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No deal Brexit - emergency contingency planning update

For our UK national members in the EU

Dutch and EU flags

EU flags at a 2017 pro-EU rally in London

SO FAR, we've come across announcements from the following EU member states about measures to guarantee to UK nationals the right to live and work there after Brexit, even in the increasingly likely event of a "no deal" scenario. This is an outcome in which the UK leaves the EU without a final exit deal with the EU. Unless anything else is agreed, this is due to happen on 29 March.

It's probably a good idea for UK nationals living in any of the EU27 member states to ensure they have up to date details on the population register (except France and Ireland, which don't have one.) Get a residency permit ("EU residency permit") for your country of residence if you can. Also, UK nationals in the EU and UK nationals thinking of travelling for any length of time to the EU should ensure that their UK passport has at least six months of validity after 29 March - renew it now if it's going to expire any time soon.

The information below was valid on 22 January, but expect some fast-moving developments. In the event of a final withdrawal agreement being concluded between the EU and the UK, the package of citizens' rights is likely to be much better (and clearer) that those detailed here. We haven't found any specific references to the self-employed in any announcements yet. Statements by UK ambassadors are best treated with caution - they have no influence over domestic legislation.

Links will be added shortly. Watch for updates, and for updates for EU nationals in the UK, which will be linked from this page.

Belgium: The UK's ambassador to Belgium has confirmed that "with or without a deal, British citizens already in Belgium will be able to stay living and working in Belgium". A "package of measures" will follow, promised the ambassador. Belgium's deputy prime minister Didier Reynders has reportedly pledged that protecting citizen rights in case of no-deal "is a priority". However, Didier's government is reportedly "not long for this world".

Cyprus and Malta have made no annoucements yet, but they are both Commonwealth countries. This may or may not make post-Brexit residency for Commonwealth citizens from the UK a little easier.

Czech Republic: UK nationals will have 21 months from March 29 to apply for a residence permit. Only UK nationals who have one of these EU temporary residence certificates will be able to live and work in the Czech Republic after 31 December 2020. They can then apply for permanent residence, with the same criteria as apply to non-EU nationals.

Denmark: There's no detail beyond Prime Minister Lars Rassmussen's promise in November that "no matter the end result of the negotiations, we will of course look after the thousands of British citizens living in Denmark." The immigration ministry then told The Local.dk that "it is not possible to inform you what specific rights British citizens will have after Brexit at present."

Estonia: Subject to legislation being passed, UK nationals will have two years from March 29 to apply for a permanent residency card as an EU national, which they'll have to swap for a non-EU "local residence card" between the start of 2020 and when the card expires. They can then apply for permanent residence, with the same criteria for non-EU nationals.

France: Formalities for permanent residence are complicated by the fact that France has no compulsory population register. (An Act was passed setting up a compulsory population register, but secondary legislation detaling how it would be done has never been enacted.) UK nationals will need to register and apply for a Carte de Sejour via their local prefecture office. We've heard cases of UK nationals being told they "can't register EU nationals", if this happens, ask to speak to the supervisor, who will have got the memo from the Ministry of the Interior.

Nathalie Loiseau, France's Minister for Europe, introduced a Bill in October that would trigger a series of decrees in the event of a no-deal Brexit, including measures to ensure that "in the absence of an agreement, in the morning of 30 March British living in France do not brutally find themselves in an irregular position." The Guardian reports this is conditional on the UK guaranteeing the rights of French nationals there. Other draft legislation gives UK nationals who work in the public sector continued fonctionnaire titulaire (civil servant) status, at least temporarily.

Germany: The immigration ministry allow UK citizens to become dual nationals - with a time limit until the end of the transition period, if one is agreed, which would be 31 December 2020.

Ireland: The Common Travel Area agreement between the UK and the Republic predates the EU, so it stands. UK nationals and Irish nationals can still live and work in the other country. However, EU regulations outlawed the practice of some professions (medicine and the law, for example) requiring an Irish language exam, used in the past to keep Brits from a much bigger labour market out of scarce jobs. This practice could theoretically return.

Italy: High-level officials from Italy's foreign ministry have given assurances to a group representing the 60,000 British residents there that they "would continue to be legally resident in Italy" even after a no deal. But recent legislation has given Italy's naturalisation authorities much more to process applications for citizenship, so naturalising is likely to take much longer.

Luxembourg: Two bills have already been drafted by the State Council "to regulate the right of residence of British citizens living and working in Luxembourg" after a no-deal Brexit, according to national broadcaster RTL. This includes possible provision for "visas", although UK nationals who are teachers - for example - will still be able to practice thier profession in the Grand Duchy.

Dutch and EU flags

Dutch and EU flags at a 2017 pro-EU rally in London

Netherlands: Foreign minister Stef Blok has pledged that his country will find a "decent solution" (unspecified) for the UK nationals staying in Holland even in the event of no deal. UK nationals who are on the national population register are gradually being sent letters asking them to make appointments to contact the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND). There are proposals to make dual nationality easier for "non-EU" citizens, which will include Brits after Brexit.

An earlier sample letter released to the press was addressed to "Jan Englander". It's unclear whether the IND are aware of the action comedy films starring Rowan Atkinson.

Poland: A draft Bill has been announced to give UK nationals a residency permit for five years (three years if they've been there less than five years) as an emergency interim measure if there's no deal. Their special residency card will reportedly include the word "Brexit" on it. There's a promise that details such as pension rights will be dealt with subsequently.

Portugal: Foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva has announced plans to allow UK nationals to continue living and working in Portugal with "access to public health systems and social security rights... qualifications would remain recognised." UK nationals must register by 29 March to qualify. This appears to be conditional on the UK responding "in the same way" to protect the rights of 300,000 Portuguese there.

Slovenia: UK nationals whose circumstances do not substantially change can work and stay until "national application procedures are developed."; Once these are in place, the government will contact UK nationals to invite them to apply for a "national permit."

Spain: As of late December, the Spanish government was reportedly seeking to reach deals that will guarantee rights to residency, healthcare and the recognition of academic qualifications for the estimated 300,000 UK nationals in Spain and for the 116,000 Spanish nationals in the UK, even in the event of no deal.

Sweden: The government's "Proposals to counter the most serious consequences of a no-deal Brexit for UK nationals" include an emergency ordinance allowing UK nationals to enjoy exactly the same rights for one year from March 29. Planned legislative amendments - to be in place by July - would make it easier for UK nationals to get residency and work permits in Sweden post-no deal Brexit.

Switzerland: Freedom of movement between non-EU member Switzerland and the UK (and other current EU member states) is based on an EU treaty. However, Switzerland has concluded a reciprocal deal that will allow UK nationals to live and work in the Confederation (and vice versa) regardless of the outcome of EU-UK negotiations.

UK: Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged that the EU Settled Status for which EU nationals (except Irish, see above) will have to apply will be valid regardless of whether there's a deal. As this page goes live, fees for registering for Settled Status have been waived

Currently being trialled, Settled Status applications open on 30 March: EU nationals have until the end of June 2021 to register. There's a voluntary trial of the registration software going on now, but it's probably a good idea to let someone else experience all the bugs in it until the scheme opens for real on 30 March. There's more here (information on fees is out of date.)

The Freelance is not qualified to give immigration or legal advice.

  • This article was last modified on 03/01/19 to add links and photos.