For members


Should British-Swedish dual citizens still apply for post-Brexit residence status?

December 31st is the last day to apply for post-Brexit residence status in Sweden, and in some cases it may be worth applying even if you hold Swedish citizenship.

Should British-Swedish dual citizens still apply for post-Brexit residence status?
The main difference between residence status and citizenship relates to which family members can join you. Photo: Simon Paulin/

British citizens are eligible for citizenship in Sweden if they have had legal residence in the country for at least five years (or three, in certain circumstances where they have lived with a Swedish partner) and meet the requirement of having “conducted themselves well”, in other words not committed serious crimes or racked up significant debt.

Since the UK voted to leave the EU, there has been a surge in the number of Brits applying for citizenship in Sweden.

The two statuses are different. Swedish citizenship grants you certain additional rights such as being able to vote in elections and work for the army or police, and it can never be revoked, meaning you retain the right to live and work in Sweden (and other EU countries) even if you leave Sweden.

The new post-Brexit permanent residence status, despite the name, can be revoked if you leave Sweden for more than five consecutive years, or if you are deported or expelled from Sweden (the latter usually only happens in the case of very serious crimes). Permanent residence is specific to Sweden, so Brits with this status will retain the rights they had as an EU citizen to live and work in Sweden, but if they want to move to another EU country, they must follow the procedures for third country nationals, usually involving a work permit.

But even if you are eligible for Swedish citizenship, it may be worth applying for the post-Brexit residence status as well.

Firstly, if you have applied for Swedish citizenship but not yet received a decision, it’s important to apply for the post-Brexit status too. Sweden has long processing times for citizenship applications, and it is difficult to predict how long any individual application will take. Having an in-progress citizenship application is not enough to secure your right to live and work in Sweden after December 31st, 2021.

Secondly, there is one area in which the post-Brexit residence status grants more generous rights than Swedish citizenship, and it’s an area that may affect a lot of foreigners.

“The advantage of residency status is that certain family members of British citizens with residency status have the right to join their British family member in Sweden afterwards (ie after the end of the application period) and can then apply for residency status. In such cases, they have three months to apply from the time they arrived in Sweden,” a press communicator for the Migration Agency confirmed to The Local.

“Family members of people with British-Swedish citizenship, on the other hand, need a residence permit, but British citizens with Swedish citizenship can also apply for residence status and thus make it easier for their family members.”

This right applies to spouses, long-term partners, unmarried children under 21, as well as other close family relations if they can prove financial dependence on their British relative in Sweden. People in this category will be able to move to Sweden even after the end of 2021 and apply for residency status granting them the same rights as their British family member, in other words the right to access Swedish healthcare, live and work in Sweden. More information is available on the agency’s website. This is significantly more lenient than the current process for family members of Swedish citizens, who are required to apply for a residence permit if they wish to join their partner or parent.

The Local asked the Migration Agency if there were any other rights conferred by the post-Brexit residence status that were not conferred by citizenship. We were told: “No, the simpler possibility for family members to join their British family member in Sweden is the advantage of residence status compared to a Swedish citizenship.”

Brits, including British-Swedish dual nationals, now have until the end of December 2021 to apply for the post-Brexit residence status after the agency extended the deadline. The application is free, and applicants simply need to prove they have had right of residence of Sweden before December 31st, 2020 (when the transition period ended).

Member comments

  1. I am confused by this because the migrationsverket e-service asks “For what reasons you have had residence for 5 consecutive years, with the following answers:
    Person with sufficient means of subsistence
    Family member or guardian of a British citizen in Sweden (I summarise the last 5 categories to this)
    But this excludes all us British citizens that were granted residency because we accompanied a Swedish citizen to Sweden (i.e like me who married a Swede and moved here).
    So I cannot proceed….it probably makes no difference but I was doing it anyway to get all the rights I can! I’ll just satisfy myself with meagre dual citizenship 😋

  2. Could you please write the same article but for Denmark? We need to convince as many dual nationals to apply as possible. I’m also concerned that people applying for citizenship think they don’t need to apply for the new card, leaving them at risk of losing their legal residency after the end of the year.

  3. I’ve read this article half-a-dozen times and still don’t understand how someone with Swedish citizenship that they acquired in addition to their original citizenship can apply for ‘residency status’ when their acquired citizenship automatically gives them the right to residency.

