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PENSION

Impact of a no-deal Brexit on Swedish pension benefits remains uncertain

The Swedish Pensions Agency (Pensionsmyndigheten) has warned both Brits living in Sweden and Swedes in the UK that Brexit may impact their pensions.

Impact of a no-deal Brexit on Swedish pension benefits remains uncertain
A packed House of Commons during Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday. Photo: House of Commons/PA/TT
With the UK currently set to leave the European Union on April 12th – although an extension looks likely – the agency said last week that the uncertainty surrounding Brexit has made it impossible to provide any “detailed information on how pensions will be affected both short and long-term.” 
 
UK state pensions rise with the cost of living, and the current pension agreement between EU countries means these rises apply to people drawing British pensions in other EU countries too. In order for this to continue in the case of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would need to introduce a new pension agreement with Sweden. 
 
This is only an issue if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal. Under the withdrawal agreement previously made between the EU and the UK, but which the British parliament has repeatedly rejected, pensions would be uprated – meaning Brits in the EU would continue to see their UK state pension increased annually.
 
The agency stressed that both Sweden and the UK are “prepared” for a no-deal Brexit and reminded Brits living in Sweden that a number of initiatives have been put in place to accommodate Brits, including a decision by the Swedish Migration Agency (Migrationsverket) to fast-track citizenship applications from UK nationals
 
The Swedish government has also guaranteed a one-year exemption from work and residence permit requirements for Brits already resident in Sweden on the date of a no-deal Brexit, as The Local has previously reported. There's no need to apply for this one-year grace period; the exemption from usual permit laws will apply automatically, but if you plan to travel during that year, you should apply for a passport stamp proving your right of residence.
 
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Although the Pensions Agency’s warning that the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit means it cannot currently provide any concrete information on how the pensions of UK nationals in Sweden might be affected, there was a message of reassurance for Swedish citizens residing in the UK. 
 
“You have the right to receive pensions and benefits that are based on your income regardless of which country you live in,” the agency wrote on its website
 
It added that Swedish citizens in the UK will continue to receive their income-based pension payments “as usual even after Britain leaves the EU.”
 
The agency added, however, that those who have a guaranteed pension (garantipension), a benefit paid to individuals who had little or pension-qualifying income during their working lives, “may be affected” by a no-deal Brexit. The agency said that a number of proposals are being considered that would ensure that pensioners in the UK will continue to receive their guaranteed pension. 
 
For much more about how Sweden is preparing for Brexit, see The Local’s essential no-deal Brexit checklist for the estimated 20,000 Brits living in Sweden.
 
 
 

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READER QUESTIONS

Do ‘self-sufficient’ Brits in Sweden need to buy health insurance?

Several readers have complained to The Local that the UK leaving the European Union means that they are being forced to keep paying for health insurance longer than they would have under EU rules. Sweden's Migration Agency told The Local this was unnecessary.

Do 'self-sufficient' Brits in Sweden need to buy health insurance?

EU citizens who do not work, study or have families in Sweden can still stay in the country longer than three months if they can demonstrate that they are self-supporting. This requires them to have a comprehensive health insurance as well as a guaranteed income from overseas or sufficient savings. 

Once an EU citizen gets registered, or folkbokförd, and obtains a Swedish personal number, they no longer have to pay health insurance.

But several Britons who have post-Brexit residence on the basis of being “self-supporting”, told The Local that they believed that they had to continue paying health insurance premiums of as much as 50,000 kronor a year if they wanted to fulfil the conditions for living in Sweden legally and so qualify for permanent right of residence (permanent uppehållsrätt), or citizenship. 

“As a sixty-one year old person categorised as self-supporting in Sweden, I must pay almost 50,000 kronor per annum for health insurance,” wrote Simon, a Briton living in Värmland. “A yearly increase of 10 percent for the years until I’m eligible for citizenship is unsustainable. If the proposal for an eight-year wait until one can apply for citizenship is implemented, it’s even more so. If Britain remained in the EU such insurance wouldn’t be required.” 

When The Local contacted Sweden’s Migration Agency about this, they said that Simon appeared to be misinformed. 

“People who are registered as living in Sweden (folkbokförd) are covered by the Swedish social insurance system and so as a result do not need to have their own comprehensive health insurance.” 

When Brits categorised as “self-supporting” and living in Sweden with post-Brexit residence status apply for certificates of permanent uppehållsrätt or Swedish citizenship in the coming years, the agency continued, they would not need to have had comprehensive health insurance over this period to qualify. 

“The requirement for comprehensive health insurance is fulfilled because the British citizen is registered as living in Sweden,” the agency wrote. 

We have also contacted the Swedish Tax Agency to ask them for their understanding of the requirements, and will update this article when we receive a response. 

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