What does Brexit mean for the citizens who are particularly affected?


This page contains information on what Brexit will mean for particularly affected citizens, namely Swedish and other European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom and UK citizens living in Sweden or another EU Member State.

The handling of citizens’ rights in the orderly scenario under the withdrawal agreement

If the UK leaves the EU on the basis of the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement, which is currently subject to approval processes, citizens’ rights will be regulated by the provisions contained in the agreement.

The Withdrawal Agreement’s chapter on citizens means that their situation changes very little. The agreement covers all of the issues that concern citizens in their everyday lives, i.e. residence rights and social security benefits, such as social insurance, health and medical care, pensions, unemployment insurance, student grants and various forms of family benefits. Recognition of certificates of education and other professional qualifications is also covered.

Under the agreement, Swedish and other EU citizens can continue to live, work, study and retire in the UK. Even those who have recently moved to the UK are covered, as well as those who move there before the end of 2020, when the transition period is due to end. Equivalent provisions apply to UK citizens in Sweden.   

Contingency planning

Handling the particularly affected citizens is a clear part of the contingency planning for a no-deal withdrawal being conducted at the Government Offices, in close cooperation with the relevant government agencies.

Contingency planning to handle a no-deal

What will a no-deal withdrawal mean for Swedish citizens resident in the United Kingdom?

For Swedish and other EU citizens resident in the UK, the terms will primarily be determined by decisions taken by the UK. Those who are resident in the country prior to the withdrawal date will be allowed to remain provided that they apply for the new permanent residence permit, called ‘settled status’, before 31 December 2020. More information about this is available on the UK Government website and the Embassy of Sweden in London website (see the links to the right).

Regarding the overall conditions for this group, the UK Government has made clear commitments, including in a policy paper from 6 December 2018. The new UK Government has confirmed that these commitments still apply. The Swedish Government is following developments closely.

Policy paper on citizens’ rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit, 6 December 2018, on the UK Government's website

Efforts to make it easier for this group are also under way in Sweden. The coordination of social protection systems in the EU entitles certain Swedish citizens in the UK to a number of Swedish benefits. This includes child allowance, parental benefits and the guarantee pension. The Government has prepared measures that, during a transition period, will allow the continued payment of these benefits to this group. Within the framework of these measures, it will also be possible to combine periods of work or residency in the UK and Sweden as the basis for an application for benefits. Moreover, in certain cases it will be possible to receive compensation for costs for health care received in the UK. The transition period is intended to last for six months, beginning the month after the withdrawal date.

Through a now adopted EU regulation, it will also be possible to add periods of work or residence in the UK and Sweden, as a basis for an application for benefit.

What will a no-deal withdrawal mean for UK citizens resident in Sweden?

For those UK nationals who are in Sweden with right of residence under EU law, the Government has adopted regulatory amendments temporarily exempting this group from the requirements concerning residence and work permits should there be a no-deal withdrawal. During this period, they can apply for a residence permit and at the same time continue to live, study and work in Sweden. They will also be given access to social security, health and medical care, and education on similar terms as today. This exemption is intended to apply for one year.

In addition, proposals have been presented concerning provisions on residence permits for UK nationals and their family members currently living and working in Sweden under the EU rules on right of residence. The aim is to ensure that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, these individuals have the right to stay in Sweden under pretty much the same terms as currently apply for them and other EU citizens.

European Commission’s fact sheet for citizens if no agreement is reached