For members


Brexit calendar: These are the future key dates for Brits in Sweden

The key Brexit date is here, but for British people in Sweden, there are some other important dates to be aware of in the coming months.

Brexit calendar: These are the future key dates for Brits in Sweden
Here are the key dates to keep track of. Photo: vectors icon/Pexels and Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash (edited by The Local)

December 31st, 2020

The transition period that has been in place since Britain left the EU on January 31st, 2020 – and kept most things the same – comes to an end on December 31st.

This date marks the last day that British nationals can take advantage of freedom of movement. They must be resident in Sweden if they wish to take advantage of the more generous provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, which guarantees right to residency, work and life-long health cover.

But even if they are resident in Sweden by the end of the year, moving elsewhere in Europe after December 31st won't be as easy because onward freedom of movement comes to an end at the stroke of midnight.

Current European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) issued by the UK are only valid until December 31st. S1 holders and students living in Sweden are encouraged to apply for a new EHIC card. It should state on the card that it is valid in Sweden. People who already have a European card issued by their host country do not need to renew it.

A ban on commercial flights from the UK to Sweden is set to expire on December 31st, but please note below that as of January 1st, you may have to show a negative coronavirus test before entering the country.

January 1st, 2021

This is the big one, the first day that the UK emerges into the world without any formal ties to the EU, apart from the trade deal that was agreed on at the 11th hour.

It marks a lot of changes for British tourists, who will have to follow new rules if they want to visit Sweden. You can read more about what applies to visits to Sweden here (these rules apply to visitors, not to British people who are already resident in Sweden).

January 1st also marks the day when UK passports will no longer be accepted for travel within the EU if they have less than six months until their expiry date – so check your passport and renew if necessary.

From January 1st, all but Swedish nationals and people who transport goods will have to show a negative coronavirus test, taken at the most 72 hours before arriving in Sweden. You can read more here.

From January 1st, 2021

British driving licences will still be valid in Sweden after the transition period ends on December 31st, regardless of whether or not the holder already lives in Sweden. Brits who live in Sweden will also be able to continue using their licence in Sweden, even if they have been living in Sweden for more than a year (normally non-EEA licences will only remain valid for up to a year after you've registered as a Swedish resident).

It is worth noting that UK licences are connected to a UK address, so Brits may still need to exchange them if they decide to live in Sweden in the long term. It will not be immediately possible after January 1st to simply swap out your licence without having to sit a driving licence test again (which most non-EEA licence holders have to do), but the Swedish government has told The Local that it is working on a solution for this.

“The goal is that a solution will be in place by July 1st, 2021. What the solution will look like is not yet clear,” a spokesperson for the transport ministry told The Local in November.

January 21st, 2021

A temporary entry ban on people travelling from the UK – imposed due to a new strain of coronavirus detected in the UK at the end of 2020 – is set to expire on January 21st. Swedish citizens and other people travelling from the UK who live and work in Sweden are exempt, so they can still travel freely between the countries. But please note that non-Swedish nationals will be required to show a negative coronavirus test.

March 31st, 2021

Keeping track of all the various travel restrictions is no easy feat, but there's also a separate entry ban for non-EU countries which will also apply to Brits in the new year, after the post-Brexit transition period ends. This is currently in place until March 31st, but Brits who are entitled to residence status in Sweden will be exempt.

September 30th, 2021

Brits who wish to apply for a new residence status to protect their long-term right to stay in Sweden post-Brexit have been able to do so since December 1st.

British citizens who need to apply for a new residence status should fill out one of those forms, and send in a copy of their passport or national ID card, and documents that show that you have the right of residence in Sweden. You can read more here, and see what documents you need to show the Migration Agency here.

The application must be submitted before September 30th, 2021.

October 1st, 2021

This marks the date when EU national identity cards will no longer be valid to enter the UK. This doesn't directly affect British people, but if you are travelling to the UK with a Swedish friend or family member who doesn't have settled status in the UK, remind them that they will need a passport after this date and not a national ID card.

March 2022

This is the final date when British nationals can move back to the UK with a European partner or spouse without them having to meet tough new criteria on income, skills and English language level.

After this date any EU citizen must meet strict immigration criteria including a minimum income level – and having a British spouse will not affect this.

Have we missed any key dates? Please email [email protected]

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Brexit really does mean that Britons are no longer EU citizens. Claudia Delpero looks at whether there's any other way they can keep their rights.

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Britons lost EU citizenship when the UK left the EU, on 1st February 2020. 

