Guidance

UK nationals in the EU: essential information

Information on the rights and status of UK nationals living and travelling in the European Union (EU).

Staying up to date

You can sign up for email alerts to receive updates to Brexit pages on gov.uk as the negotiations progress.

Country-specific information will also be added when available to the living in country guides for UK nationals moving or living abroad.

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

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.

What this could mean for you

If you are legally resident in an EU Member State on or before 31 December 2020 (the end of the Implementation Period) you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. Your close family members, including dependents and children born or adopted after 31 December 2020 will also be covered. Spouses and partners will be covered where the relationship existed before 31 December 2020.

Living in the EU after 29 March 2019

During the Implementation Period (30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020), free movement rights will continue to apply to UK nationals. This means you will be able to live in an EU Member State. If you are legally resident in the EU by the end of this period you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and will be able to continue living in your Member State of residence, enjoying the same rights to healthcare, benefits and pensions as you do now.

Moving to another EU Member State after 29 March 2019

During the Implementation Period (30 March 2019 until 31 December 2020), UK nationals will be able to move to another EU Member State as they can now. If you are required by the Member State in which you are resident to apply for a residence status, you will have until at least June 2021 to make that application.

The rules that will apply for people not in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement who move to the UK or EU after 31 December 2020 will depend on the outcome of the negotiations. The Prime Minister has been clear that UK nationals will still want to work and study in EU countries – just as EU citizens will want to do the same here, helping to shape and drive growth, innovation and enterprise.

Businesses across the EU and the UK must be able to attract and employ the people they need and we are open to discussing how to facilitate these valuable links. We will be setting out initial proposals for our future immigration arrangements with the EU in due course.

Working in the EU after 29 March 2019

During the Implementation Period (30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020), you will enjoy the same rights to work in an EU Member State as you do now.

If you are legally resident in the EU by the end of this period you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, and will be able to continue living and working in your Member State of residence broadly as you do now.

After the end of the Implementation Period, future arrangements for those not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will be determined by the negotiations on the UK-EU future partnership.

Receiving an uprated UK state pension in the EU after 29 March 2019

During the Implementation Period (30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020), the current framework of EU rules and regulations will apply, and this includes social security coordination rules, and the right to an uprated state pension.

We have now confirmed who will be in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement for social security coordination purposes. This deal means that UK nationals resident in a MS by the end of the implementation period will maintain the right to export an uprated UK state pension and receive associated reciprocal healthcare cover in the EU, for as long as they remain in scope.

The UK State Pension is payable worldwide under domestic legislation.

Access to healthcare in the EU after 29 March 2019

During the Implementation Period (30 March 2019 to 31 December 2020), the current framework of EU rules and regulations will apply.

As long as you remain in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement, your equal treatment rights to healthcare in your Member State of residence will be protected after the end of the implementation period (on the same basis as a comparable national of your Member State of residence).

Travelling to the UK

You and your family members (both EU citizens and in some cases non-EU citizens) will be able to travel to the UK as now until 31 December 2020. After that date, UK Immigration Rules will apply where a family member is not a UK national. We will be setting out initial proposals for our future immigration arrangements in due course. The UK’s departure from the EU does not change nationality law and therefore the processes for registering children and applying for British passports remain the same. UK nationals are able to travel to the UK at any time, including after 31 December 2020.

Double Taxation

The UK’s exit from the European Union will not change existing double taxation arrangements. Double taxation agreements ensure that any individual (not just a British citizen) who is living in a country that has a treaty with the UK will not pay tax in two countries on the same income/gain and determines which country has primary taxing rights. The UK has a double taxation agreement with all EU Member States, which will continue to apply on withdrawal.

Driving Licence validity after 31 December 2020

The validity of UK driving licences in the EU and other Member States’ licences in the UK forms part of the ongoing negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship. We will let you know when we have more information.

UK Nationals living in Switzerland after 29 March 2019

The citizens’ rights agreement reached in December does not cover UK nationals living in Switzerland.

The UK is currently negotiating with Switzerland with the aim of securing a deal on citizens’ rights similar to the one agreed between the UK and EU.

UK Nationals living in Iceland/Norway/Liechtenstein after 29 March 2019

The citizens’ rights agreement reached in December does not cover UK nationals living in Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

The UK is currently negotiating with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein with the aim of securing a deal on citizens’ rights similar to the one agreed between the UK and EU.

Voting in local/municipal elections in the EU after 29 March 2019

The ability for UK nationals to vote and stand as a candidate in local elections will depend on the electoral rules of the Member State in which they live at the point the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

We have said that we will look to return to this issue on a bilateral basis with Member States, to protect the rights of UK nationals where these rights will not continue. Information will be made available on gov.uk.

UK Nationals living overseas: Voting in UK elections

UK nationals living overseas are entitled to register to vote in UK Parliamentary elections as overseas voters for up to 15 years after they were last registered to vote in the UK.

More information on exiting the EU

Published 11 July 2016
Last updated 30 July 2018 + show all updates
  1. Additional information under section: What this could mean for you
  2. update to agreement information: further agreement of time-limited implementation period that will start on 30 March 2019 - 31 December 2020.
  3. updates and links to various segments, with additional segments
  4. additional link to Commission’s Q&A on citizens’ rights
  5. New section on UK nationals in Ireland added
  6. addition of the Prime Minister facebook note to UK nationals living in Europe with details of the agreement reached with the Commission in the first phase of the negotiations.
  7. New section on UK nationals living in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states section added.
  8. Update to agreement on rights for UK nationals and UK nationals who move to the EU after 29 March 2019
  9. update to 3rd paragraph text
  10. Reference to fifth round of negotiations
  11. Added links David Davis' closing remarks at the end of the fourth round of EU exit negotiations in Brussels, and the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence.
  12. Link to information on the latest negotiations. Link to sign up for email alerts.
  13. Add in link to Article 50 and negotiations with the EU page
  14. Updated on 26 June 2017 to reflect UK Government's offer on EU Citizens' Rights
  15. Updated information following the triggering of Article 50
  16. Updates to first and second paragraphs to reflect current situation
  17. Change to intro
  18. Amendment to introduction text and link added to Department for Exiting the EU
  19. First published.