With the scheduled date of Brexit fast approaching, Sweden's British residents have been advised to get paperwork in order to avoid problems if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.
One task which needs to be finalized before any no-deal Brexit occurs is the transfer of UK driving licences to Swedish ones.
Brits who currently meet the criteria for residence under EU freedom of movement will be able to remain in Sweden for 12 months following any no-deal Brexit due to the so-called 'grace period' offered by the Swedish government. During this period, they will retain many of their current rights and in most respects will be able to continue their lives as they do today, including most importantly the right to live and work in Sweden without requiring residence or work permits, and the right to access healthcare on the same conditions as Swedish citizens.
But for those British citizens who want a Swedish driving licence and don't yet have them, the process for applying will become more complex as soon as the UK leaves the EU. As EU citizens, Brits have the right to have their UK licences exchanged for Swedish ones without taking any test, as long as they are resident in Sweden and have a UK driving licence. They will lose this right if there is a no-deal Brexit.
This means that not only do Brits need to submit their application before October 31st if they want to exchange their licence, but the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) needs to have approved the exchange by this date. That process is typically completed within two weeks.
“A decision to approve the exchange must be made before October 31st. Applications that are not approved by this date will be rejected,” a Transport Agency press spokesperson told The Local by email.
“If the application is complete, it is usually possible to make a decision within one or two weeks. In other words, it is high time to apply for an exchange for those who want to exchange their driving license before October 31st,” she warned.
So what about Brits who miss this deadline?
Third-country citizens can usually use their home country licence for one year after arriving in Sweden before they are required to have a Swedish licence.
“A no-deal Brexit can lead to problems for those who have a British driving licence and have been registered (folkbokförd) in Sweden for more than a year already, because the driving licence will then be invalid upon the day of the British withdrawal. Those who have not exchanged their British driving licence before the withdrawal will then have an unrealistic short time to take a new Swedish driving licence if they have the need to drive in Sweden,” a Transport Agency representative from the Road User Regulations department told The Local by email.
The Swedish govenrment has passed a regulation making an exception to its Driving Licence Act. This means that Brits who have been registered in Sweden for more than one year at the date of a no-deal Brexit may still use their British licence, but only up to March 31st, 2020.
“This date has not been postponed due to the change in deadline,” the Transport Agency representative said.
Sweden's Infrastructure Ministry does however plan to postpone the date and work out a long-term policy for Brits if a no-deal Brexit takes place, the press secretary to Infrastructure Minister Tomas Eneroth told The Local.
“We are planning to suggest a more permanent solution after Brexit and we are currently looking at both mutual acceptance rules and exchange rules. We hope to solve this issue well before March in order to minimize the inconveniences for driving licence holders concerned,” said press secretary Karin Boman Röding.
As for those who have moved or move to Sweden after March 31st, 2019, under the current rules their UK licences will be valid for one year from the date of their registration in Sweden.
Once the UK licence becomes invalid, motorists would need a Swedish licence in order to continue driving in Sweden, and this application process is more complicated than the exchange EU citizens can make.
Find full details on how to get a Swedish driving licence, whether you're an EU citizen or not, in the article below:
Editorial note: An earlier version of this article quoted advice from the British Embassy stating that all Brits would be able to use their UK licences for one year after a no-deal Brexit. This information is outdated, and the current deadline is March 31st 2020. Thanks to Garry Jones and the Brits in Sweden Facebook group.