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No deal, no problem (updated): More EU countries guarantee British expats post-Brexit grace periods

As the United Kingdom moves inexorably toward a no-deal Brexit, an increasing number of countries across the European Union are assuring British expats that life will go on as normal. Well, at least for a few months.

This comes after the European Commission asked  – but decided not to order – member states to grant temporary residence permits to British nationals so they’ll have time to apply for long-term residency status. Germany already notified its British expats last week.

Questions remain as to which former EU residence rights each country will extend to British citizens, who instantly become third-country nationals at the strike of midnight on 29 March. If you’re an American in the Netherlands, for example, you have specific rights under the Dutch American Friendship Treat.

But a no-deal Brexit would push British citizens into a neither-nor purgatory where they would neither have EU citizenship status nor a separate post-Brexit immigration status because no-deal means no new treaties. In EU countries, reciprocity is becoming key to all expats’ fates, with Spanish authorities saying British expats will have the same rights in Spain post-Brexit as long as the UK extends residency rights to Spaniards in the UK.

So while British expats will be able to remain where they are living in Italy, the Netherlands and other countries, they will lose the right to move – or even travel – within the Schengen Area until the UK can draw up separate reciprocal long-stay residence agreements.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Emerging Europe is reporting the Czech government has proposed legislation that will allow British citizens to remain through 2020 post-Brexit.

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.

GERMANY

Here’s what we posted a few days ago. We couldn’t find any additional details.

Berlin officials have issued a notification that clarity on Brexit is lacking. “Whatever happens, British citizens will in future require a residency title or some other proof of their right of residency in order to reside in the territory of Germany,” according to a news release posted on Berlin.de. Starting 30 March, British citizens in Germany will get an initial 3-month transition period through 30 June 2019 to get that German residency title. So all British citizens have several months to apply for residency title at their local Foreigners Registration Office, and you can stay in Germany and keep working till you get a ruling on your application. But after 30 June, British expats will have to prove their right to stay, which we interpret as an employment contract or one of the visas for self-employed freelancers and entrepreneurs.

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.

ITALY

Expat group British in Italy members say they’ve been assured by Italian officials they’ll be allowed to remain in Italy after 29 March, 2019. That includes an initial transitional period of up to 9 months during which all British expats will be allowed to stay, then re-register as Third-Country Nationals.

You can see the full details on the British in Italy website here.

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

THE NETHERLANDS

The Dutch government issued a statement Tuesday that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, British citizens and their families “who are lawfully resident in the Netherlands prior to 29 March” will be entitled to live, work and study in the Netherlands for at least another 15 months. This transition applies to family members of British citizens who aren’t EU citizens according to the statement. So, British expats in the Netherlands are good to go for more than a year during which time surely something concrete will happen.

There are an estimated 45,000 British citizens living in the Netherlands.

SPAIN

Swedish officials are considering giving UK citizens a one-year extension with no change in residence status in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to Reuters. 

The waiver is to give Brits time to negotiate the paperwork of applying either for a third-country national residence permit or citizenship. Also, Spain just took live its “Prepared for the Brexit” website where it will post new regulations and policies affecting British expats.

About 30,000 UK citizens live in Sweden.

OTHER COUNTRIES

More important than who is giving British expats a grace period is who hasn’t weighed in yet.

The largest number of Brits live in Spain, an estimated 300,000. While the Spanish government has pushed them to apply for citizenship (and bring their money with them), Spanish officials have not officially extended the guarantee of a post-Brexit grace period.

Spain, like the United States, forbids most new citizens from retaining their original passport.

All that said, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in December that Brexit won’t change the status of British citizens in Spain … as long as the UK extends reciprocity to his citizens.

French officials apparently are still trying to finalize legislation regarding British expats’ statuses post-Brexit with the main complication reciprocity. French officials have stated they would guarantee the residence, employment and welfare rights of the approximately 160,000 resident British citizens living in France when Britain offers the same guarantees to French expats on UK territory. Portugal is offering a similar deal.

The biggest unknown is, “What’s going on in Greece?” About 45,000 British expats live full-time in Greece.

We’ll have an update from Greece, and this post will be updated as more EU countries reveal how they’ll deal with their British expats post-Brexit.

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