Information on the rights and status of UK nationals living and travelling in the European Union (EU)
Staying up to date
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Current Status of UK Nationals in the EU
Until the UK leaves the EU, the UK remains a full member of the EU and UK nationals retain their legal status as EU citizens. There will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in the EU while the UK remains in the EU. This means:
Travelling in the EU
UK nationals can continue to travel freely within the EU using a UK passport
UK nationals do not require a visa to enter another EU country
UK nationals can continue to access healthcare during temporary visits to other EU countries using the European Health Insurance Card
Living and working in the EU
UK nationals can continue to work and live in EU countries
UK nationals can continue to receive healthcare in EU countries
UK nationals can continue to retire and collect their pensions in EU countries
Progress in the Negotiations - Citizens’ Rights Agreement
The Prime Minister has been clear that safeguarding the rights of UK nationals in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK was her first priority for the negotiations. This is a commitment that we have delivered.
The UK government has reached an agreement with the European Union on citizens’ rights in negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. This will provide certainty about the future of UK nationals and their families living in the EU. Most importantly, it will allow UK nationals to stay in their Member State of residence after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.
In December, we reached an agreement with the European Commission on citizens’ rights. On 19 December, the Prime Minister wrote to UK nationals living in Europe with details of the agreement reached with the Commission in the first phase of the negotiations.
On 19 March 2018, we reached a further agreement with the Commission on the terms of a time-limited implementation period that will start on 30 March 2019 and last until 31 December 2020. This means that all UK nationals lawfully residing in another EU Member State on 31 December 2020 will be covered by the citizens’ rights agreement reached in December.
During the Implementation Period, UK nationals will be able to visit, live and work in the EU broadly as they do now. UK nationals currently living in the EU who want to move to a different Member State will be able to continue to do so during the Implementation Period.
The UK and European Commission will now continue to negotiate on the detail of these agreements, to be included in the overall Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.
Who will be covered by the Citizens’ Rights Agreement?
The citizens’ rights agreement reached in December provides a level of certainty to UK nationals in the EU and their families. It will allow UK nationals in the EU to continue living their lives broadly as they do now.
Following the agreement on the Implementation Period, all UK nationals lawfully residing in another EU Member State on 31 December 2020 will be covered by the citizens’ rights agreement.
Close family members (spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents) of UK nationals covered by the agreement will be able to join those UK nationals in their Member State of residence. Close family members will enjoy the same rights by virtue of their relationship, where the relationship existed on 31 December 2020.
Children born or adopted to a UK national, covered by the agreement, outside of the UK national’s Member State of residence after 31 December 2020, will also be covered by the agreement.
Agreement so far on the rights of UK nationals in the EU
The UK and EU Commission have so far agreed that:
- UK nationals and their family members covered by the agreement will continue to have the same access as they currently do to healthcare, pensions and other benefits.
- UK nationals and their family members covered by the agreement will be able to leave their Member State of residence for up to 5 years without losing their right to return.
The UK and EU Commission have also agreed that:
- EU27 Member States may require UK nationals and their family members covered by the agreement to apply for a residency document or status conferring the right of residence.
- Administrative procedures for such applications will be transparent, smooth and streamlined.
- Where an application is required to obtain status, UK nationals will have until at least 6 months after the end of the Implementation Period to submit their applications.
- Residence documents will be issued free of charge or for a charge not exceeding that imposed on nationals for the issuing of similar documents (such as passports).
- UK nationals who, before the end of the Implementation Period, are holders of a valid permanent residence document or a valid domestic immigration document conferring a permanent right to reside, will be able to exchange that document for a new residence document free of charge. They may be required to provide proof of identity and undergo criminality and security checks.
- The introduction of administrative procedures, or changes to existing administrative procedures will be decided by each Member State. We will publish details on these administrative procedures as soon as possible.
More information is available in the Joint Report from the negotiators of the EU and the UK on progress, and in the Comparison Table of the UK and EU positions on Citizens’ Rights.
UK nationals in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway
The citizens’ rights agreement does not cover UK nationals living in the EEA EFTA states (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein).
Officials from the EEA EFTA States and the United Kingdom met on 12 February 2018 to discuss the agreement reached by the United Kingdom and the European Union in December 2017 on citizens’ rights. All parties affirmed their desire to secure the status and protect the rights of UK nationals living in Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein and nationals of those countries living in the UK.
UK nationals in Switzerland
The citizens’ rights agreement does not cover UK nationals living in Switzerland. The UK is seeking to secure the same protections for UK nationals living in Switzerland as for UK nationals living in the EU, on a reciprocal basis, through an agreement with Switzerland.
UK nationals in Ireland
The rights enjoyed by UK and Irish nationals in the Common Travel Area will not be affected by the UK’s exit from the EU. For further information, please visit the Citizens’ rights - UK and Irish nationals in the Common Travel Area page.