Preparing for the end of the Brexit transition period – Implications for UK Nationals in the EU

Preparing for the end of the Brexit transition period – Implications for UK Nationals in the EU

What are my rights currently?

On the 31st January 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union. A withdrawal agreement was agreed upon by both parties and thus initiated a transition period from the 1st Feb 2020 until the 31st December 2020. During this transition period British Citizens and their families will have the same right to live, work, claim benefits and access healthcare in the EU during the transition period as they did before.

The UK government secured three separate agreements with the 31 European countries, that accept the freedom of movement. Each agreement provides a strong level of protection for British citizens living or moving to Europe until the end of the transition period. The agreements are as follows;

  1. The Withdrawal Agreement which guarantees British citizens (who are lawfully resident in EU member states) broadly the same rights as they have now. They can continue to live, work and travel in the EU until the end of the transition period. The same would apply to British citizens moving to the EU during the transition period. This is because freedom of movement would continue to apply during this time.
  2. A separate agreement with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – three countries that are not in the EU but have freedom of movement as part of their membership of the European Economic Area (EEA). This agreement mirrors the offer in the Withdrawal Agreement.
  3. An agreement with Switzerland, who is not in the EEA but accepts freedom of movement, which mirrors the offer presented in the Withdrawal Agreement.

What will happen after the transition period ends?

Once the transition period ends all allowances covered by the withdrawal agreement, and the previous automatic right to live and work in the EU will stop. After this time, all British Citizens looking to move to an EU country will need to apply in accordance with that country’s immigration rules.

Suppose you are a UK national who is currently residing within the EU. In that case, you may need to apply for residency status to confirm that you were already resident in the EU country you live in before 31st December 2020, however you will have up to 30th June 2021 to do this. Review the governments Living In Guides to check for any additional requirements for the EU country that you reside in.

Some EU countries may require you and your family to apply for new residency status, and when conferring your new status, issue you with a biometric residence card, similar to those given to other non-EU nationals residing in the EU. This card will allow you to continue with the rights defined in the withdrawal agreement and your right to enter your EU host country. These new residency cards will be available from 1st January 2021.

Will my Non-UK Family Members be able to come back to the UK with me?

Suppose you are a UK National living within an EU-27 country, with a Non-UK National (EU and Non-EU). In that case, you will be able to return to the UK together, provided you can show evidence the relationship began before 31st Jan 2020. They will then need to apply for the Government’s EU Settlement Scheme and will have until 31st March 2022 to do so. After this, there will be slightly more restrictions on Britons living in Europe and their European Families. This will include minimum yearly incomes and meeting the immigration point system. The government legislation on Immigration and Social Security Co-Ordination explains further on the details around returning to live and work in the UK after Brexit.

What about travelling to the EU after the transition period?

The EU has agreed to add the UK to the EU’s list on visa-exempt countries. This will allow the UK nationals to visit the EU visa-free for up to 90 days, as long as the travel is for leisure and not for work. British Nationals will also need to ensure that their passports are valid for at least 6 months after the end of the trip, similar to travel requirements outside of the EU. You will also need valid travel insurance, including health insurance as your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid after the end of the transition period.

What about living and working in Ireland?

British Citizens have the added protection of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK. These will allow British Citizens to obtain many of the same rights and entitlements as an Irish citizen, including;

  • Entering Ireland without a visa
  • Travelling between the UK and Ireland
  • Working without an employment permit
  • Access to the public healthcare system
  • Ability to vote in general elections

These rights were based on a series of bilateral agreements between Ireland and the UK, under the Common Travel Area Agreement which was reconfirmed in May 2019 by both the UK and Irish governments. The Common Travel Area is separate from EU law and continues to apply since the UK left the EU on 31st January 2020.

For further information on potential implications on living and working in Ireland, Post-Brexit, please view our resource for more details.

Need further guidance?

Our expert consultants are happy to answer any and all questions you may have about disruptions caused by the end of the Brexit Transition Period. With operations in both the UK and two other EU27 countries – Ireland and Cyprus, we have a comprehensive understanding of the requirements for a smooth transition. Get in contact with us today in regards to any queries you may have by calling us on +44 (0) 207 060 0835, emailing us at or filling in a contact form below.

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