For members


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


INTERVIEW: How best to respond to the Sweden Democrats’ Swexit gambit

The far-right Sweden Democrats have tried to fire up the long-dormant debate over Sweden's membership of the European Union. We spoke to Lund University professor Ian Manners about what it means and what to do about it.

INTERVIEW: How best to respond to the Sweden Democrats' Swexit gambit

In tweets, interviews, one article in the Aftonbladet tabloid and a second one in Svenska Dagbladet newspaper, Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson outlined his party’s new tougher position, with calls for mandatory referendums on extensions of EU powers, an analysis of how to reduce the negative impacts of EU membership, and, finally, cautionary preparations to leave.


For Manners, a political scientist and EU expert, this is all about repositioning the party.

“He’s caught in a very difficult position in that he’s effectively in a governing coalition, although they’re not in government, and they have no clear anti-system position, because they are in effect part of the ruling coalition in some strange way.” 

Reviving a battle against the EU would allow the party to position itself against the broadly pro-EU Moderate and Liberal parties in the coalition, and also against the Social Democrats, Green and Centre parties of the opposition. 

“In some respects, this is an attempt to ignite support within the party for something distinctive that makes them look different to the other three partners in the ruling coalition,” Manners explained. 

It will also, though, help it find someone to blame if some of its most prominent policies wins fail to make it through parliament and into Swedish law. 

Åkesson and other leading Sweden Democrats, Manners believes, are quickly realising that many of the most hardline policies on migration, energy and environment won in the agreement with the three governing parties will be impossible to enact, as they clash with laws already agreed at an EU level or with the European Convention on Human Rights, or will be challenged by the European Court of Human Rights. 

“What’s become clear over time is that almost nothing EU-related in the Tidö Agreement has materialised in the way that Åkesson, or in fact the other parties, imagined,” Manners said. 

This has probably come as a shock, he added. 

“I’ve met enough SD MPs and MEPs that I don’t think they have that sense of consciousness of what it might mean to enter into a ruling coalition agreement like the Tidö Agreement and the extent to which it would be literally impossible to enact some of the policies made, so I think this probably comes as a little bit of a surprise for them.”

The European Court of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, he pointed out, “really binds your hands on a lot of the migration issues and on the treatment of refugees”. 

The same was true for a slew of other policies in the agreement, as anyone with an understanding would have known. 

“It was quite clear that actually, the government can have little influence over EU energy policy and environment policy and to a certain extent other EU-associated policy,” Manners said. “These are policies that are quite distinctly agreed at the EU level, not at national levels.”

As the Sweden Democrats have realised this, their animosity to the EU, downplayed since 2019, has revived. 

Åkesson’s two articles, while stopping short of calling for Sweden to leave the European Union, contain some radical proposals nonetheless.

The first article complained that EU membership was becoming like “a straitjacket” for Sweden, with EU decisions determining Swedish legislation over forestry, vehicles and fuel, and much of what happens in regional and local government.

The second proposed three government inquiries designed to prevent more powers being transferred from Sweden to the EU:

  • an inquiry into mandatory referendums on any significant extension of EU powers or funding requirements 
  • an inquiry into what actions Sweden can take to ensure that it is prepared to leave the EU, such as removing parts of constitution which state that Sweden is an EU member and training civil servants in trade negotiations 
  • an inquiry into reducing the negative impacts of EU membership, by analysing which EU directives have been “over-implemented”, and ensuring that Sweden only meets the minimum requirements of EU laws 

Manners said that the referendum inquiry was the one that the government should perhaps be most wary of. 

“If I were the Sweden Democrats, I would be after a referendum and I think that’s what they want: anything that splits both their enemies and their coalition members,” he said. 

Rather than an in-out referendum on EU membership, like the one held in the UK, the Sweden Democrats were probably hoping instead to engineer a referendum on a future planned extension of EU powers. 

Manners thinks that pro-European Union forces in Sweden should learn from the example of the UK and go into action as soon as possible, moving to educate the Swedish public in advance not only of the risks of leaving the EU, but also of having the kinds of opt-outs from some EU policy areas, as Denmark has had. 

After Danish voters rejected the Maastricht Treaty in a 1992 referendum, the country obtained four opt-outs from the treaty, covering the Euro, defence and security policy, justice and home affairs, and citizenship. 

The result, Manners argues, was “a total waste of diplomatic capital”, with Denmark’s government and EU diplomats spending all their time managing their opt-outs, meaning they had no energy to push forward other policies they wanted to advance in the EU. 

While the idea of Sweden rejecting a core piece of future EU legislation, let alone voting to leave the EU, may seem far-fetched, Manners said experience showed it was all too possible. 

“It seems hard to imagine in Sweden, but having seen it happen in the UK, and certainly in Denmark over and over (…) it comes with a surprise and it comes with a shock. And the surprise is that anyone is stupid enough to hold a referendum, and the shock is that you have no way of predicting what will happen at any referendum.”

For the Sweden Democrats, a referendum would allow it to dominate one whole side of the debate, attracting any voters wishing to prevent the expansion of EU powers. 

However the risks of the new policy gambit were at least as big as the potential benefits, Manners argued, with few supporting the proposed ideas even within the Sweden Democrats. 

“I think actually it will quite possibly backfire. If you look at some of the dog whistle sentences in the article in Aftonbladet, one is, ‘we need to evaluate our membership of the EU’. Well, there’s literally no support for that.” 

A recent survey of Swedish voters, carried out by the SOM Institute at Gothenburg University, found that support for EU membership was higher today than at any time since Sweden joined the EU in 1994, with 68 percent of voters in favour and only 11 percent against. 

This was even the case for Sweden Democrat voters, a full 43 percent of whom said they were “essentially in favour” of Swedish EU membership, up from 23 percent as recently as 2021. Only 31 percent of Sweden Democrats said they were “essentially against” EU membership. 

This picture could change if Åkesson and his party colleagues start to campaign on the issue and Manners said he thought it was important for pro-EU forces in Sweden to use this opportunity to make their case. 

“The place that Swexit would really hurt is down here in the south of Sweden,” he said, based in Lund. “Imagine all the agriculture and the small and medium-sized industries in Skåne. Imagine all the transport and commuters, all the jobs that are dependent on flowing across the bridge. It’s going to get hurt twice as bad as the rest of Sweden. And this is the base for the Sweden Democrats.” 

He said he believed that pro-EU politicians and media in Sweden should actively discuss the most concrete, material impacts of leaving the European Union. 

He mentioned the long queues of trucks you would expect ahead of the Öresund Bridge, the likely impact on the krona, or the impact on the big investment decisions currently being made in the north of Sweden in car battery manufacturing or Green Steel. 

Even having the debate or putting in place the inquiries Åkesson was proposing could risk these investments or affect the currency, said Manners. 

“Countries do need to have a discussion about what it might potentially mean to leave the EU, so that there is a far greater awareness of the heightened risks,” he said. “Because we never had that discussion in the UK.”