Sweden has previously said that Brits and their family members will retain many of their current rights during a one-year grace period even if the UK crashes out of the EU without a Brexit deal.
This will happen automatically, but Brits who plan to travel outside of Sweden during this year have been advised to apply for a proof of their rights, in the form of a passport stamp issued by the Migration Agency. This is to ensure that Brits are not delayed at the border, because border police will easily be able to identify them as residents of Sweden.
But with the Brexit deadline fast approaching and applications for the stamp not yet open, many of The Local's readers – who often have to travel abroad for work or to visit family – have asked us what happens if you have to leave Sweden before you can get a stamp but return only after a potential no-deal Brexit.
The Swedish Migration Agency directed us to the country's border police, who said that the passport stamp would make the border check procedure smoother but that they would use other ways of confirming that a British national had the right to reside in Sweden even if the person did not have such a stamp.
“It is in the nature of the matter that it is the most convenient for the individual to have such a proof (…) but as you say, not everyone will have time to get it and perhaps not everyone wants it either,” Jonas Beltrame-Linné, a spokesperson for the Swedish national police, told The Local, adding that more information would be released via the website polisen.se when the future of Britain's relationship with the EU becomes clear.
He said that much remained unclear for now, but said: “For anyone who is still allowed to stay in Sweden without a residence permit, but does not have proof of it in their passport, the Swedish border control will use available records to try to confirm that this person has this right. To facilitate this procedure it would of course be helpful if the person in question has some kind of documentation, for example a previously issued residence card or a certificate from their employer that shows that he or she is resident in Sweden.”
The Local has asked the Danish Migration Agency to confirm how this applies to Brits living in southern Sweden, who would normally fly in and out of Denmark's Copenhagen Airport when travelling abroad. But according to the EU's official guide to residence rights of UK nationals living in the 27 EU member states, information about Sweden's official passport stamp “has been communicated to the Schengen secretariat”.
Applications for the passport stamp will only be available via the Migration Agency website if it becomes clear that there will be a no-deal Brexit, the agency confirmed to The Local last week. If applications do open, the agency expects a turnaround time of approximately one week.
It is only needed if the UK leaves the EU without any deal, an outcome which depends on what happens during the extension of Article 50, with April 12th being the new cliff-edge Brexit date.
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Meanwhile, the European Commission confirmed this week that Brits who are not covered by separate rights offered by member states (for example British nationals who live outside of the EU) would be allowed visa-free travel to EU countries for a period of 90 days in any 180-day period if the UK also grants reciprocal and non-discriminatory visa-free travel to all EU citizens.
According to the Guardian newspaper, the commission released an information notice on Monday saying: “Your passport will be stamped both when you enter the EU and when you leave it, so that this period of 90 days, which is visa-free, can be calculated.”