• 2019.03.20
  • What Will Happen to Britons Living in Portugal?
Will the UK leave the EU at the end of March?
In most places in London in the 1990s, the majority of people were, naturally, Britons. You could hear beautiful British English wherever you went. As for immigrants, they had come from former colonies such as India.
The change came after the UK joined the EU.
Various aspects of movement between EU countries were freed up and people too flowed from the less wealthy Eastern European countries. The attractions were probably that the UK is the home of English, the international language, as well as its affluence and the availability of work.
I was surprised to learn that there are 300,000 Portuguese immigrants in the UK.

Now when you walk the streets of London you can hear all sorts of languages: Russian, French, Italian, Arabic, Romanian, Chinese, and so on.
This increase in immigration has led to cases of Britons feeling that their lives have been negatively affected, and more Britons now have negative feelings toward immigrants. Even though it’s not a matter of who is more important, it could be a natural outcome that the humans native to a land end up disliking outsiders. And when there are racial differences, the walls become all the thicker.

In Portugal, immigration from former colonies was high before EU unification. Then after joining the EU there was an influx from Romania because of the language similarity, and from other Eastern European countries, but it wasn’t as remarkable as in the UK. For them the reasons were probably that the country was not well off and there was virtually no merit in it. Despite accepting Syrian immigrants, I heard that only a few people wanted to come here, it was that unpopular.

But after golden visas (residence visas made available to people who purchase expensive property) were introduced, there was an increase in Chinese people. Although these are Portuguese visas, the holders can move about the EU nations freely, which is an attractive setup for them.
There was also an increase in people from Northern Europe. That’s because with today’s internet society, the impediments to moving to Portugal if you had a job no longer existed.
And then, the ones who have been here in large numbers since long ago have been the Britons.
What Britons and Northern Europeans have in common is their preference for warm places. From a Briton’s point of view, the main factors are that a lot of Portuguese can speak English, the distance from the UK is not great, and there are lots of flights between the two countries. Plus, Portugal is also a golf capital.

As Brexit approaches, I wonder what will happen to these Britons.
According to the UK Embassy in Portugal, 45,000 Britons living in Portugal are currently estimated to have completed procedures to stay after Brexit.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese government has set out a No Deal Brexit policy in the beginning of this year. Portugal will defend the rights of Britons who continue living in Portugal after the UK leaves the EU. With that, the UK government will probably preserve the residence rights of Portuguese in the UK.

If that is the case, I will be curious to see how many Portuguese leave this country and migrate to the UK before that time.


  • Megumi Ota
  • JobConservator, interpreter, and coordinator / Insitu (restoration), Kaminari-sama / Novajika, and others

I’m a conservator and preservationist living in Portugal. I specialize primarily in paintings (murals) and gold leaf design, and am involved with UNESCO World Heritage structures as well as the interior of the Palace of Belém. I derive great satisfaction from having close ties to my community in the rural village near the Silver Coast where I live. My hobby is gardening.

View a list of Megumi Ota's

What's New


What's New