Expat Essentials

No deal, no problem Pt. 1: More EU countries guarantee British expats post-Brexit grace periods

(Editor’s note: In light of the recent Brexit agreement, this post is constantly being updated as immigration policies change across the European Union. Also, we’ve broken up the original “No deal, no problem” post into two parts so it will load faster. This post, which replaces the original “No deal, no problem,” has countries listed alphabetically, Austria through Latvia. You can see Pt. 2 here, which includes Luxembourg to Switzerland.)

To hear the Brexiteers tell it, countries in the European Union have no autonomy. All decisions are made by the Little Dictators in Brussels. If only that were true. Then we wouldn’t have 27 countries plus Switzerland and Scandinavia scrambling to figure out what to do with their British expats now that Brexit is a reality.

That, and we wouldn’t have to figure out if our host country has a constitutive Brexit policy or a declaratory policy. It makes a big difference because under declaratory policy, the UK’s withdrawal agreement sets the rules for British expats in the EU, which automatically guarantee Brits the same rights they had as EU citizens. An example is Spain, which is the first country to start giving current British residents new cards documenting their long-term residence status.

Fourteen countries, including Italy and Portugal, have opted for a “declaratory” registration system that does not involve deadlines. Under a constitutive policy, British expats have to register and request a long-term resident status … and be granted that status. Thirteen countries have constitutive policies including France and Sweden.

Concerns about their citizens in the UK have countries from Spain and Portugal to Poland making clear that ultimately, they’ll allow Brits to stay only if there is reciprocity and their citizens get settled status in Britain. For example, Spanish authorities are saying British expats will have the same rights in Spain post-Brexit as long as the UK extends residency rights to Spaniards already living in the UK.

After 31 December, open EU borders will close for British travelers since Boris and Home Secretary Priti Patel have said repeatedly freedom of movement will end. Most EU countries have already confirmed they will allow UK nationals to enter and remain for up to 90 days without a tourist visa. In Portugal it is 180 days, and Spain looks to be following suit.

Reciprocity aside, one big change is that Brits living in the EU are getting residence cards that will prove their status after 31 December.

From Politico: 

The EU-wide residence document will have the same format in all member states, and will look like residence permits for other third-country nationals. The only difference would be an “Article 50” mention and an indication of whether it was issued under a declaratory or a registration system.

Still, questions remain as to which former EU residence rights each country ultimately will extend to newly arrived British citizens, who would have become third-country nationals now the 11-month transition period has ended. (The EU has a running list of all 27 countries here.)

The good news is that UK nationals who have settled status before the transition deadline get to stay forever under the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement. But there are currently no protections for UK nationals arriving after 2020.

In some countries such as France and Spain, Brits never have had to register as permanent residents, which introduces another layer of anxiety. Until they get their long-term residence status as a third-country nationals, they’ll won’t be able to leave their host country after 1 January 2021, then return as anything but tourists.

So while British expats will be able to remain where they are living in Italy, the Netherlands and other countries, they could lose freedom of travel – unless they have long-term residence permits – within the Schengen Area until the UK can draw up separate reciprocal long-stay residence agreements.

Has your head exploded yet? Well, one more complication – after 31 January, British citizens in EU countries will fall under the host country’s pandemic rules including non-essential travel bans, if any.

Bottom line: Wherever they are living now, British citizens should apply for a long-term residence permit sooner rather than later. Because they can take awhile to get and unless they have one, it will be hard for them to re-enter their country of residence should they, say, need to return to the United Kingdom for a visit.

Here are the changes in the countries with the most British citizens:

AUSTRIA (updated)

CliffsNotes Version:  Austrian officials just announced Brits must apply for residence permit Article 50 TEU from 1 January 2021. That permit allows you to live, work and/or study in Austria.

The Whole Story:

For 12 months after the end of the transition phase, i.e. until the end of December 2021, you can apply for a permanent residence permit. You will receive a residence permit Article 50 EUV – valid for five years – in a credit card format.

If you already have a certificate of permanent residence or a permanent residence card, you can exchange it for a residence permit Article 50 EUV valid for 10 years.

