Brexit - What British citizens living in the EU need to know

European Union countries have started to publish their plans for the treatment of British citizens in the event of a no-deal scenario after the UK leaves the EU.  The UK will now leave the EU on 31 October 2019.
 
British citizens will immediately lose their free movement rights across the EU if there is no deal (see our 2016 blog, Brexit and British Citizens living in other Member States), but these plans mean that British citizens already living in an EU member state will at least be allowed to continue living and working in that country.

In summary, the proposals are as follows. 

* Please note that where 31 October 2019 is referred to, this is unless MPs back the withdrawal agreement in advance of that deadline, in which case Brexit date would change.

austria

The Austrian authorities have submitted a proposed Brexit Amendment Bill.  The new law states that all UK nationals residing and working in Austria will be divided into two groups:

(i)            Residents in Austria for more than three months prior to 31 October 2019, complying with the EU freedom of settlement scheme

UK nationals and their UK family members who have been resident in Austria for more than three months prior to 31 October 2019 and comply with the EU freedom of settlement scheme, can apply for a Red-White-Red Card Plus (Rot-Weiß-Rot Karte Plus) or another residence permit under the Settlement and Residence Act within six months of a to be confirmed exit date (separate from the confirmed Brexit date). The exit date will be confirmed by the Austrian chancellor in due course.

Any UK nationals (and their third country or UK dependents) applying before this exit deadline can work and reside lawfully in Austria until the new permit is issued.

The Red-White-Red Card Plus can be granted to UK nationals and their third country or UK dependents under the following special conditions:

  •  the applicant must be lawfully resident in Austria for more than three months prior to 31 October 2019 and comply with the current EU freedom of settlement scheme (EU residence declaration obtained)
  • their stay in Austria does not endanger public interest or public security (evidence of clear criminal records)
  • submission of the application within 6 months as of the official exit date (until exit-deadline)
  • no German language requirements will apply
  • no proof of accommodation, health insurance or sufficient financial means are necessary

The Red-White-Red Card Plus grants unlimited access to the labour market and is valid for three years. 

If a UK national and their family member have been lawfully residing in Austria under the EU freedom of settlement scheme for more than five years already, they may also be eligible for the EU Permanent Residence Permit (Daueraufenthalt – EU).

(ii)           Residence in Austria for less than three months prior to 12 April 2019

There are no particular provisions in the Brexit Amendment Bill applicable to UK nationals (and their third country or UK dependents) residing and working in Austria for less than three months prior to 31 October 2019. Consequently, this means they will be treated as regular third-country nationals and will need a work permit and a residence permit (or a visa for working purposes) to work and reside lawfully in Austria.

The Austrian authorities have advised that these measures will only apply if there is (i) no deal between the UK and the EU by 31 October and (ii) provided the Brexit Amendment Bill passes the Austrian Parliament. 

 

Belgium

Belgium is preparing emergency legislation in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  The Belgian authorities have approved a preliminary draft bill that regulates the right to reside for UK citizens and their family members.  Their rights are based on a reciprocal agreement with the UK.  It is expected that UK nationals will be able reside in Belgium until 31 December 2020 without having to obtain the new single permit/work permit.  Belgium would also continue to apply European social security rules to UK nationals who would keep social security rights until 31 December 2020.  

 

bulgaria

The Bulgarian government has announced guidelines on how UK nationals and their family members will be treated in Bulgaria in the event of either a deal or a no-deal Brexit.  A transition period will be implemented until 31 December 2020.  While specific steps on the process are yet to be confirmed, UK nationals will need to apply for a national residence permit.   UK nationals who have obtained a Residence Certificate (удостоверение за пребиваване) – the existing mandatory document for EU nationals who reside in Bulgaria for more than three months - can remain in Bulgaria during the transition period.

UK nationals who are yet to obtain the Residence Certificate will be permitted to stay up to 90 days after entry to Bulgaria at which point they will need to apply for a residence permit.  The new law is unclear as to whether UK nationals currently residing in Bulgaria will be permitted to continue working in Bulgaria during the grace period.
Non-EU family members of UK nationals who were family members on or before the finalised date of Brexit but did not reside in Bulgaria from that date, will have until 31 October 2022 to apply for a national residence permit. Family members who became family members between the finalised date of Brexit and 31 December 2020 would have until 31 December 2020 to apply for a national residence permit.

 

cyprus

While no official plans have been published by the authorities in Cyprus, guidance was published in December 2018 outlining residency requirements and on-going rights for UK nationals in Cyprus.  UK nationals who have been consistently resident in Cyprus for five years by 31 December 2020 are eligible to apply for permanent residence.  Those who do not meet the continuous residence requirement by the specified date will be given an extension on the basis that they have lived in Cyprus prior to 31 December 2020, which allows them to reach the five year threshold and subsequently apply.

