Brexit: Social security update and guidance on visiting second homes in EU


Susie Walker

Susie Walker

Partner and Head of Tax and Brexit Team


We’ve one eye on the news this week as Brexit negotiations gather pace. The latest updates indicate that we should know the outcome within the next few days, and there's even a chance we could know by tomorrow (4 December). While we're waiting, I'd like to highlight two areas we do have clarity on - social security and second homes in the EU.

HMRC has recently issued guidance covering both of these areas; and visiting second homes in Europe is a topic that's attracted a good deal of media attention lately. So let's take a look at what we know and any steps you should be considering now. 

Social security – considerations for your employees

Last month, HMRC published guidance relating to the UK’s social security coordination under the EU Withdrawal Agreement which will apply from 1 January 2021. Here’s what we know:

  • Any new claims should be determined in light of the Withdrawal Agreement social security coordination provisions. This will apply where there is any indication of a cross border element.
  • Any individuals who are in a cross-border situation on 31 December 2020 and who are within the full scope of the Withdrawal Agreement, will remain covered by the EU Coordination Regulations for as long as they remain in the same situation. As such, they will only be subject to one country’s legislation at any time, will continue to receive any benefits they already receive and they’ll be able to apply for new benefits as long as they meet the eligibility requirements.  HMRC has covered this guidance in full on their website here.

For employers, these are the steps you should be taking now:

  • Identify all potentially impacted employees and any imminent changes to their working patterns, also whether they are within “Full Scope” or not.
  • If you have staff in the EU, we recommend that you speak to an immigration lawyer if you haven’t already done so.
  • Any UK citizen going to an EEA country for business travel from 1 January 2021 will need to review each country’s domestic legislation for local requirements. If you need local advice, our team are on hand to help. We can support your needs by working closely with our colleagues in our PKF network (our network of international accountancy firms based across the globe).

UK nationals visiting second homes in EU

Recent press coverage has focused on UK nationals having limited ability to visit and stay in their European second homes after the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. The rules that will apply from 1 January 2021 are the rules that apply to all third country citizens visiting the EU, i.e. your stay cannot exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.

The 90-day rule applies to all countries in the Schengen Zone (all EU member states excluding Ireland and Cyprus). Full guidance is now available on the Government’s website here. Should you wish to stay longer at your second residence, you should consider tax implications that can arise. If you need help in this area, we’re on hand to help. We’re working with our colleagues from our PKF network (our international network of accountancy firms) to support our clients’ needs in this area.

We’re here and ready to help

We continue to watch the Brexit negotiations closely. In the meantime, if you have any questions on the above areas, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We’re working with a range of clients now and there is still time to prepare if you act quickly. You can get in touch with our Brexit team directly on brexit@jcca.co.uk.