British citizens status in EU countries after Brexit



Published 2020-10-19 09:50:12
Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

How do Brits living in Europe apply for their resident status after Brexit? What is a constitutive Brexit policy and a declaratory policy? What is the deadline? And why is there no single process identical in all countries? That amongst other points will be the subject of this article.

According to Brexiteers, everything is ruled by Brussels and the Member States of the European Union have no control. Surely, Brits living in Europe have wished it was like that as it would have made their life much easier regarding their resident status application. Currently the 27 countries have chosen many different processes allowing the assumed 3 million British citizens to remain (and there are separate agreements which mirror the Withdrawal Agreement with Norway, Iceland and Switzerland). In addition, the whole process has been slowed by the coronavirus pandemic (see example below with the French procedure that has been delayed).

As a general rule, UK nationals and family who move to an EU country before 31 December 2020 will have until at least 30 October 2021 to apply for a new residence status in the EU country where they will be living. However, there are two main categories for the process, which require more or less efforts.

A constitutive Brexit policy and a declaratory policy?

Declaratory policy

Under declaratory policy, the UK’s withdrawal agreement sets the rules for British expats in the EU, which automatically guarantee Brits the same rights they had as EU citizens. The system does not involve deadlines and for those holding already a certificate of residence as EU citizen, this paper will remain valid (registration for a "new" card will always be possible at a later date).Fourteen countries, including Italy, Spain and Portugal, have opted for a “declaratory” registration system.

Spain was one of the first EU country introduce the new Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjaro (TIE) in June this year. There is two versions of the card:

  • a “temporary” TIE valid for five years – issued to individuals who have been resident in Spain for 5 years or less.
  • a “permanent” TIE valid for 10 years – issued to those who have been resident in Spain for more than five years.

List of countries with a declaratory policy (click on each country for more information):

Constitutive policy

Under a constitutive policy, British expats have to register and request a long-term resident status … and be granted that status. Thirteen countries have constitutive policies including France, Belgium and Austria. This is also a similar process to the one in the UK, where EU citizens have to apply for a Settle status to remain..

List of countries with a constitutive policy (click on each country for more information):

Information for each of the 27 countries

The EU is listing the different rules for each of the 27 countries on their website.

The pandemic is causing delays: example of France

While European living in the UK have until 30 June 2021 to get their Settled status (or pre-settled status if they have been in the country for less than 5 years) to remain legal resident, France announced that Brits living in France will have until 1 October 2021 to get their post-Brexit res idency cards, according to expat website RIFT (Remain in France Together - the largest organisation of British citizens in France).

Screenshot of the French website to apply for residency

This longer time is mostly due to the repeated delays of the French website dedicated to applications for residency status (the French government blamed the Covid-19 crisis for this delay). The website for applications is live since this morning, Monday 19 October (with a few issues as usual, some buttons are not translated or date entry is not filling), and Britons have until 30 June 2021 to apply. British citizens will only be required to hold a residence permit as of 1 July 2021. However, RIFT claims that they have been told there will be a grace period until October 2021 (which seems in line with the EU website saying that will have until at least 30 October 2021 to apply).

The site was site was briefly live in October 2019 and people who took the opportunity to apply should have their application transferred to the new system once it goes live. Early previews of the site reveal a simplified process with much less supporting paperwork than was required by the préfectures for residency applications.

The "carte de séjour" is issued under Article 18(1) of the Withdrawal Agreement. There will be two types of cards:

  • Temporary Card: People who haven't been resident for 5 years when they apply for their new card, will still be able to build up years and then apply for a carte de séjour permanent once they have reached 5 years. It is similar to the pre-settled status in Britain. They will need to fill in the online form with their personal details - name, age, address, marital status etc - then state what category they fall into - employed/self-employed, student, retired or otherwise non-economically active, or a family member of someone meeting the conditions under one of these categories.
  • Permanent Card: People who have lived in France for longer than five years will have to enter the date of their arrival then it asks them to upload documents including copy of passport, proof of residency and something to prove their arrival date (which may be difficult for some of them). If they already have a carte de séjour permanent (10 years) they still need to use the new portal and exchange them for a new card under the new system

The original fee for the application was meant to be €119 but it was dropped and this should now be free of charge (although there is still some confusion as if the fee will be reinstated in case of a no deal scenario). Following the online application you should receive an email with a acknowledgement of the registration and a certificate.

There is no clear idea of how many British citizens are resident in France. The current estimates is as large as between 150,000 and 400,000... The problem that is similar in Bitain for European citizens, is that there is no mandatory requirement to register as legal residents in France when you are a EU resident, the right is automatic (most of the other EU countries are still requiring registration, unlike France which stopped in 2003).

Whatever is the process, there is still uncertainty depending on the possibility of an agreement orr a no deal at the end of the year. For example, Spain, Portugal. Poland and many others have declared that ultimately, they’ll allow Brits to stay only if there is reciprocity and their citizens get settled status in Britain.


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