    I can understand the difference in rights regarding the residency of family members joining the British person in Sweden, but still can’t get my head round how a (new) Swedish citizen can also apply for residency status. Surely once you have obtained Swedish citizenship you can’t also apply for Swedish residency status because you already have it through your citizenship. Or am I misunderstanding something here?

    1. Hi Tony,
      I wrote an article answering your question here:
      In short, you can apply, if you also qualify for residency under EU rules, but you don’t have to. In this case you would just apply as usual and you can state in the “other information” section of your application that you’re a dual citizen. The only benefit is the right for other family members (such as parents or children over 21) to be able to move to you or visit visa-free.
      Let me know if you have any other questions,

  4. I dont want to repeat the above questions, but..
    I have dual citizenship, UK and Swedish. I have been living and working in Sweden for 9 years. I recieved my Swedish citizenship 2 years ago.

    Should I apply for residency status? I dont want to loose any rights but do not want to repeat of the stress it took to get my citizenship.

    I have started the e application (Swedish Migration Agency) for residence status and got to a message “You are filling in an application for residence status as a Swedish citizen. In order to proceed with your case, we need to register your personal data in the aliens database”.

    This made me stop and think. If I dont need it do I need to continue?

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For members


What Brits in Sweden need to know if they move back to the UK post-Brexit

Most people accept that moving to Sweden is tricky and involves a lot of paperwork, but for Brits deciding to go back to the UK it's easy, right? After all, you're just going home? Wrong.

What Brits in Sweden need to know if they move back to the UK post-Brexit

Moving countries is a time-consuming process – but if you’re British and living in Sweden you might think that moving back to the UK would be simpler? Well, there won’t be a language barrier and as a UK citizen you won’t need any immigration paperwork (although if you’re bringing a Swedish partner you with then that gets complicated) – but you will still face administrative hurdles around pensions, healthcare, driving and taxes. 

Some of these issues existed before Brexit, while others are as a direct result of the UK leaving the EU. Here are the most common questions from Brits thinking of moving back to the UK.

Do I still qualify for NHS treatment?

You are entitled to NHS treatment if you are “ordinarily resident” in the UK – there is no minimum time limit so as soon as you are back in the UK on a permanent basis, you can use the NHS. You will need to register for a GP in your local area in order to access non-emergency treatment, and to get an NHS number if you do not already have one.

You may need to provide proof of a UK address in order to use NHS services – although in reality UK citizens are rarely asked for this, apart from when registering with a GP. 

If you have been an S1 holder while living in the EU you should cancel that, just so there is no confusion over where you are getting your healthcare.

If you go back to Sweden for a visit, remember that you are now a tourist and will need a GHIC card to get European healthcare, while travel insurance is also advised in case of accident or illness while visiting an EU country. 

Can I drive on my EU licence in UK?

If you have been living in the EU you may have had to change your UK licence for a French or Spanish one for example.

Once you’re back living in the UK you can continue to drive on you EU licence until the age 70 or if you move to the UK when you are 67 or over you can drive for three years. After this time you’ll need to change your licence.

If your licence or photocard has an expiry date – once it’s time to renew, you should swap it for a UK licence. You’ll need a valid photocard licence to drive in the UK.

You can find details on the swap process for UK licences here, and if you’re in Northern Ireland here

UK residents with an EU licence can if they want exchange their licence for a UK one, if they wish to do so, without the need for a re-test.

READ ALSO: How to change your driving licence to a Swedish one

Can I bring my Swedish partner with me?

If you’re returning alone you won’t need to do any kind of immigration paperwork, your UK passport is enough. However if you are bringing a partner with you who is not a UK citizen, it becomes complicated.

After the end of the Brexit transition process there was an “amnesty” period in which Brits with EU partners could move back to the UK under the old immigration rules. This is now ended and EU partners face the same immigration process as all other foreign spouses.

Essentially either your partner will need to have already secured a relatively high-paying job in the UK, or you will need to prove that you have a large amount of money to support them. They will need to go through the process of getting a UK visa (which is expensive – between £1,000 and £1,500 just for the visa fee) and there is no guarantee that their application will be successful simply because they are married/in a civil partnership with a Brit. They will also need to take an English-language exam. 

Here are full details.

What about my pension contributions from the EU? 

If you have been working in Sweden, you will probably have been contributing to the Swedish pension system. Pre-Brexit, UK and EU pension contributions could be blended into a single pension – but this is no longer the case.

