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Latvian government moves to ensure British citizens keep post-Brexit healthcare

On February 12, the Cabinet of Ministers approved amendments to the Health Care Financing Law prepared by the Ministry of Health which envisage that even after Britain's withdrawal from the European Union (EU) or "Brexit" on March 29, its citizens in Latvia will be able to receive state-funded healthcare services. 

In order to turn British citizens' current right into a future privilege, amendments to the law have been drawn up to provide for such British citizens and their families until 31 December 2020. If approved by Saeima,  Britons who have legally resided in Latvia up until 29 March 2019 due to employment or as self-employed persons will continue to have access to state-financed healthcare,

Currently, the Health Care Financing Law gives the right to EU citizens who work in Latvia or are self-employed, as well as their family members. This will continue to be the case until March 29, 2019, when Britain will leave the EU. 

After that date, only employed persons, but not family members, would have been entitled to health care services paid by the State of Latvia, hence the need for legal changes change.

Amendments to the law have yet to be approved by the Saeima, which will likely require the arrangements to be reciprocal from the UK side.

The healthcare regulations are part of a raft of Brexit-related legislation approved by government on Tuesday.

The government-sponsored bill sets out the procedures by which UK citizens and their family members who are already legally residing in the Republic of Latvia will be able to receive new documents confirming their right of residence. To do this, there is a transition period until December 31, 2020, during which UK citizens and their family members will have the opportunity to register and retain the rights that they enjoyed while the United Kingdom was one of the Member States of the European Union. 

The legal framework will ease the administrative burden for those UK citizens and their family members who were legally resident in the Republic of Latvia by 29 March 2019. They will be sent a personal letter explaining the procedure for re-registration of the right of residence, the deadline for this re-registration and the consequences of non-re-registration.

About 1,200 UK citizens and their family members live in Latvia.

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