 

czech republic

The Czech government has approved a proposed law for the treatment of UK nationals residing in the Czech Republic after 31 October 2019 in case of a no-deal Brexit. The new law will take effect on 31 October 2019 and will include the following key measures:

A transition period of 21 months, commencing on 1 November 2019.  UK nationals already registered in the Czech Republic will be able to apply for a residence permit.

UK nationals currently holding an EU temporary residence certificate would be able to continue working and staying in the Czech Republic until 30 December 2020. 

Non-EU family members of UK nationals, who have a residence permit, can stay in the Czech Republic until 30 December 2020. After this date, affected individuals would have to obtain a different permit type. 

UK nationals who have resided in the Czech Republic for more than five years can apply for permanent residence permit if they meet the same eligibility criteria as for non-EU nationals. 

UK nationals who have resided in the Czech Republic for less than five years can apply for a local residence permit type if they meet the same eligibility criteria as for non-EU nationals.

 

denmark

The Danish government has announced that UK national residents and their non-EU family members can continue to stay and work in Denmark in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  Draft legislation was submitted to parliament and will take effect by 1 November 2019.  A transition period will be confirmed in the new law, as yet the length of this is unconfirmed.  In the meantime, Danish authorities are advising UK nationals and their family members to apply for a registration certificate or dependant residence permit. They will also be able to apply for these documents during the aforementioned transition period.

 

Estonia

The Estonian government has published a report outlining that following 31 October 2019, UK nationals and their family members will be able to remain in Estonia on the basis of valid ID cards until their expiration date.  After this, they will need to obtain new residency documents.  A transition period will be enforced lasting up until the end of 2020. 

 

finland

Authorities in Finland are yet confirm official instructions outlining the steps for British citizens to preserve their right of residence.  The current recommendation is for British citizens living in Finland to ensure that they have registered their right of residence and, if eligible, apply for a certificate of the right of permanent residence of an EU citizen. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, Finland proposes to treat British citizens in the same way as other third country nationals. 

 

FRANCE

The French authorities have published an order to clarify the rights of UK nationals continuing to stay in France after 31 October 2019, in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  The transition period will be confirmed in due course once the law has been finalised but will be between 3 to 12 months.  UK nationals who have resided in France for less than 5 years will have to apply for a designated permit to continue to have the right to reside and work in France.  These permits will not be subject to labour market tests.  UK nationals who have resided for more than 5 years in France as of 31 October 2019 will be entitled to apply for a 10 year Residency Card. 

 

GERMANY

The German government has announced further details that are more favourable on how UK nationals and their family members will be treated in Germany in the event of no-deal Brexit.  A transition period will be implemented until 31 December 2019.  While specific steps on the process are yet to be confirmed, UK nationals will need to apply for a work and residence permit.  Once applications are in process, they will retain their rights to remain and work in Germany even if the processing time goes beyond the end date of the transition period.  Some immigration offices in Germany have already opened the registration process for UK nationals to register in advance of the confirmed Brexit day.  Applicants should contact their local immigration offices to see if they are able to register as soon as possible.  Non-EU family members of UK nationals holding a residence card would similarly be able to continue to stay in Germany until 31 December 2019 and would also have to file an immigration application within the grace period.

UK nationals who enter Germany after Brexit for work would be able to continue to do so without a work permit during their first three months of stay.  Those staying for over three months will need to obtain a work and residence permit.

More information on this topic can be found in our previous blog.

 

greece

Greece has published legislation regarding the status of UK nationals in the event of a no-deal Brexit.   

A transition period will take effect from the date of withdrawal until 31 December 2020. During this period, individuals in possession of an EU registration card will be required to apply for a national residence permit. British nationals who arrive in Greece after Brexit but prior to December 2020 will  be treated as EU nationals meaning that they will remain eligible to apply for EU registration or residence permits during that period. 

 

Hungary

Further information has been provided by the Minister of Justice in Hungary regarding the status of UK nationals in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  UK citizens and their family members who do not hold a valid residency document at the time of Brexit will need to apply for a residence permit as a third-country citizen as soon as possible.  Registration certificates or permanent residency cards will remain valid for up to three years after the date of Brexit. For long-term residents, any application for a National Settlement Permit could be submitted up to three years after the Brexit date with a decision expected to be made within 30 days of the submission date.

 

ireland

The common travel area (CTA) between Ireland and the UK pre-dates membership of both countries in the EU, and thus is not dependent on continued association. Both countries have committed to maintaining the CTA in all scenarios, meaning that British citizens should continue to maintain residency, employment, healthcare, education and social rights in Ireland even in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Irish government is continuing to prepare for any emergency situations through the introduction of a Brexit omnibus bill to make arrangements to ensure the on-going rights of UK citizens in any scenario.