Brits still living in the EU who are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement are theoretically covered by blended pensions if they had made pension contributions in the UK before moving to the EU, but the same does not apply if you move back to the UK. 

The good news is that EU countries still practise this – so if for example you have paid into pensions in France, Germany and Italy, your contributions will be totted up and paid out as a single pension – you apply in the last country you worked in. Bear in mind, however, that different countries have different pension ages. 

The country that is paying your pension may require you to have an EU bank account to pay into – and you should check with the country paying your pension whether there are any other conditions to observe.

When it comes to a pension from the UK, it depends on how long you worked there – the basic rule is that you need 10 years of National Insurance contributions in order to get a state pension.

However the UK government states that periods of work done in the EU or EEA “may” count towards your qualifying period. That said, even if they do, they don’t count towards the total pension amount – so for example if you worked for seven years in the UK and the remaining 35 years of your career in the EU, you can qualify for a UK state pension, but it will only be based on the seven years of work in the UK (in other words, the payment per month will be tiny).

Here are further details on UK pension entitlement.

Do I need to hand back my residency card, health card etc before I leave the EU? 

Most countries require that you hand back residency cards before you leave, but in truth this is rarely strictly enforced. Check with the Swedish Migration Agency about what you should do with your residence permit (be it an uppehållstillstånd or a card proving your uppehållsstatus), as they may want you to post it back. 

If you do end up keeping residency or healthcare cards – don’t use them on trips back to the EU. Tempting as it might be to avoid border queues or healthcare fees, you will create a confusing official record if you are claiming to be resident of two countries at once.

If you have taken Swedish citizenship, that is a different matter and of course you are entitled to keep and use your Swedish passport when visiting the EU.

READ ALSO: What do dual-nationals need to know about post-Brexit border controls

Do I still have to pay Swedish taxes? 

It’s highly likely that you were paying taxes in the country you lived in. Generally, tax declarations concern the previous year, so you will have to do at least one tax declaration and payment after moving back to the UK.

In Sweden, you usually get your tax declaration at the beginning of March, with the deadline for declaring in May, and it concerns the previous calendar year. So if for example you move back to the UK in April 2023, you will have to complete a tax declaration in May 2024, covering the time you spent in Sweden in 2023.

READ ALSO: Explained: How does income tax work in Sweden?

If you still own property in Sweden you will pay property taxes there, and if you have any earnings in your former home you will likely still have to pay taxes there – check with the Tax Agency. 

When you left the UK, you will likely have informed HMRC that you were leaving the country, so you will now have to tell them that you’re back. Whether you have to fill out a UK self-assessment form depends on whether you are a salaried employee or self-employed/retired. 

Can I keep my Swedish bank account? Do I need a new UK account? 

This one depends on the policy of your bank, but most banks in Sweden require you to have a Swedish address.

It’s possible that your UK bank may have closed your account while you were living outside the UK, in which case you will need to open a new one.

A practical option while you are moving and still have interests in both countries is to open an internet bank account with a company like Wise or Revolut – these offer accounts in pounds, euros, and a range of other currencies including the Swedish krona and give you a European IBAN and a UK sort code, so you can use it in both countries.

Will my EU qualifications be recognised?

If you were studying or gaining professional qualifications while living in the EU, don’t assume that these will be recognised in the UK. Brexit ended the mutual recognition of qualifications – check with the professional or academic body that issued them whether these are recognised in the UK, you may need to acquire a certificate of recognition.

It’s a good idea to check this point before you start job-hunting in the UK. 

Be prepared for hassles

The advantage of moving back to the UK is that you’re not starting from scratch and at least you know how things like council tax, electricity billing and healthcare work.

However, don’t assume that it will all be plain sailing – if you don’t have a recent UK address, you might be an anomaly in many companies’ systems and you’re likely to be forced to have several long and annoying conversations with call centres while you explain that while you are a UK citizen, you have not recently been living in the UK.

There are likely to be other niggles too – many UK car insurance companies won’t recognise a no-claims bonus built up abroad, so you’ll be back to paying full premiums on your car insurance, while banks might request extra money laundering checks due to your foreign associations.

A lot of people in the UK also seem to be confused about the difference between citizenship and residency, so be prepared to have the following conversation a lot: “I’ve recently been living in Sweden. No, I’m not Swedish, I’m British, I was just living in Sweden. Yes, I am a UK citizen.”