EXPLAINED: How can Brits in Sweden retain all their rights post-Brexit?

If you’re a British citizen who was living in Sweden before December 31st 2020, you might need to take steps to continue living in your adopted country, and retain your rights and access to services.

EXPLAINED: How can Brits in Sweden retain all their rights post-Brexit?

This guide, presented in partnership with the UK Government, tells you what you need to do in four crucial areas: residency, healthcare, travel and using your driving licence in Sweden.

Get the official UK government advice on living in Sweden now that the transition period has ended


In November 2020, 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. Those with permanent residency under Swedish national law (i.e. a PUT) do not need to apply, but may do so.

The bill said that if you were legally resident in Sweden before 1 January 2021, your rights will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. However, If you were here under EU law you must apply for the new residency permit (uppehållsstatus) by 30 September 2021 to secure your rights and access to services.

The UK Ambassador in Sweden, Judith Gough, states, “I urge all British citizens in Sweden to check their residence status now, and apply for a new permit, if needed. The new status introduced by the Swedish Government will allow British citizens living in Sweden under EU rules to protect and maintain their rights”.

Before you apply, ensure you carefully read the guidance on supporting documents.

You should also read the Swedish Migration Agency’s guidance on residency for UK nationals in Sweden, as well as its guidance on the rights of third country national family members.

You do not need to be physically present in Sweden at the time of application, as long as you can prove you had right of residence before December 31st 2020, and continue to live here

One advantage of applying for Swedish residency earlier rather than later is that once your application is submitted, you will receive a letter of confirmation, which can be used to prove your right to live in Sweden – for example if returning to the country after travelling overseas.

During the period that British applicants are waiting on a residency decision, they have the same rights as EU citizens and can continue to live and work in Sweden, as long as they moved here before December 31st.

Once an application has been approved, it is necessary to visit one of the Migration Agency’s Service Centres to have fingerprints and a photo taken before the residence card can be issued.

Check out the UK Government’s website to find out how you can stay in Sweden as a UK National

Dramatic sky over old town of Stockholm, Sweden.


You have to be registered as a Swedish resident to access Swedish state healthcare. Even then, you may still have to pay for some medical care.

There are three ways UK nationals usually access the Swedish healthcare system:

  • register as a resident and then register for healthcare
  • use a European health insurance card (EHIC) or a UK global health insurance card (GHIC) for temporary stays
  • register a UK-issued S1 form with one of the insurance funds

Anyone registered as a resident in Sweden can register for state healthcare. This applies if you’re employed, self-employed or not working.

You can also register your dependants for healthcare at the same time as you.

You may be entitled to a Swedish EHIC for travel, including visits to the UK, and you might have the right to apply for a UK S1 if you start drawing a UK state pension.

If you’ve been sent to work temporarily in Sweden by a UK company as a “posted” or “detached” worker, and you’re not a registered resident, you can access healthcare in Sweden using an EHIC, GHIC or S1 form.

First, however, your employer must register you at the Swedish Work Environment Authority.

You must then register your S1 form with the Swedish tax authority (Skatteverket) and the social insurance agency (Försäkringskassan)


You live in an EU country, so crossing borders is no big deal, right? Now that the UK has left the EU and free movement no longer applies, you’ll face some new rules on travel within Europe in 2021. Doing your homework now could save you a lot of trouble later.

From this year on, you need six months left on your passport to travel within Europe (be aware that any extra months you had added to your passport’s validity when renewing it early last time won’t count towards this).

You can check your passport’s validity here to know for sure if you need to renew it before booking a trip. This new rule applies to children’s passports, as well as adults, and applies for travel to most European countries.

Driving licence validity

You can drive in Sweden on your UK driving licence. If you’re living in Sweden, check the government website for information on driving license exchange.

Keeping Informed

You can find out more information by visiting the Living in Sweden guide on GOV.UK, sign up for emails with the latest official UK government updates about these topics in Sweden. The Embassy in Sweden regularly engages with British community groups, and shares information on their social media pages.

You can find regular updates, answers to frequently asked questions and more information on the British Embassy Facebook page.

Get all the latest official guidance for UK nationals in Sweden on these topics and more by visiting the UK government’s Living in Sweden web page.

Member comments

  1. People following this advice are likely to be pleased with the award of a residency card from Migrationsverket. They seem to do a great job and the process goes smoothly. After a while you then learn that being resident does not put you on the “Population Register”. It is the job of Skatteverket to do that under a different process. Obtaining healthcare as described in this article is not so simple. The S1 form issued by NHS in the UK is only given to those already drawing a state pension. EHIC/GHIC are correctly described for a travelling visit less than 90 days or for students. That leaves the rest of us who have to sign up to Private Comprehensive Health Insurance. Swedish insurance companies do not provide such insurance so you end up with one of the Global companies who will give you the level of coverage required for upwards of £3000/year. Only when you have that cover can you hope that Skatteverket will put you on the register so you can get healthcare, although that is not a given either. Not being on the Population Register may also affect your ability to get a bank account (Bank ID), other local services and so on. In short, Residency is only part of the steps needed to live normally in Sweden and the rules of Migrationsverket and Skatteverket are not the same, nor do they seemingly work in a connected manner.

    1. What is your source for stating the S-1 is only available to those already drawing a state pension? Thank you

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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.