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Living in Sweden post Brexit: Who has to apply for residence status?

Many, but not all, Brits need to apply for their post-Brexit residence to secure their right to stay in Sweden after December 31st.

Swedish flag and EU flag
Which Brits need to apply for Swedish post-Brexit residency status? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Whether or not you need to apply for the post-Brexit status depends on your current residence status. 

If you moved to Sweden as a British national after December 31st 2020, then you are not eligible for the post-Brexit status, and should have applied for another kind of residence permit as a third country national in order to live here. 

If you moved to Sweden before December 31st 2020, then under the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement you are eligible to apply for the post-Brexit status and secure your continued right to live here, as long as you previously had right of residence. This applies both to British nationals and to their immediate family members.

Holders of certain residence documents do not need to apply for the status in order to stay living and working in Sweden, but there may still be advantages to doing so. It is free to apply for the post-Brexit status, and you can apply until the end of 2021. 

If you have permanent right of residence (uppehållsrätt)

Most Brits and their third country family members who arrived before December 31st 2020 had right of residence (uppehållsrätt) either as EU citizens, if they moved before Brexit, or under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. Anyone in this category who was working in Sweden (including as self-employed), studying, or otherwise had sufficient means to support themselves had right of residence under EU rules.

People in this category did not previously need any document to prove their right of residence, but those who have had right of residence for over five years may have applied for a certificate of permanent right of residence (Intyg om permanent uppehållsrätt).

If you are in this category, even if you have the certificate of permanent right of residence, you need to apply for residence status before December 31st 2021 if you wish to remain in Sweden. That’s because your current right of residence is linked to EU rules, which now no longer apply to British citizens.

If you have a residence card (uppehållskort)

Another type of residence document is a residence card (uppehållskort). These are for non-EU citizens who live with a non-Swedish EU citizen, so it is unlikely that many Brits have this kind of document if they arrived pre-December 2020, as they probably applied as EU citizens, but you might have it if you moved to Sweden with an EU partner but did not have right of residence under EU rules at the time.

After five years, those with a residence card can apply for a permanent residence card (permanent uppehållskort).

These cards are also issued under EU rules, so if you have one of these, you must apply for residence status before 31st December 2021 if you wish to remain in Sweden.

Residence permit (uppehållstillstånd/UT)

Another type of residency document is a residence permit (uppehållstillstånd/UT) or residence permit card (uppehållstillståndskort/UT-kort). This is a permit issued to non-EU (or “third country”) citizens who are eligible for residency in Sweden under Sweden’s national rules.

If you did not qualify for residency under EU rules, but you qualified for residency under Swedish rules (a common example is if you were not working, studying or able to support yourself when you applied, but moved to Sweden as a family member of a Swedish citizen), then you may have one of these.

These are unaffected by Brexit as they are issued irrespective of EU citizenship, so if you have one of these, you do not have to apply for residence status, but you can if you want. You will, however, need to renew this permit once it runs out if you do not have a permanent residence permit (permanent uppehållstillstånd/PUT), or you may lose your right to work in Sweden until your new permit is approved, even if you still qualify for a permit.

Brits with Swedish or EU citizenship

If you have Swedish citizenship, you do not need to apply for residence status in order to remain in Sweden, but you can if you are eligible to (ie if you qualify for right of residence under EU rules). This also applies to British nationals with another EU citizenship.

Note that if you are eligible for Swedish citizenship but your application is still pending, you should apply for the post-Brexit status. This is because there is no guarantee you will receive your citizenship before the December 31st deadline, and an in-progress application is not enough to guarantee your right to stay.

If you fall into the category of people who do not need to apply for residence status in order to stay in Sweden but you are still eligible (ie. in addition to your citizenship or residence, you also have right of residence under EU rules), note that you still have the right to apply for it, under EU law.

The EU also strongly recommends that you apply regardless of the residence permit you already have, as residence status shows that you have the right to enter Sweden, and exempts you and your family members from any visa requirements. 

The Local contacted the Swedish Migration Agency for information on how to apply for residence status if you fall into the category of Brits with Swedish citizenship or a permanent residence permit.

