British expats could be forced to apply for long term residency visas if they want to live in Europe post Brexit, Home Office sources have said.
The changes, which will form part of the Brexit negotiations, would mean British pensioners who want to retire to Spain or Italy would have to apply for a residency permit and could be forced to prove their income in order to settle.
But Home Office sources have confirmed they expect the new system for people seeking to move abroad permanently would be similar to the one currently operating for non-EU nationals.
Expats could be forced to demonstrate their income and savings in order to get a residency visa to live in an EU state. There could also be requirements around family links with the country.
The source said: “It is likely there would be a system of long-term permits and residency. We want what is in the best interests of the British people but this will form part of the discussion.”
They added that the Home Office will be seeking an “easy and workable system” to ensure that people who want to retire abroad can do so.
Theresa May has promised to seek the best deal for British citizens and it is understood that officials could push for exemptions or looser criteria for UK nationals seeking to move to the EU as part of a negotiated plan.
But the EU Commission’s decision to consider introducing a paid for visa waiver for UK nationals traveling to the continent has prompted concern about the wider implications for travel across borders after the UK leaves the union.
Over the weekend plans emerged which would force UK nationals traveling to the EU on holiday to pay around £10 for a visa waiver in a scheme similar to the American ESTA system.
The plan has French and German support and Home Secretary Amber Rudd refused to rule it out, instead hinting that the UK could force a similar scheme on EU nationals in a retaliatory gesture.