It is the first time the EU’s top court has rules on the matter, after a number of legal cases challenged this specific Brexit outcome. The decision also sets a precedent should other countries decide to leave the bloc in the future. 

What has the EU Court decided?

The Court of Justice decided on a case brought by a British woman living in France.

Before Brexit, she could vote and stand as a candidate in her town of residence, Thoux. But after the UK withdrawal from the EU, she was removed from the electoral roll and excluded from the municipal elections that took place in March 2020, during the transition period.  

As the mayor refused her appeal to restore the registration, she took the case to the regional court in Auch, which agreed to request an interpretation of the rules to the EU top court. 

Julien Fouchet, the barrister supporting her and several other cases on the EU citizenship of British nationals, argued that the loss of EU citizenship and voting rights was disproportionate. It would also be contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, given that the woman also lost her voting rights in the UK, having lived abroad for more than 15 years.

Alice Bouillez, who has lived in France since 1984 and is married to a French national, could have applied for French citizenship, but did not do so because she said “this was not necessary” before Brexit and, as a former UK official, she had taken an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

On Thursday the Court of Justice announced the decision about her case. The court ruled that the “possession of the nationality of a member state is an essential condition for a person to be able to acquire and retain the status of citizen of the Union and to benefit fully from the rights attaching to that status.”

The court therefore confirmed that British nationals automatically lost their EU citizenship as a result of Brexit and, as a consequence, Britons also lost their voting and electoral rights in municipal elections in the EU (unless the country where they live set different rules). 

What is EU citizenship?

EU citizenship was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht of 1992, when borders were opening and the bloc was integrating economically after the end of the Cold War. 

Under the treaty, every person holding the nationality of an EU member state is a citizen of the Union. EU citizenship is additional and does not replace nationality, the treaty specifies. But this creates the first form of a transnational citizenship that grants rights across borders.

EU citizens have the right to access each other’s territory, job market and services under the principle of non-discrimination. If they are economically active, they have the right to reside in other EU states and be joined by family members, access healthcare at the same conditions of nationals (for emergency treatment also when travelling temporarily), obtain social security benefits and see their professional qualifications recognised.

Beyond free movement, at the core of EU citizenship there are also political rights, such as participating in the European Parliament election, voting and standing as candidates in municipal elections when living in other EU countries, receiving consular protection from other EU states outside the EU, and taking part in European Citizens’ Initiatives asking to the EU to legislate on certain matters. 

Which EU citizenship rights have Britons lost with Brexit? 

For British citizens who were living in the EU before Brexit, the Withdrawal Agreement protects some of these rights. Britons covered by deal have their residence, access to work and education, healthcare, social security and qualifications secured, but only in the country where they were living before Brexit.

But the right to free movement in other EU states, consular protection in third countries, and the political rights attached to EU citizenship were lost, the Court confirmed. 

For British citizens in the UK, the trade and cooperation agreement has preserved some social security rights and, in theory, the possibility to have professional qualifications recognized when moving to an EU country. These provisions however lack details and may take a long time before they work in practice. 

As the “European Union” no longer features on British passports, the possibility to access EU lanes at airports to skip passport control queues has also vanished. 

“The loss of those treasured rights has been clear to those of us living in the EU from the early days of Brexit. But for Brits in the UK, the realities of life outside the EU, and the consequences of Brexit, are only just dawning. Long queues at the borders, roaming charges, obstacles to working abroad, etc. are the new reality,” said Sue Wilson, Chair of the group Remain in Spain. 

While she said the court’s decision was “no real surprise,” she argued that “this is not the Brexit the public were promised, or that the majority voted for.”

Can British citizens get some of these rights back?

Julien Fouchet was disappointed at the Court decision and promised to continue the legal fight, bringing the case at the European Court of Human Rights (which is not an EU institution). 

Other two cases on the matter of EU citizenship for British nationals are still pending at the Court of Justice of the EU. One of them aims to determine whether EU citizenship is a “fundamental status” that cannot be removed but Thursday’s decision could have already provided the answer.

Another option to reconsider some of the rights is the renegotiation of EU-UK trade agreement, when it will be reviewed in 2025. 

Meanwhile, the EU is revising the rules for non-EU citizens living in EU countries on a long-term basis, making it easier to move across borders. 

Applying for citizenship is so far the only option to regain voting rights, although not all EU countries allow dual nationality. 

Sue Wilson, who has long campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, said: “There is only one way to restore the loss of our rights, and that’s to rejoin the single market, rejoin the customs union, and eventually, rejoin the European Union… Until that day, we will continue to be second class citizens whose rights have been diminished for the sake of an ideology.”