The Austrian government has a complete and well-organized website. (Come on, they’re basically better-organized Germans.) There’s also a Brexit hotline:  country code 43 (0) 800 222 666.

A new EU report states that Austria, along with Denmark, is considering expelling Brits it determines represent a danger to public order and security.

If you’ve lived in Austria  (and they always state “legally,” though that’s a given) for less than five years, you’re eligible for a ‘Rot-Weiß-Rot – Karte plus’ residence permit. If you lived there more than five years, you’re already eligible for a permanent residence status (‘Daueraufenthalt – EU’). Please check out all the details on the website.

Here’s the link to the Austria page on the new GOV.UK Brexit website. About 10,000 Brits live in Austria. Austria has created a Brexit hotline – +43 (0) 800 222 666 (free of charge within Austria).

BELGIUM (updated)

CliffsNotes Version:  UK nationals and their family members will have until 31 December 2021 to apply for their new residence status. Everything will be handled through the local municipality.

Because Brussels is the legal capital of the EU, employees of international organisations are entitled to a special residence permit from the Protocol Directorate under certain conditions. 

British citizens in Belgium will soon be getting a document laying out their rights after the end of the year. If they qualify, they’ll also get a new “M” card, an electronic ID that’s good for five years. When applying for the new residence status, you get a certificate of application for beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement, covering all your residence rights until a decision has been taken.

You can read all the details here.

The Whole Story: Belgium is a bigger political mess than the United Kingdom, if that’s possible, split between the Far Right in Flanders, the socialists in Walloon and the Greens in Brussels. Belgium has assured its British expats they can stay in place and work without a permit. That said, Belgium’s offer (like those of all European countries) is based on reciprocity from the UK and can be withdrawn.

Bottom line: Brits are encouraged to monitor the situation, and they can apply now for long-term residence permits as third-country nationals. BUT, of course with the still unclear deal, that might mean different rules for residence application.

There are about 25,000 Brits in Belgium, most working for the EU or for Belgium-based multinationals such as brewer AB InBev.

BULGARIA

CliffsNotes Version: (updated) Bulgaria is a declaratory system. Bulgaria will have a transition period through the end of 2020 for Brits to re-register as third-country nationals with 10-year residency permits. Bulgarian officials have launched an English-language page on their Interior Ministry website laying out their Brexit policy.

 Brits alreading holding Bulgarian residence documents can use them up to one year after the end of the transition period or the expiry date of their documents – whichever comes first.

The Whole Story: Brits living legally in Bulgaria as of the official Brexit date of 31 January will have until the end of 2021 to re-register as third-country nationals rather than EU citizens … as long as the UK offers a reciprocal deal for Bulgarians in the UK. All British expats will have to register as third-party residents, which is true in most EU countries. There are about 5,000 Brit living in Bulgaria, mostly business executives and tech entrepreneurs.

Here’s the link to the Bulgaria page on the new GOV.UK Brexit website.

CROATIA

CliffsNotes Version:  Croatia is a declaratory system. British expats will have up to a year to replace current residence documents with permanent long-term residence visas.

The whole story: Brits under the Withdrawal Agreement can register their residence starting 1 January 2021, and on completion of the procedure, will be issued a residence permit confirming their status. Residence permits should be obtained before 30 June 2021. If you don’t, you could be looking at a fine.

There’s more information on the Republic of Croatia official website. There’s also more here on the new official GOV.UK Brexit site.

By the way, Croatia is one of the many countries planning on introducing a digital nomad visa, so that could be one option. You can see the details here.

CYPRUS (updated)

CliffsNotes Version:  Cyprus is a declaratory system. Croatia will honor existing permits through 31 December 2020, with applications for third-country permits starting 1 January 2021.

Brits arriving to live permanently in Cyprus after 1 January 2021 will be subject to the Mediterranean island’s immigration rules.

