A British couple in their late 50’s….

A British couple in their late 50’s who have been resident in central Italy for 4 years, now stand to lose everything should there be no agreement on individual rights – rights of residence, healthcare, recognition of qualifications, future pensions uplifts, not to mention the ongoing trauma of uncertainty.

She is a psychiatrist who took early retirement in the UK so as to benefit from a steady employment-related pension income on moving to Italy.  He continues to work via the internet for a British company, paying National Insurance contributions (NIC) and taxes in the UK. This has entitled him to an S1 document enabling both of them to access the Italian health system through the operation of EU Regulation 883/2004 as implemented by Regulation 987/2009. This has been and is of vital importance to them both as they have existing health conditions requiring regular treatment.

They sold their property in the UK and bought a house in Italy where they have made their home. Their home was destroyed in last year’s earthquakes in central Italy and they now live in a caravan awaiting the Italian government’s promised temporary wooden house.

Their applications for Italian citizenship (which requires 4 years residence) have not yet been completed as it is taking time to replace all their records and documents which were lost in the earthquake. As it is, Italian citizenship applications take a minimum of 2 years to process so theirs are unlikely to be determined prior to the date of Brexit.

They are not yet entitled to permanent residence under EU Directive 2004/38 (5 years legal residence) and face a very uncertain future.

Their current incomes from the UK have been seriously eroded by the fall in the value of sterling. Their UK state pensions, which they will not be eligible for until a couple of years post Brexit, will not be sufficient to supplement their already low incomes particularly if there is no agreement for UK pensioners in the EU to get the automatic increases.

To supplement their incomes, she has been considering returning to work as a psychiatrist, and indeed, has been asked locally to do so, relying on the current EU wide mutual recognition of qualifications. However, given the uncertainty of Brexit, she has been loathe to take up psychiatric work as professionally it requires a longer term commitment than the next 2 years and it is wholly unrealistic for her to attempt to retrain in her mid-60’s to get the necessary Italian qualifications.

Should access to the Italian health system through the S1 be lost, their low incomes would be insufficient to cover private health insurance, even were such cover available, given their medical histories.

They would probably be forced to return to the UK where they have no family who could help them (their elderly parents already being dead). They would most likely have to turn to the state to both assist them with housing (to ‘sell’ a pile of earthquake created rubble is simply not feasible) as well as provide continuous healthcare. The on-going anxiety created by Brexit has exacerbated their existing health problems.

Peter and Rachel…..


Peter and Rachel are a retired British couple who live near Volterra in Italy. Both are UK state pensioners and UK tax payers. They have had Italian residency for 10 years and no longer have any property in UK.

Although very settled here, they have great concerns about the future, particularly the potential loss of their right to access health care in Italy after Brexit., as well as the loss of pension increases.

A few of years after moving to Italy, Peter developed lymphatic cancer and subsequently serious lung and heart problems for which he received and continues to receive good medical care in Italy. With the UK S1 certificate, all their healthcare costs are currently picked up by the UK under the reciprocal arrangements in accordance with EU law. Should these reciprocal healthcare arrangements be withdrawn, because of the seriousness of his existing medical condition, he will be unable to obtain private health insurance to enable continued access to the Italian healthcare system.

They do not have assets other than their house in Italy, but given the parlous state of the Italian property market, it will be difficult to sell it for anything other than a very low value – certainly insufficient to purchase even a small flat in the UK. Currently, their pensions and their house provide them with a comfortable if modest life. They are extremely worried that they will be forced to return to the UK , where they will become a burden on the state for assistance with housing, healthcare and longer-term disability assistance.

This is not something that they wish to do but should the healthcare rights be withdrawn, they will have little choice.

English Language school owner in Sardinia…


I am the owner of an English language school and have been living and working in Italy since 2004. My own status post-Brexit aside (I’ll become Italian if I have to), my biggest fear is for our business and it’s ability to continue to hire UK citizens as it is.  Currently it’s practically impossible to hire English language teachers from outside the EU. Should this come to pass, it represents a long time linguistic decline in a country already struggling to keep up with it’s EU and global competitors which will inevitably mean an economic impact, too for Italy (and all other EU countries).

Robert, a former Metropolitan Police Officer….


Robert, a former Metropolitan Police Officer in London, recently moved with his Italian wife and two young children to Sicily. Because his wife is an Italian citizen, Robert does not face some of the more complex problems of many other British citizens who live in Italy.

However, he does have two particular concerns. The first is his 10 years social security contributions (National Insurance Contributions) in the UK which would be lost should the right to aggregation with subsequent social security payments in Italy not be agreed in the Brexit negotiations. That could deny him a future pension given that his future INPS contributions would probably not be sufficient to provide an Italian pension.  The second concerns the loss of recognition of qualifications. He and his wife are planning to teach English as liberi professioniste. Both have TEFL qualifications from the UK, but if they are no longer recognized post Brexit, they would have to re-qualify, leaving the family without an income whilst they retrain.