 

ITALY

Further to a decree made on 25 March, the Italian government has provided further guidelines that will be applied if the UK leaves the EU in a no-deal Brexit scenario. In particular, article 14 refers to the residency rights of UK nationals and their non-EU family members living in Italy.  UK citizens residing in Italy and their non-EU family members who have regularly resided in Italy for at least 5 years can apply for EU residence permits for long-term residents (Directive 2003/109/EC) at any time before 31 December 2020.  UK citizens and their non-EU family members who have resided in Italy for less than 5 years can apply for a residence permit 'for residency' ('per residenza') that will be valid for 5 years.

Effective from 1 January 2021 UK citizens and their non-EU family members who do not comply with the above provisions will be subject to the same sanctions applicable to all non-compliant non-EU nationals.
 
 UK citizens who have regularly resided in Italy for at least 4 years on the date of Brexit will be entitled to apply for Italian citizenship until 31 December 2020, while applications filed after this date shall be processed under the same regulations applied to all other non-EU nationals.

 

latvia

Authorities in Latvia are yet confirm official instructions outlining the steps for British citizens to preserve their right of residence.  The current recommendation is for British citizens living in Latvia to ensure that they have registered their right of residence.

 

Lithuania

UK nationals currently residing in Lithuania will be able to continue working and staying in Lithuania after Brexit.  The Lithuanian Government has announced there will be a nine-month transition period commencing on 1 November, during which time UK nationals residing in Lithuania must apply for a national residence permit, which can take up to three months to process.   Further details of this permit will be published in due course. 

Non-EU family members of UK nationals who have a corresponding residence permit will also be able to stay in Lithuania until 31 December.   They must also have applied for and obtained a new national permit during the nine-month grace period. 

UK nationals who will continue to work and reside in Lithuania after 31 October 2019 should register locally for a residence certificate as soon as possible and before 31 October 2019 if they have not already done so.  

 

luxembourg

UK nationals and their family members residing in Luxembourg will retain their rights after 31 October 2019 and can continue to work and reside in Luxembourg but will need to apply for a national residence permit as soon as possible.  There will be a 12-month transition period commencing on 1 November 2019.  The deadline for British citizens to apply for a national residence permit will be 31 December 2019. 

 

malta

UK nationals and their family members residing in Malta will retain their rights after 31 October 2019.  They will have to apply for a specific residence permit that will give them special status as citizens of a former EU country, however they will retain their rights.  It is expected that this residence permit will be valid for 10 years and will be renewable.  

 

NETHERLANDS

The Dutch government has provided additional guidelines on the rights of UK nationals in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
 
Immigration authorities (IND) in the Netherlands are issuing temporary work and residence permits in the form of paper letters to UK nationals registered with Dutch town halls. The temporary permits will remain valid during the transition period which will end on 1 July 2020.
 
UK nationals should register their address at their town hall as soon as possible. A permanent address must be provided as temporary accommodation such as a hotel or company address may not be accepted by the Dutch authorities.  Once the temporary permit has been secured, employers are advised to request a copy of the document and keep this with the employee’s personal records.
 
UK nationals who have resided in the Netherlands for five years or longer, including the transition period, are eligible to apply for  permanent residence .
 
UK nationals who travel to the Netherlands to complete cross-border work can continue to do so after the finalised date of Brexit in the event of a no-deal Brexit under the following conditions. 
  • UK cross-border workers must:
    • collect a passport sticker at an IND office (appointment only) – employers are advised to keep a copy of the passport sticker once obtained;
    • have an employment agreement that mentions cross-border activities in the Netherlands on or before the finalised date of Brexit; and
    •  be legally resident in the United Kingdom and return to the United Kingdom at least once a week .

 

POLAND

The Polish Government has published a new legal framework that will guarantee the rights of UK nationals living in Poland after 31 October 2019.  In the event of a no-deal Brexit, British nationals living and working in Poland will have a 12-month transition period (until 1 November 2020) before which they will need to confirm their rights by obtaining a temporary residence that will be valid for three years, or a permanent residence permit in Poland,if eligible, on the basis that they have resided in Poland for more than five years.