The Whole Story:

Brits who have residence rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, but haven’t applied for residence documents by the end of the transitional period, will continue to have the right to apply within a new procedure initiated on 1 January 2021 provided they can prove documentary evidence of their residency prior to the end of the transitional period. And unlike other countries, there are not deadlines to do this. And Brits keep all the workers’ rights they had as EU citizens.

By the way, we were shocked to learn that about 60,000 Brits live in Cyprus at least part time, according to the Institute for Public Policy Research. (The other side of the island is the Republic of Northern Cyprus … only recognized by Turkey, which is not an EU member.) Here’s the link to the Cyprus page on the new GOV.UK Brexit website. CZECH REPUBLIC (updated)

The Whole Story: Cyprus is the latest EU member state (a member since 2004) to officially sign on the list of countries giving British expats a grace period. CZECH REPUBLIC (updated)

CliffsNotes Version:  The Czech Republic is a declaratory country. The Czechs are giving Brits a grace period through at least June 2021.

The Whole Story:

To stay in the Czech Republic after June 2021, during the transition period you had to submit an application for a temporary, a long-term or a permanent residence permit of third country nationals. Expats will need the certificate of registration to stay.

UK citizens who applied but whose application was not granted by 29 March 2019 will be able to stay until their application is processed. British citizens arriving in the Czech Republic after the Brexit date are third country nationals and fall under the rules for all third-country nationals. Only about 7,000 British citizens live in the Czech Republic, but about 40,000 Czech citizens live in the UK. “We are, of course, counting on there being a reciprocal move,” Emerging Europe quotes Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš as saying.

Here’s the official website. There’s also lots more info on the new official GOV.UK Brexit website here.

DENMARK

CliffsNotes Version:  Denmark is a constitutive country.

Applications for registration certificates and residence cards must be submitted to the Agency for International Recruitment and Integration. Denmark just added a new online portal for applications, and you can see it here.

The Whole Story:

The Ministry of Immigration announced on 10 November that a new residence document will be required for anyone seeking the right to live and work in Denmark, including those who already have permanent residency rights gained under the UK’s former membership in the EU. Residents with a CPR number should receive official notification by the end of November, according to the Copenhagen Post.

Applications for the new residency document are being handled by SIRI, the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration, and will open on 1 January 2021. Documents must be submitted by 31 December 2021, meaning British citizens will have a year to register their right to remain in the country. The applications will be posted on the government’s New to Denmark website.

You can read the SIRI letter going out to British expats here. There are a LOT of details, so read this letter first.

Here’s the link to the new GOV.UK site which also has detailed information.

There are about 18,500 British expats living in Denmark.

EEA EFTA COUNTRIES

CliffsNotes Version: It’s all good ….

The Whole Story: Britain and the EEA EFTA countries –  Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – reached a no-deal Brexit agreement way back in February, 2018. The reciprocal agreement guarantees the right to remain of EEA EFTA citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EEA EFTA states. Norway is home to about 30,000 British citizens, most of whom work in the petroleum industry.

(Also see the separate Norway listing.)

ESTONIA (updated)

CliffsNotes Version:  Estonia is a declaratory country. Estonia is guaranteeing a long grace period through 2021. Pending reciprocity from the UK, Estonians are basically giving British expats as long as they need to figure it all out. BUT, if you want to travel, you must exchange your current EU citizen residence document for a residence permit card. Estonian officials have started issuing the new right of residence documents to Brits at beginning of 2021.

The Whole Story: No matter what happens including a no-deal Brexit, UK citizens will be able to continue living in Estonia. Estonians are granting Brits temporary residence permits for settling permanently – valid for up to five years – or a long-term resident’s permit, depending on whether they have temporary status or rights of residence.

“All UK citizens who wish to settle in Estonia after the withdrawal of the UK from the EU will have to apply for a residence permit like all other citizens of third countries,” the statement added.

Brits arriving in Estonia after April 2021 “would already fall within the scope of regulation of the Aliens Act, which means they will require a residence permit for living in Estonia like all other citizens of third countries.”

