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.

Member comments

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


‘Votes for life’: Brits in Europe given boost as new rules finally published

British citizens living in Europe who had lost their electoral rights in the UK because they lived abroad for more than 15 years should be able to vote in the next general election, after the British government finally published new rules on registration and voting.

'Votes for life': Brits in Europe given boost as new rules finally published

In April 2022, the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections for British citizens abroad became law.

The new law removed the rule by which Britons lost their voting rights in the UK if they lived abroad for more than 15 years. But the way new measures could be applied in practice – in other words details for how Britons could actually register to vote – still had to be defined.

On Wednesday new legislation was published that clarifies these important details. Now they need to be approved by parliament to allow Britons to vote in the next general election, that will be held before December 2024.

Fiona Godfrey, co-chair of the British in Europe citizens rights coalition said: “We are delighted that the government has made good on its promise to legislate on the voting rights of UK citizens overseas.

“We hope and expect that the draft secondary legislation will be adopted quickly and it looks like this will be in time for us to register and vote at the next UK general election. Voting is a citizenship right, not a privilege, and we intend to use it.

“This has been a campaign of decades and we wouldn’t have got this far without the hard work and tenacity of the late Harry Shindler. Three million future British voters overseas owe a huge debt to him,” she added.

Under the 2022 law, Britons living abroad will have to prove they previously resided in the UK to be able to vote.

This may not be related to having been registered on the UK electoral roll, but could be determined with an automated match against Department of Work and Pensions records or documents provided by the applicant (for instance Council tax or utilities bills) or checks on local records.

If that is not possible, the Electoral Registration Officer may request a signed declaration from a qualified elector.

To register as overseas electors, Brits abroad will have to provide the same information as ordinary electors, as well as their current address, their British passport details and, if they have changed name since they were last registered in the UK, explain why.

If the electors were under 18 when they left the UK, and therefore may not have the documents to prove their previous UK address, they will be able to provide the name of a parent or guardian related to the address, and a birth certificate, or an equivalent document to demonstrate the connection to that person.

It will be possible to submit documents electronically, the draft law specifies.

In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year. Similarly, proxy vote arrangement will have to be updates up to every 3 years. Brits abroad should also receive reminders when declarations are about to expire.