The specific process is yet to be confirmed. However, it will be regulated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Administration and applicants will need to submit, as a minimum, their passport and information about current and previous stays in Poland, or travel outside Poland. According to the proposed new law, individuals registering their stay will also have to submit fingerprints. No information is currently available regarding the possible costs of the application.  Successful applicants will receive a residence card that will be annotated "Brexit", indicating the acquisition of it in connection with the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

 

portugal

The Portuguese government has published initial plans for the treatment of UK nationals who will continue to reside and work in Portugal after 31 October 2019.  UK nationals will have a 21-month transition period from 31 October, during which time they will need to apply for a residence permit. UK nationals who have resided in Portugal for more than five years may apply for permanent residence if they can fulfil the eligibility criteria.  The specific steps to be taken for UK nationals who have lived in Portugal for less than five years and must apply for a residence permit will be confirmed in due course.  The transition phase will end on 31 December 2020. 

 

slovakia

The Slovak Government has announced that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK national residents and their non-EU family members can continue to stay and work in Slovakia. The government will be submitting legislation to parliament in due course that will guarantee the rights of UK nationals residing in Slovakia.  No further details have been confirmed on the details of the law at this point. The government has stated that any Slovak arrangements will be subject to reciprocal protection of Slovak nationals in the United Kingdom.

 

slovenia

The Slovenian Government confirmed that it plans to safeguard the rights of UK nationals residing in Slovenia in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  The government will be submitting legislation to parliament in due course that will guarantee the rights of UK nationals residing in Slovenia.  No further details have been confirmed on the details of the law at this point. The government has stated that any Slovenian arrangements will be subject to reciprocal protection of Slovenian nationals in the United Kingdom.

 

spain

Draft legislation has been proposed by the Spanish government outlining the treatment of UK nationals and their non-EU family members living in Spain in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

A 21 month grace period will be implemented, which is set to commence on 31 October 2019 in the event of a no-deal Brexit. During this time UK nationals and their families are required to apply for a national residence permit. Permit holders will be able to continue to work and live in Spain after 31 December 2020. UK nationals who have lived in Spain for five years or more as of 31 October 2019 will be eligible to apply for a long-term residence permit under the same eligibility requirements as applicable to EU applicants. UK nationals who have been living in Spain for a period of less than five years as of 31 October 2019 will be able to apply for a local permit, but the eligibility requirements for this permit remain uncertain.

Despite the grace period, it is recommended that all UK nationals obtain an EU registration certificate to act as evidence of their local status. While the draft law is in the process of being finalised, it remains possible that in advance of 31 October 2019 the Spanish parliament may alter or revoke the legislation. UK nationals and their non-EU families living in Spain should remain aware of the possibility of additional changes to the contingency plan as Brexit draws closer.

 

SWEDEN

The Swedish authorities have confirmed that UK nationals currently residing in Sweden will be able to continue working and staying in Sweden in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, they will need to apply for the appropriate residence permit as soon as possible.  A 12-month transition period, commencing on 1 November 2019, will be implemented for UK nationals to apply for a residence permit.  Non-EU family members of UK nationals will also be able to continue staying in Sweden until 1 November 2020 and need to apply for a similar residence permit.

UK nationals and their non-EU family members residing in Sweden for five years or longer by 30 March 2020 will be able to apply for a permanent residence permit if eligible.

It is advisable that British citizens register with their local immigration authority in Sweden as soon as possible and before 31 October 2019. 

 

SWITZERLAND

Switzerland is not in the EU, but Swiss nationals have free movement rights in the EU – including in the UK – and British citizens have similar rights in Switzerland.

The Swiss Federal Council has decided on arrangements for the admission of British citizens in the event of a no-deal Brexit. A designated number of permit quotas will be made available for British citizens who come to Switzerland to work on local, Swiss employment contracts after 1 November 2019. 
 
A quota of 3,500 work permits are to be issued for British nationals. This quota will be applicable initially between 1 November and 31 December 2019.   The 3,500 permits will be categorised as follows:

  •  2,100 long term B permits
  • 1,400 short term L permits

The permit quota for British citizens will be distributed to local cantons.  The Swiss Federal Council has agreed with the UK previously that UK citizens who have already acquired rights of residence in Switzerland will have their existing rights safeguarded after the UK leaves the EU.

 

OTHER MEMBER STATES

We do not know yet how other member states intend to treat British citizens living in their territory if there is a no-deal Brexit. 

 

What should employers and their UK staff working in the EU be doing to prepare for a no-deal Brexit?

Employers should ensure that any British citizens living and working in the EU are aware of the relevant local immigration provisions and deadlines/grace periods so that they can prepare the necessary documents for them and their families in the event that an application for residence needs to be filed. 

British citizens who have lived in other EU countries for five years or more should consider applying for confirmation of their acquisition of Permanent Residence, which they are entitled to do under the Citizens' Directive.  

While many EU countries already require British citizens to register their residence, where this is not a legal requirement, it is advisable that this is done before 31 October 2019.

Updated 11 April 2019

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