In March 2020, TNW posted how Estonia is being flooded with requests for info from British businesses hoping the country’s e-Residency program will prove to be a quick shift to the Continent and continued business links to the EU. Estonia currently has 2,651 British e-residents that have set up 312 companies in the country, with 40 of those established in the first quarter of 2019, according to the post.

Here’s Estonia’s official Brexit info page.

Here’s a more current website with post-Brexit information.

Here’s the link to the new GOV.UK page on Estonia.

FINLAND

CliffsNotes Version: Finland is a constitutive country. Finland immigration services opened the application process on 1 October, and the fee is 48 euros. However, there are a few issues on the horizon because the withdrawal agreement has an expiration date. UK nationals in Finland have until the end of September 2021 to assert their Withdrawal Agreement rights. Our advice? Lawyer up.

Bottom line: If you didn’t arrive before 31 December, you’re going to have more hoops through which to jump.

The Whole Story: With Brexit official, Brits in Finland are advised to register their right of residence with the Finnish Immigration Service as soon as possible. Finland, like other EU member nations, sent letters to their British guests on Brexit Day. 

We went through that information and found a few new nuggets of interest:

• With Brexit, Brits are now limited to 90 days in Schengen should they leave their country of residence, in this case Finland.

• If British expats have a permanent right of residence in Finland based on the withdrawal agreement, they will lose that right if they remain outside of Finland for more than five consecutive years.

• Let’s say your company sent you to Finland for 2020, but you’re leaving afterward. Your right to residence is void when you leave. And if you try to move to Finland after 1 January 2021, you’re also out of luck because you’re now a third-country national.

Here’s the link to the Finland page on the GOV.UK Brexit website.

Here’s the official Finnish immigration portal with links to all the application websites. It’s very detailed.

There are about 5,000 UK citizens living in Finland, most of whom are dreaming about Spain.

FRANCE (Long)

CliffsNotes Version (updated):  France is a constitutive country. France issued a Brexit decree guaranteeing a one-year transition period beginning on the day after Brexit, but only a 6-month window to apply for permanent residence under a constitutive scheme. Britons must apply for special residency permits stating they are protected by the terms of the withdrawal agreement.

Every British citizen living in France will have to apply for a new residence status and a new carte de séjour. But first, they have to get a withdrawal agreement residence permit before 1 July, 2021.

You can apply here.

The problem is that unlike, say, the Netherlands and the rest of the EU, France never required British citizens who live there to register. Brits basically just showed up as EU citizens and settled down. Now, that visa status will depend whether you’ve lived in France more than five years or less than five years, Brits are required to gather up documents such as tax bills and utility bills to prove their length of residence.

UK citizens must apply for residency as third-country nationals. The most important thing you need to know is, if you wait to register as a third-country national, you could go months without any official proof of residency status because French authorities are overwhelmed with thousands of applications. Which means if you leave France after 31 December, you’ll have to re-enter on a tourist visa good for only 90 days.

Also, if you’re just moving to France with days left, you’ll need a attestation de déplacement form because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. You can get it here on the French Interior Ministries website.

The Whole Story: 

Although British citizens must be established in France by 31 December, they have until  30 June, 2021 to apply for the new permit. BUT there are still hoops to jump through including swapping old EU drivers license via a website and applying for a carte de séjour. (In order to get a residence permit, you have to have a residence, which has set off a scramble for homes.)

Brits who have a permanent carte de séjour as European citizens can just exchange it for a new carte de séjour, but be sure to bring along your passport and current residency card. (Be sure you have your immigration lawyer by your side as you work your way through the new rules, which are incredibly long and written in masterfully vague legal boilerplate.)

To complicate things, French law has multiple categories:

• employed/self-employed

• student

• retired or otherwise non-economically active

• family member of one of the above

If you’ve been living in France legally for five years or more, you are eligible to apply for a long-stay residence visa. But of course, you’ll have to prove you have substantial assets and health care policies and won’t be a drain on the French social services though the new law doesn’t give any details.

French immigration officials are vetting Brits on a case-by-case basis, but here are the general income amounts per France Rights:

The guideline figure shown on the application form and table if you are under 65 is the level of RSA (revenu de solidarité active) for your household composition, currently 564.76 euros per month for a single person and 847.17 euros for a couple.

