EXPLAINED: How can Brits apply for residency in Sweden post-Brexit?

Deal or no deal, the transition period following the UK's departure from the European Union will probably come to an end on December 31st. Here's what Brits need to do if they want to stay in Sweden.

EXPLAINED: How can Brits apply for residency in Sweden post-Brexit?
A sign at the offices of Migrationsverket in Solna, Stockholm. Brits can apply online. Photo: Marcus Ericsson/TT

The end of the transition arrangement will mean that British people living in Sweden will have to apply for residency status under the new arrangements. 

For Brits in Sweden, the Swedish government on November 11th passed a bill unilaterally giving British citizens and their families many of the rights that they used to have as citizens of the European Union. 

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). 
Here's what you need to know in order to exercise these rights. 

When can I apply for residency status? 

On Tuesday, December 1st, both online and downloadable forms will be posted to this web page which British citizens can use to apply for residency status. 

What do I need to send with my application? 

You will need to send: 

  • A copy of your passport or national ID card.
  • Documents that show that you had a right of residence before 31 December 2020 and that you still have it thereafter. 

Do I need to be in Sweden to apply? 

No you don't. You only only need to fulfil the criteria. You can apply from the UK, or a third country. 

What documents are sufficient to prove my right of residency? 

If you do not already have permanent residency and a residence card issued by the Swedish Migration Agency, you will need: 

  • a certificate of employment if you are an employee
  • a letter of admission to an educational programme if you are a student
  • a corporate tax certificate and registration certificate for the company if you are a sole proprietor
  • a statement of pension benefits if you are a pensioner
  • a bank statement if you plan on living off your capital

Other possible ways of proving a right of residency will be detailed on the form when it is published. 

File photo: Bench Accounting/Unsplash


What if I already have permanent residency? 

If you have previously applied for and received a document from the Migration Agency confirming that you have permanent residency, then you only need to send in a copy of your passport or national ID card.

This doesn't apply, however, if you have lived for more than five years in Sweden and believe you have the right of permanent residency under the EU law which automatically grants permanent residency to those who have lived in a country for more than five years. 

If you have never confirmed this right with the agency, you need to apply for residency after December 1st like everyone else. 

If you have 'permanent uppehållstillstånd' (i.e. the Swedish national immigration status, independent of EU law) you do not need not apply at all.

How do I apply for my family to stay in Sweden with me?

 Family members of British citizens are also eligible to apply for this status, including for example children and partners. You can apply for them to stay in the same form. You will need:  

  • copies of every family member’s passport or national ID card
  • documents that show the family relationship, for example a marriage certificate if you are spouses or a corresponding document if you are registered partners
  • joint accounts, insurance policies, bills or the like if you are cohabiting without being married or registered partners
  • birth certificates for children
  • adoption documents if the child is adopted
  • documents that show that any children over the age of 21 are dependent on the parent for their means of support
  • other documents that show that you are related to each other if you are not parents and children
  • an authorisation if you are a representative for all family members who are over 18.
Who counts as a family member? 
To count as a family member (and thus get residency because of your relationship to a British citizen, even if you yourself don't fulfil criteria for Swedish residency) you need to be a husband, wife, registered or live-in partner, or an unmarried child who is under the age of 21. 
What happens if my residency isn't processed by December 31st? 
Nothing. As long as you have sent in the application, and have received a certificate saying that you have submitted an application, you will retain the same rights you had as a European Union citizen and can continue to live and work in Sweden until your residency application is accepted or rejected. 
How long will it take for my residency to be processed? 
The processing won't even start until next January, so expect it to take months at the very least. 
When do I lose my right to live in Sweden? 
If you fail to even apply for residency, you will lose your right to live in Sweden on September 30th, 2021. But if you apply before that date, you can stay until your application has been processed and a decision made. 
It might be possible to apply after that date, but you will need to give a good reason why you didn't apply in time. 
If you have permanent residency, you can continue to work in Sweden even after this date. If you have temporary residency, you will need to apply for a work permit. 
Can family members come to Sweden even after the transition period ends? 
Yes. If you are under 21 and have a parent in Sweden, or are over 21 and financially dependent on a family member in Sweden, you can still apply for residency after the end of the transition period. You must apply no later than three months after you arrive in Sweden.
Can babies born or adopted after the transition period also become residents? 
Yes, so long as both parents are British citizens, or one is British and the other is a Swedish citizen. If only one of the parents is a British citizen, they must have sole or joint custody of the child. 
What if I'm a British citizen commuting to work in Sweden? 
From December 1st, there will be an application form here for those needing a card showing their status as a cross-border worker. 
Together with your application, you need to send proof that you: 
  • live in another country, such as a housing contract or equivalent civic registration
  • work or are a sole proprietor in Sweden, which is verified in the same way as in an application for residence status
  • lived in another country and worked in Sweden at the end of the transition period
  • and a copy of your passport or national ID card.
Family members of British citizens are also eligible to apply for this status.



Member comments

  1. Please can someone advise me which annual health insurance is acceptable to the Skatteverket when starting the process of applying for a personnummer? I am a British citizen. Thank you.

  2. If you have an S1 then there is no need to obtain annual health insurance. Otherwise you may need private insurance for SEK10m – and this is difficult – I tried without success. After days of reading web pages and email exchanges with migrationsverket and skatteverket I managed to apply for a PN and residence in the space of a couple of hours today thanks to help from staff in MV and SV.

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For members


How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.

The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members. 

But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?

What is EU long-term residence?

Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level. 

This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge. 

The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions. 

What does the European Commission want to change?

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it. 

Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move. 

This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes. 

All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.

Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.

READ ALSO: Why it may get easier for non-EU citizens to move to another European Union country

EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.

Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications. 

The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.

A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits. 

The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country. 

Why make these changes?

Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says. 

Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.

Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.

READ ALSO: Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine. 

On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February. 

Will these measures also apply to British citizens?

These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit. 

The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.

As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status. 

These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.

What happens next?

The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped. 

In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people?

EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”. 

National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.