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 on 29 March 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:

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 29 March 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 29 March 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 of 29 March 2019). The exit date will be confirmed by the Austrian chancellor in due course, but it will not be earlier than 29 September 2019).

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 29th March 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 29 March 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 29 March 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 29 March 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.  

 

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 29 March 2019 in case of a no-deal Brexit. The new law will take effect on 29 March 2019 and will include the following key measures:

A transition period of 21 months, commencing on 29 March 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 will be submitted to parliament before the end of February and will take effect by 30 March 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 29 March 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 29 March 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 29 March 2019 will be entitled to apply for a 10 year Residency Card. 

 

GERMANY

UK nationals will become third-country nationals after 29 March 2019 in the event of a no-deal Brexit.  While they will not need to leave Germany on this date, they will have to register at their local immigration office to secure their immigration status. 

A three month transition period will apply after 29 March 2019 and UK nationals will need to apply for the appropriate registration to secure their immigration status by 30 June 2019.     

The main concern will be for those who wish to naturalise as a German citizen. If a British citizen acquires German citizenship on or before 29 March 2019, they will be able to keep their British citizenship. However, if they become German after that date, they would be required to renounce their British citizenship as Germany does not allow dual citizenship with a non-EU country. More information on this topic can be found in our previous blog.

 

greece

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

 

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, health care, 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

The Italian Government has announced that they are working on legislation that will be in place by 29 March 2019.  Authorities have confirmed that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, British citizens regularly residing in Italy will remain legal residents of the country.

British nationals and their family members must register as a residents with their local registry office (‘anagrafe’) at their town hall (‘comune’) and they will be granted the rights to apply for the long term resident status as per EU Directive 2003/109/EC.  Furthermore, British nationals will continue to have access to the same rights such as healthcare, social benefits, employment, education, and family reunification.

British citizens living and working in Italy are strongly advised to register with the town hall as soon as possible and before 29 March 2019  to ensure they are legally resident. More information about the process to be followed can be found on the British in Italy website

 

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 have announced there will be a nine-month transition period commencing on 30 March, 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 will continue to work and reside in Lithuania after 29 March 2019 should register locally for a residence certificate as soon as possible and before 29 March 2019 if they have not already done so.  

 

luxembourg

UK nationals and their family members residing in Luxembourg will retain their rights after 29 March 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 30 March 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 29 March 2019.  They will have to apply for a specific residence permit that would 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 announced on 7 January 2019 that British citizens legally residing in the Netherlands on 29 March 2019 can continue doing so after Brexit in a no-deal scenario.

The key points announced by the Dutch authorities in a no deal scenario are as follows:

  • there will be a transition period of 15 months after Brexit in which all UK citizens will receive a temporary residence permit;
  • in the transition period all UK citizens in the Netherlands will have to apply for a definitive permit; 
  • since the Dutch immigration authorities will not be able to process all applications at once, all UK citizens will receive an invitation to apply in a certain time period during the transition period.

The Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service has sent letters to British citizens who are registered with their municipality inviting them to apply for a temporary residence permit before 29 March 2019. They will then receive a further letter inviting them to apply for the new national residence permit after the transitional period. This can be obtained if you meet the same residence conditions that apply to EU citizens, and will allow British citizens the right to work and study in the Netherlands. 

 

POLAND

The Polish Government has published a new legal framework that will guarantee the rights of UK nationals living in Poland after 29 March 2019.  In the event of a no-deal Brexit, British nationals living and working in Poland will have a 12-month transition period (until 30 March 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 29 March 2019.  UK nationals will have a 21-month transition period from 29 March, 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 29 March 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 29 March 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 29 March 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 29 March 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 30 March 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 30 March 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 29 March 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 30 March 2019. 
 
A quota of 3,500 work permit quotas are to be issued for British nationals. This quota will be applicable initially between 30 March 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 29 March 2019.

Updated 12 March 2019

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