If you are over 65 it is the level of ASPA (allocation de solidarité aux personnes âgées), currently 903.20 euros gross per month for a single person and 1,402.22 for a couple. ​

Other categories include rules for students and others. And by the way, the Ordonnance can be torn up if UK officials don’t offer French citizens the same rights.

France also has lots and lots of rules about proving you’re a permanent legal resident including self-sufficiency tests. And if you aren’t employed and don’t have sufficient net worth, it’s going to be really difficult for Brits to get legal resident status and receive a carte de séjour.

Expat group Remain In France Together reports that municipalities are already struggling to deal with processing the paperwork as an estimated 200,000 British expats try to apply for various long-stay visa options. See RIFT’s detailed post here.

Here’s the very, very detailed France page on the new GOV.UK Brexit website.

GERMANY

CliffsNotes Version: Germany is a declaratory country, but everything else is a bit confusing. We thought any Brits living in the country before the Withdrawal Agreement were good to go, but apparently not. (See below.)

The good news is, in certain situations, people with “close personal ties to EU citizens,” such as partners, may move to Germany with those EU citizens even if they are not EU citizens themselves. Can you say, “loophole?” Because the law doesn’t define “partner.”

Bottom line:

Germany just passed in November the Freedom of Movement Act/EU which guarantees the continued residence of about 100,000 UK nationals and their family members living in Germany on 31 December 2020.

Brits MUST register with their local Ausländerbehörde (Foreigners Authority) by 30 June 2021 – the deadline is six months after the end of the transition period. You must exchange your UK drivers license for a German license within six months of moving to Germany.

According to the German interior ministry website, Brits must report their residence the foreigners authority (Ausländerbehörde) responsible for their area of residence by 30 June 2021. From that website:

It is not sufficient for them to register with the residents’ registration office (Einwohnermeldeamt). Having reported their residence to the foreigners authority, they will be issued with a residence document. This may take some time, but the legality of their residence status will not be affected. 

LAURA KAYE

The Whole Story:

If you didn’t get registered to live in Germany before 31 December 2020, you’re now a third-country national who needs a visa to enter and a long-term visa to stay.

Immigration officials in some parts of Germany were already pushing ahead to register British residents and issue residency permits. Dispatches Berlin contributor Laura Kaye alerted us that, despite the recent extension of Article 50, her local Ausländerbehörde, or Foreigners Registration Office, was pushing to get Brits registered and processed by the end of June.

From her email:

Thought you might like to know that Germany is issuing residency permits in advance of Brexit. They emailed us with an appointment date a couple of weeks ago. I went for my appointment today and was told we qualify for unlimited residency. We need to go back because my husband was travelling for work at the time, but other Brits were walking out with their visas already.

Germany has at least 100,000 British expats, most of whom are either corporate nomads, or who are married to German nationals. There are about 16,000 Brits in Berlin alone, the largest expat community in Germany’s capital city and most popular expat destination.

Here’s the link the the new GOV.UK Brexit website.

GREECE (updated)

CliffsNotes Version: Greece has taken the declaratory route, so the withdrawal agreement rules covers Brits through this year, guaranteeing them the same rights they had as EU citizens.

UK nationals who have been legally resident in Greece for more than five years, or who register as residence in Greece before 31 December and continue to stay in the country, establish “the right to remain” in the country.

The good news is, Greece – seeking to add to its professional class – is preparing legislation that could take the sting out of Brexit, offering highly skilled internationals a 50-percent tax break, according to Reuters.

Here’s the official Greek information website for Brits.

The Whole Story: Brits must apply for new residence document, though we couldn’t find the rules or the place to apply. They can also apply for citizenship after living in Greece for seven years. That might be lowered to five. If a Brit buys a house for 250,000 euros or more, residency is guaranteed, as is citizenship. You can see a full post about moving to Greece here. About 45,000 British expats live in Greece full-time and contribute heavily to the economy.

