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.

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.”