EXPLAINED: What Brits need to know about Sweden’s new post-Brexit bill

On November 11th, Sweden's parliament voted in favour of a key post-Brexit rights bill which would see British citizens and their families granted a new residence status. The Local looks over what's included.

EXPLAINED: What Brits need to know about Sweden's new post-Brexit bill
As of December 1st, Brits should be able to apply for a new residence status if already living legally in Sweden. File photo: Bench Accounting/Unsplash

What's happening?

On Wednesday, the Swedish parliament voted in favour of a bill meant to protect British residents' right to stay in Sweden after 2020.

This was the last stage of the legal process before this becomes law, and it is now set to come into effect from December 1st.

What are the proposals?

After the UK left the EU on February 1st, 2020, it entered a so-called transition period during which UK nationals retained the same rights as before to move to, live in, and work in Sweden. This transition period is scheduled to end on December 31st, 2020, after which EU law will no longer apply to Brits.

These proposals regulate what will apply to Brits in Sweden after that. The government has proposed that British citizens who have moved to Sweden before the end of the transition period should be required to apply to the Swedish Migration Agency for a new residence status, granting them many of the rights they currently enjoy as EU citizens. You can read more about the new status on the Migration Agency website.

That includes the right to work and access healthcare, for example, under the same rules as EU citizens. The government also proposes that the Migration Agency issue documents to cross-border workers (for example, those Brits who are working in southern Sweden but commuting from their home in Denmark). 

People walk past a Migrationsverket office. Photo: Janerik Henriksson / TT

What will I have to do to get my residence status?

Under the new law, British citizens will need to apply to the Migration Agency for the residence status, which would be in the same form as a residence permit card. This is different from countries which have chosen a registration model, meaning Brits already living in the country simply need to inform authorities of their residence.

Depending on whether you have been in Sweden for less than or more than five years, you will be granted either temporary or permanent residence. It would be free to make the application.

To prove you are legally resident, you do not need to have a personal number; the Swedish Migration Agency has previously told The Local you can use “any type of documentation”.

This could be proof of having paid rent, proof of the date you travelled into Sweden, or a job contract, although the Swedish personal number (a social security number) is the easiest way to prove your residence. Brits who arrived in Sweden as job-seekers might have registered with the Public Employment Agency and received a coordination number.

In order to be legally resident, you must meet one of the following categories: being employed or self-employed in Sweden; job-seeking (for up to six months); be a family member of another person who is legally resident (such as a non-British EU citizen, Swedish citizen, or work permit holder); have sufficient assets and health insurance to provide for yourself; or have lived legally in Sweden for at least five years, in which case you no longer need to meet any of the other requirements to continue to have right of residence.

You do not need to be physically in Sweden at the end of the transition period as long as you meet the criteria for being legally resident; welcome news perhaps to anyone whose Christmas or travel plans are uncertain due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

When does the law come into effect?

The proposals are set to come into effect on December 1st, 2020.

Although the transition period ends on December 31st, that would not be the deadline for Brits to apply for their new residence status. The government proposed a ten-month application period, meaning Brits would have up until the end of September 2021 to apply.

What if I want to apply for Swedish citizenship, will the new residence status 'restart the clock'?

To apply for Swedish citizenship, foreign nationals must have been living in Sweden for five years, or three years if they are living with a Swedish spouse or partner and have been doing so for at least two years.

Usually, a permanent residence status is a prerequisite for non-EU citizens to apply for citizenship.

Under the proposals, there would be an exemption for British citizens who moved to Sweden before the end of the transition period. For the purposes of applying for citizenship, the post-Brexit residence status would be considered equivalent to permanent residence status.

What if I want to move to Sweden after December 31st, 2020?

In that case, the same rules would apply for Brits as currently apply for other non-EU citizens, barring any future law changes.

That means you would need to apply for and receive a residence permit (for example, a work permit or a permit to join a family member in Sweden) in order to be able to move to Sweden.

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Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

People who have more than one citizenship often hold multiple passports, so what does this mean for crossing borders? Here's what you should know.

Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

For many readers of The Local, gaining citizenship of the country where they live helps them to feel more settled – but there are also travel benefits, including avoiding the long ‘non EU’ queue when coming back into the Schengen zone.

But this week the problems associated with travelling while holding dual citizenship came to light, leaving many people wondering what they should know when they are entering different countries.

Put simply – which passport should you use? And do you have to carry both with you?

Financial Times journalist Chris Giles tweeted that the UK Border Force “detained” his dual-national daughter while she was travelling from France into the UK with her German passport – and not her British one. 

He went on to say that UK border guards released his daughter. According to Giles, the border staff said she should have had both passports with her “and asked why she was travelling on her German one”.

The rules on dual-nationality have not changed, but now that the UK is not in the EU, there are strict rules on non-Brits who enter the country (and vice-versa) which has made it trickier for travel.

For instance, UK nationals receive a stamp in their passport when entering Schengen member states because they are only allowed to stay up to 90 days within an 180 period (unless they have a visa or residency card).

READ ALSO: Brexit: EU asks border police not to stamp passports of British residents 

People coming from the EU to the UK can generally visit as a tourist for up to six months without a visa – but are not allowed to carry out any work while there.

So which passport should you show?

The first thing to be aware of is there are no specific rules on travelling with more than one passport. 

Travellers can choose to use whichever passport they prefer when going to a country. 

But one thing to note is that it’s worth using the passport that is best suited to your destination when travelling there. Each country has its own set of immigration and visa rules that you’ll need to research closely.

It could be that one passport is better suited for your trip – and you may be able to avoid visa requirements.  

READ ALSO: How powerful is the German passport?

In the case of the UK, many people are still getting to grips with the different rules that apply because it’s not in the EU anymore.

A question submitted to the Secretary of State for the Home Department in September 2021 provided some insight into this issue. 

The question from Labour’s Paul Blomfield asked what steps the UK government “is taking to enable dual UK and EU citizens to travel to the UK on an EU member state passport without having to further prove their UK citizenship?”

The Conservatives Kevin Foster said: “Border Force Officers examine all arriving passengers to establish whether they are British citizens, whether they require leave to enter or if they are exempt from immigration control.

“Where the passenger claims to be British, but does not hold any evidence of British citizenship, the officer will conduct all relevant checks to satisfy themselves the passenger is British.

Border control at Hamburg airport.

Border control at Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

“When dual nationals who are eligible to use e-gates travel to the UK, they will enter via the e-gates without being examined by an immigration officer.

“We recommend all dual nationals, including EU citizens, travel on their British passport or with evidence or their British citizenship to minimise any potential delay at the border or when commencing their journey.”

The Local contacted the UK Home Office to ask if there was any official advice. 

A spokesman said: “An individual can present whichever passport they desire to enter the UK, however they will be subject to the entry requirements associated with the nationality of the passport they present.”

They said anyone who is looking for more information should check out guidance on entering the UK and on dual nationality.

In short, if you present a German passport on entry to the UK you will be treated the same as any other German citizen – which can include being quizzed about your reasons for visiting the UK – as border guards have no way of knowing that you are a dual-national. 

Do I have to carry both passports?

There’s no rule requiring you to have both passports, but you won’t get the benefits of a British passport (entry into the UK without questions) if you don’t show it.

Likewise if you are a French-British dual national and you enter France on your UK passport, you will need to use the non-EU queue and may have your passport stamped.

Should I think about anything else?

An important thing to remember is that if you apply for a visa and register your passport details, the same passport has to be used to enter the country. 

It could also make sense to travel with both passports, just in case. 

However, note that some countries – like the US – require that US nationals use a US passport to enter and leave the States even if they are dual nationals. 

In general, it’s best to use the same passport you entered a country with to depart.

The rules and systems are different depending on the country. But many countries require people to show their passport when leaving – and they will either stamp or scan the passport – this is how authorities know that a foreign visitor hasn’t overstayed their time in the country. 

So if your passport is checked as you leave the UK, you should show the one you arrived with, just to ensure there is a record of you arriving and leaving.

However as you enter France/Germany/other EU destination, you can show your EU passport in order to maximise the travel benefits of freedom of movement.