Here’s the link to the Greece page on the new GOV.UK Brexit website.

HUNGARY (new)

CliffsNotes Version: Hungary is a constitutive country, but all documents remain valid for three years.

The Whole Story: In Hungary, the withdrawal agreement sets the rules. British nationals who are residents at the time of Brexit will be entitled to a national permanent residence permit on the basis of three years prior residence. Then, they have three years after the negotiation period to get a new permit. So for three years after Brexit, previously issued documents including registration certificates, residence cards and permanent residence visas all remain valid. Here’s the page for information about the EC permanent residence permit for three-country nationals.

ITALY (updated)

CliffsNotes Version: Italy is a declaratory system. As are all EU countries, Italy is extending to Brits a grace period at least through 31 December 2020. And like all EU countries, Italy is finally rolling out new biometric residence cards, available next month at police stations in your municipality.

The card codifies rules for Brits per the Withdrawal Agreement as well as verifying the holder’s status in Italy.

You can see the details here.

The Whole Story:

Italy has just announced that Brits planning to stay in Italy for more than 90 days within 180 days are subject to national visa requirements, according to a statement posted Italian consulate’s website.

From the website:

Starting now, British citizens may submit a Long Stay visa application for entry on 1 January 2021 or later, if applying for the following purposes:

• Study
• Religious purposes
• Mission (we’re assuming they mean a religious mission)
• Elective residency

The submission of applications for National visas subject to the “Nulla Osta” (entry clearance) from the “Sportello Unico per l’Immigrazione” (Unified Immigration Desk) will be possible exclusively after the 1st January 2021.

For more information, see the Italian Minister of Interior website here.

Italy is issuing a new document, the attestazione di iscrizione anagrafic,” and “all UK nationals living in Italy are advised to get it – even if they’re already registered as a resident with their local town hall,” according to The Local Italy.

Even if you have even if you already have a certificato di residenza (certificate of residence), an attestazione di regolarità di soggiorno (declaration of legal residence) or an attestazione di soggiorno permanente‘, (declaration of permanent residence), you might need the attestazione di iscrizione because, well, it’s Italy.

On 25 March 2019, Italian officials passed legislation to guarantee British citizens a transition period through December 2020 to move to a third-country national status. British citizens legally resident in Italy on 29 March 2019 would keep most of their existing EU rights during the grace period. The grace period will apply to British nationals who have, by 29 March, registered or applied to register their Residenza or Soggiorno Permanente.

Brits will continue to enjoy access to healthcare, employment, education, social benefits and family reunification. BUT, British citizens living and working in Italy are required to register at their local Registry Office (Ufficio anagrafe) before the UK leaves the EU. Companies are people, too, and Italy just passed legislation for UK based firms in Italy. You can see that info here.

If you don’t have time, basically Italy is creating a grace period to allow British-based banks and other companies to keep operating up to a year post-Brexit.

There are an estimated 25,000 British expats living in Italy.

Here’s the official Italy website.Here’s the new GOV.UK Brexit page on Italy.

LATVIA

CliffsNotes Version: Latvia is a constitutive system, but EU rules under the withdrawal agreement apply for two years.

The Whole Story:

Until 30 June 2021, UK citizens and family members who entered Latvia and applied for the EU residence card before 31 December 2020 can apply for a new residence permit at the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs by submitting an application with a copy of their passport. The application can be submitted via mail or courier service or electronically, using a secure electronic signature.

The new residence card will identify UK citizen as having been legally resident in Latvia before the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020 and eligible for citizens’ rights in Latvia as guaranteed by the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you fail to submit an application by 30 June 2021, your residence documents will be cancelled and you become a third-country national.

In 2019, Latvian and British officials reached an informal gentleperson’s agreement allowing each country’s expats to remain in place even if there’s a no-deal Brexit. At the time, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said he was still concerned about reciprocity for Latvians in the UK.

(Editor’s note: Thanks to Joanna Storie in Latvia for the update.) Here’s the link to the Latvia page on the new GOV.UK Brexit website.

You can jump to Pt. 2 here.

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