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How should Brits in Sweden prepare for Brexit?

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How should Brits in Sweden prepare for Brexit?
Sweden's Minister for EU Affairs and Trade Ann Linde, pictured earlier this year. Photo: Wiktor Nummelin / TT
16:21 CET+01:00
There are currently around 20,000 British citizens living in Sweden without Swedish citizenship. The Local asked Sweden's Minister for European Union Affairs and Trade what people in this group can do to prepare for Brexit and in particular for the possibility of a no deal.

"If there is a withdrawal agreement then you don't have to worry: you can stay for life and you can live as you do now," EU Minister Ann Linde told The Local. "If not, then there will be big changes."

Under the proposed withdrawal agreement, Brits already living in Sweden, as well as those who move there before the end of the transition period on December 30th, 2020, would retain many of their current rights. This would include the right to study in Sweden without paying third country fees, the right to work without a work permit, and the right to healthcare subsidized at the same level as for native Swedes.

There is also the possibility that this transition period could be further extended, and Sweden's Minister for European Union Affairs and Trade said that "for us, the longer the transition period is, the better."

"I really hope that the British parliament will agree to the withdrawal agreement. So if I personally were a Brit living here, I would contact my local [British] MP and tell him or her how important it is that we get the withdrawal agreement," Linde told The Local.

However, she noted that it is still a good idea to be prepared for the possibility of Britain exiting the EU without an agreed deal: a so-called hard or no-deal Brexit. In that case, she said Brits needed to know "what is the difference between being an EU member and a member of a third country, what rights you have".

"When you are from an EU country you have the right to work and social rights and so on. Third country members don't have those rights, so you have to go to the authorities and find out 'can I continue working? What kind of permit do I need?'" she explained. "That is not very easy but if you want to stay that is what you have to do."

Linde also advised Brits to visit the Swedish government's own Brexit homepage, although this is not currently available on the English-language version of the website.

Here are three examples of ways in which Brits in Sweden can prepare for a possible no-deal Brexit:

Residency

At the moment Brits can move to Sweden to live, work, job-hunt and/or study, but after Britain leaves the EU this may become more complicated. While it's unlikely that Brits already living in Sweden would be asked to leave after Brexit, there are currently no guarantees and so it's worth applying for residency or citizenship if you are eligible for it -- and accumulating relevant paperwork beforehand to make this as easy as possible.

As an EU citizen living in Sweden for five continuous years with right of residence, you are eligible to apply for citizenship. If you have lived together with a Swedish citizen for two years, and lived in Sweden for a total of three years, you are also eligible to apply.

Driving licences

If your driving licence was issued by, and is still valid in, an EEA country, you can use it in Sweden for as long as it's valid. But licences issued outside the EEA are not valid if the licence holder has been registered in Sweden for more than a year, and it's not clear if the UK would enter into a new agreement regarding licences. If driving is essential to your daily life in Sweden, it's worth considering exchanging your licence for a Swedish one, which costs 250 kronor.

FOR MEMBERS: Everything you need to know about Swedish driving licences

Professional qualifications

The European Commission has said that, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, Brexit does not affect decisions made pre-Brexit by EU27 countries recognizing UK qualifications under the general EU directive on the recognition of professional qualifications (Directive 2005/36/EC). For details of which qualifications are covered, click here. So if you have a UK qualification covered by that Directive and you need to be able to use it, apply to get it recognized before March 30th 2019.

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