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

When it is available, country-specific information will be added in 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. As a UK national, there will be no change to your rights and status if you live in the EU while the UK remains in the EU.

Travelling in the EU

You can:

  • continue to travel freely within the EU using a UK passport

  • enter another EU country without a visa

  • continue to access healthcare during temporary visits to other EU countries using the European Health Insurance Card

Living and working in the EU

You can continue to:

Progress in the negotiations: citizens’ rights

The Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship between the UK and EU were both endorsed by EU leaders at a special meeting of the European Council on 25 November 2018. Parliament will be asked to decide whether to accept or reject the deal the Government has negotiated.

If approved, the Withdrawal Agreement will secure the rights of 1 million UK nationals living in the EU.

The signed Agreement will provide certainty for you as a UK national and your family living in the EU. Most importantly, it will allow you to stay in the EU country where you are living after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.

The Agreement also sets out the terms for 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 Withdrawal Agreement.

During the Implementation Period, as a UK national you will be able to visit, live and work in the EU broadly as you do now. If you currently live in the EU and want to move to a different Member State, you will be able to continue to do so during the Implementation Period.

UK nationals and their families covered by the Agreement:

  • will continue to have broadly the same access to healthcare, pensions and other benefits as they currently do

  • will be able to leave their EU country of residence for up to 5 years without losing their right to return, if they have acquired the relevant residency status

UK nationals and their families covered by the Agreement should note that:

  • EU countries may require you as a UK national and your family members covered by the agreement to apply for a residency document or status conferring the right of residence

  • administrative procedures for these applications will be transparent, smooth and streamlined

  • where an application is required to obtain status, you 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)

  • if you hold, before the end of the Implementation Period, a valid permanent residence document or a valid domestic immigration document conferring a permanent right to reside, you will be able to exchange it for a new residence document free of charge. You may need to provide proof of identity and undergo criminality and security checks.

  • new administrative procedures or changes to existing administrative procedures will be decided by each EU country. We will publish details of these administrative procedures in our Living in country guides as soon as it becomes available.

An explainer of the Withdrawal Agreement is available.

Who will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement

If you are a UK national lawfully residing in another EU country on 31 December 2020, you will be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

If you are covered by the Agreement:

  • close family members (spouses, civil partners, unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents) will be able to join those under the Withdrawal Agreement after the end of the implementation period on the basis of current EU rules, where the relationship existed before the end of the implementation period. All family members lawfully resident with an EU citizen at the end of the implementation period will also be protected.

  • your children, born or adopted, will be covered by the agreement if you are outside your EU country of residence after 31 December 2020

UK nationals in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway

If you are a UK national living in the European Economic Area (EEA) and European Free Trade Area (EFTA) states (Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), the Withdrawal Agreement does not cover you.

Officials from the EEA EFTA States and the United Kingdom met on 12 February 2018 and 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 Withdrawal Agreement does not cover you if you are a UK national 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

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 you as a UK national. This means that you will be able to live in an EU country. 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 EU country of residence, enjoying broadly the same rights to healthcare, benefits and pensions as at present.

Moving to another EU Member State after 29 March 2019

During the Implementation Period, as a UK national you will continue to be able to move to another EU country. If the EU country where you live requires you to apply for a residence status, you will have until at least June 2021 to make that application.

The rules that will apply for you if you’re not included in the Withdrawal Agreement, if you 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 set 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, as a UK nationals you will enjoy the same rights to work in an EU Member State as at present.

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 EU country of residence broadly as at present.

After the end of the Implementation Period, future arrangements if you are 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, the current framework of EU rules and regulations will apply. 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. As a UK nationals living in an EU country by the end of the implementation period, if you remain in the scope of the Agreement, you will:

  • maintain the right to export an uprated UK state pension

  • receive associated reciprocal healthcare cover in the EU

The UK State Pension is payable worldwide under domestic legislation.

Access to healthcare in the EU after 29 March 2019

During the Implementation Period 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 EU country 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. As a UK national you can 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 anyone (not just a British citizen) who is living in a country that has a treaty with the UK will not pay tax in 2 countries on the same income/gain and determines which country has primary taxing rights. The UK has a double taxation agreement with all EU countries, which will continue to apply after we leave the EU.

UK nationals living overseas: voting in UK elections

As a UK national living overseas, you 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.

Preparations in the unlikely event of a no deal scenario

Delivering the deal is the government’s top priority. However, we continue to prepare for every eventuality, including the possibility of ‘no deal’.

On 6 December 2018, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU published a policy paper on Citizens’ rights in the event of a no deal Brexit. It confirms that, in the unlikely event of a ‘no deal’ scenario, EU citizens and their family members resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 will be able to stay and carry on with their lives broadly as now. The paper also states that the UK would still pursue agreements with the EFTA states in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario.

The UK continues to call on the EU and Member States to protect the rights of UK nationals in the EU in the event of a ‘no deal’ scenario. We want UK nationals to be able to stay in the Member States that they live in when we leave, and for their rights to employment, healthcare, education, benefits and services to be protected.

The UK cannot act unilaterally to protect all of the rights of UK nationals in the EU, which is why we have always prioritised reaching a reciprocal agreement with the EU and why the deal we have negotiated is the best way forward. However, where it is in our control, we will support UK nationals through an unlikely ‘no deal’ scenario. The citizens’ rights policy paper provides some details of how we will do this and further information will be set out in due course.

Technical Notices are also available for detailed sector-by-sector information on the actions citizens and businesses should take to prepare for a ‘no deal’ scenario.

On rights and access to services in the EU, the UK will continue to provide information to UK nationals in the EU on GOV.UK and through our network of embassies, high commissions and consulates. We recommend that UK nationals monitor this UK nationals in the EU page, ‘Living in’ guides and Travel Advice where we will publish information, as it becomes available, on issues such as residency and employment rights, and access to healthcare, benefits and services for UK nationals in individual Member States.

More information on exiting the EU

Published 11 July 2016
Last updated 6 December 2018 + show all updates
  1. Updated preparations for no deal section following the publication of citizens' rights policy paper
  2. Updated citizens' rights section to reflect the 25 November Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration
  3. updated following the Prime Minister’s 15 November statement to Parliament on the Draft Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU
  4. EU Exit update: Link to technical notices
  5. Additional information under section: What this could mean for you
  6. update to agreement information: further agreement of time-limited implementation period that will start on 30 March 2019 - 31 December 2020.
  7. updates and links to various segments, with additional segments
  8. additional link to Commission’s Q&A on citizens’ rights
  9. New section on UK nationals in Ireland added
  10. 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.
  11. New section on UK nationals living in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states section added.
  12. Update to agreement on rights for UK nationals and UK nationals who move to the EU after 29 March 2019
  13. update to 3rd paragraph text
  14. Reference to fifth round of negotiations
  15. 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.
  16. Link to information on the latest negotiations. Link to sign up for email alerts.
  17. Add in link to Article 50 and negotiations with the EU page
  18. Updated on 26 June 2017 to reflect UK Government's offer on EU Citizens' Rights
  19. Updated information following the triggering of Article 50
  20. Updates to first and second paragraphs to reflect current situation
  21. Change to intro
  22. Amendment to introduction text and link added to Department for Exiting the EU
  23. First published.