How to escape Brexit and get citizenship in Sweden

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How to escape Brexit and get citizenship in Sweden
Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel (far left) participate in a National Day ceremony welcoming Sweden's new citizens. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/SCANPIX/TT

Around 20,000 British citizens currently live in Sweden but do not hold Swedish citizenship. If you're one of them, here's a guide on how to apply for Swedish citizenship before Britain leaves the EU.


Sweden has very different rules on residency and citizenship depending on whether you're from an EU or non-EU country. 

This means that for Brits in Sweden who want to retain their status as an EU citizen after Brexit, or who simply want to guarantee their right to continue living in the country in the event of a no-deal Brexit, applying for permanent residency or citizenship beforehand could be a wise idea.

After Britain officially leaves the EU in March 2019, a two-year transition period will begin. During that time, until the end of 2020, British citizens will still have the right to move to another EU country or to continue living and working there (and the same applies for EU citizens hoping to move to the UK).

Under current plans for a withdrawal agreement, citizens' rights are also ring-fenced after the UK leaves the EU, meaning Brits in Sweden would retain their current rights. But in the event of a no-deal Brexit, this isn't certain, and many Brits in the EU (including Sweden) have chosen to apply for permanent residency or citizenship as an insurance policy.

If you want to do the same, here's how:

Applying for citizenship as an EU citizen in Sweden

The rules for becoming a naturalized Swede are not as complicated as they may seem, though there are a few important points to understand. For EU citizens there are two scenarios to be aware of.

The first is that as an EU citizen living in Sweden for five continuous years with right of residence, you are eligible to apply for citizenship. EU citizens automatically have right of residence if you are studying, have a job or the means to support yourself.

The second is that as an EU citizen who has lived together with a Swedish citizen for two years, and who has lived in Sweden for a total of three years, you are also eligible to apply.

An automated test (in Swedish) can be filled in here to see if you meet those requirements. If you do, then a citizenship application can be filled out online here, and a fee of 1,500 kronor paid for processing.

Unlike in many other countries there are no language requirements.

Applying for permanent residency as an EU citizen in Sweden

If you have fulfilled the condition of living in Sweden for five years but do not want to become a Swedish citizen, you can apply for permanent residency.

It is also possible to apply for a permanent residence permit if you're not yet eligible for citizenship, or if you wish to move to Sweden but do not have the right of residence (ie you do not have fixed plans to work, study or are able to support yourself in the country), as long as you are an EU citizen with a family member in the country who you wish to live with.

In that case, if you've lived together in your country of origin for at least two years, Sweden's Migration Agency says you "normally receive a permanent residence permit" – provided you apply "as soon as possible after your relative moved to Sweden". Applying long after your relative moved or becoming dependent on each other after the move means "it is normally not possible" to obtain the permit, however.

Applications are filled out online, and are free of charge for all EU citizens. The application can be found here. If a permanent residence permit is not granted, a two-year temporary residence permit may be issued instead.

It is worth noting that despite the name, this permanent residence permit can still be withdrawn if you leave Sweden without notifying the Migration Agency. A person with the permit can retain it for up to two years however if the agency is notified about the move abroad. The Local has contacted the Swedish Migration Agency for confirmation that permanent residency would remain valid for British citizens after Britain's exit from the EU.

A certificate confirming that permanent right of residence can be issued for no fee upon request by filling out the form "intyg om permanent uppehållsrätt", found here. If you have right of residence as a family member of an EU citizen and have lived together with a close relative in Sweden for at least five years, then you may also meet the criteria for permanent right of residence.


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