Sterling will possibly remain very low against the euro due to the ongoing political uncertainty.

If you are considering transferring funds to buy your property abroad, this is the right moment to get in touch with a currency expert such as Universal Partners FX.

Foreign exchange experts such as UPFX have a lot of experience in transferring funds overseas and understand the various hurdles individuals and first-time house buyers face when they want to invest in property. They take the utmost care in understanding your needs and tailoring solutions that will help your finances go further. Delivering fast and secure transfers at the lowest price possible has been UPFX’s long-term goal and they will do everything they can to help you with regular transfers. By managing market volatility and protecting your hard-earned funds from the frequent fluctuations of the pound, their expert consultants monitor the markets on your behalf. By minimizing risk and having a deep knowledge of currency volatility, UPFX will aim to give you the best possible deal. Get in touch with your dedicated dealer and find out how much you can save on your international money transfers.