We were told that these people can apply via the usual online form or via post and explain that they have citizenship or a permanent residence permit under “other information” (or “övriga upplysningar“, if using the Swedish form). As this only applies to dual citizens or people with permanent residence permits who also qualify for residence status under EU rules, you will also need to state your reason for having right of residence under EU law (worker, student, self-employed, or able to support yourself).

Do you have questions? Reach out to us via email or in the comments below.

Member comments

  1. Hi , FOMO has been troubling me. I have British/Belgian dual nationalities , moved here a year ago. Registered with Skatteverket as a Belgian pensioner (with Belgian health cover) . After a few months got my PN number and Swedish ID. As I understand it, as a Belgian under EU agreement I have the right to stay? But as also a Brit will I have to apply for residence status? Any one out there with Euro/Brit dual Nationalities with info on this?

    1. Hi Rocco,

      You don’t need to apply.

      You can apply if you wish though the only benefit in your case would be as an insurance against extremely unlikely pathological scenarios, eg Sweden or Belgium leaving the EU or Freedom of Movement somehow being suspended etc . Uppehållsstatus is a treaty-based residence status that is independent of how the EU evolves.

      1. Hi David
        Thanks for the info, it is as I had thought. But reading into other peoples problems with applications for post Brexit residence, the time limit to apply and finding it hard to get clarity from Migrationsverket had put doubt in my mind. Its nice to know that I can enjoy what Sweden has to offer without fear of being asked to leave!!

        Regards Paul

    2. Hi Rocco,

      David is right. You don’t need to apply, but you can if you want, as you were here under EU rules before the deadline.

      Any rights you would be protecting are rights you have anyway via your Belgian citizenship.

      Let me know if you have any other questions,


      1. Hi Becky,
        Thanks for the info, it is as I thought. But reading into other peoples problems with applications for post Brexit residence , the time limit to apply and finding it hard to get clarity from Migrationsverket had put doubt in my mind. Its nice to know that I can enjoy what Sweden has to offer without fear of being asked to leave !

        Regards Paul

  2. The British are getting a lot of breaks from the Swedish Migration Board to sort their Legal Status out in Sweden . This is the Third extension if I am correct , whereas in the UK they give no leeway to anyone from the EU . Brexit the Biggest mistake the UK could have made , and look at the mess it has caused . There is no place on Earth better than Sweden and I am not just saying that to please my friends , it is a fantastic country when it comes to Immigration , though lately the generosity has been seriously abused , and I do not see the welcoming signs still standing very much longer . The influx of refugees was a serious mistake in such a Homogenous society , and the smiles that were once in abundance have disappeared .

    1. It is the first (and likely only) extension. Also, EU citizens in the UK had since early 2019 to apply. Brits in Sweden have only able to apply from 1/12/2020. A mildly extended application window for Brits is still far shorter than that which EU citizens in the UK had (i.e. more than two years).

      Furthermore, Sweden is applying rules that the UK has chosen not to apply. The only criteria the UK imposes is that someone was resident before the end of 2020 and that they don’t have a serious criminal record. Sweden and the other EU countries are not doing this.

      Although the deadline has passed for EU citizens in the UK, applications are still being encouraged and people are not being turned down. Those on benefits are allowed to keep their benefits despite not having applied when they should have done so. I have no idea what will happen to Brits who apply late in Sweden.

      Your argument that the UK gives no leeway to anyone from the EU and that Brits here are getting a lot of breaks is contradicted by the evidence base.

  3. Whatever the parameters surrounding the given time to get ones house in order in Sweden , or passport take your pick , my point is that because of the new requirements imposed by Brexit regarding who qualifies EU citi work and reside in the UK , many major businesses including mine have moved our Businesses and Headquarters to European Countries , in my case Paris . Back in the day one had to revoke your original Citizenship if you became a Swedish Citizen , so all these questions about having to apply to stay when you are a Swedish Citizen makes me laugh . Do Swedes who are American Citizens apply of course not . Brexit is a Lie told by a Bunch of Old Etonians that went to that school with me and it has caused nothing but grief .

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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.