The end of 2020 brings the beginning of the residency deadline for EU Nationals who wish to remain in the UK post-Brexit. EU Nationals must be resident in the UK before 31st December 2020 in order to be able to apply for status under the EU Settlement Scheme and remain in the UK post-Brexit. Such applications need to be made by 30 June 2021.

But what about those going the other way? What are British citizens required to do should they want to secure their futures in Europe after Brexit?

The UK and the EU has signed up to the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020. In the terms of said agreement, it has been agreed that British citizens who are lawfully residing in another EU country by the end of the transition period will have their rights secured and allow them to stay in the EU country in which they reside.

British Nationals and their families will need to apply for a residence status to confirm that they were resident in the EU country before the end of the transition period. Identically to the EU Settlement Scheme in the UK, British citizens will have until 30 June 2021 to do so.

Businesses who wish to send their British employees abroad to work in Europe may wish to consider accelerating plans to do so to take advantage of the freedom of movement provisions in place until the end of the year. Delaying plans to move employees abroad will mean the appropriate work visas will need to be obtained. Employers might be unpleasantly surprised with the difficulty in obtaining the relevant visas for their employees in the future, finding that their employees do not easily qualify to work in the EU and they may well be faced with increased costs in terms of visa fees and additional complexities.

Families may also wish to urgently consider establishing their residency in EU member states, even if they do not intend to immediately reside in the state on a permanent basis. This is because obtaining residence now will secure their future should they wish to consider permanently moving later.

Similarly to workers, migrating to Europe will only become far more complex following the end of the transition period. Migrants may find that they do not easily qualify for visas in a number of European states and may also be deterred by the financial cost of making visa applications.

How does one apply for residency status in each EU member state? Well there is no universal scheme that covers all states. Each individual state is approaching the application process in a different way and each has separate stages and criteria.

Below is a short analysis in respect of a few member states schemes


All UK Nationals resident in France will need to obtain a new residence permit in line with the Withdrawal Agreement. This includes:

  • UK Nationals with a European carte de séjour (even if it is marked “permanent”, or has no expiry date)
  • UK Nationals without a European carte de séjour (it is currently optional to have one)
  • UK Nationals applying for a second nationality
  • UK Nationals married to or PACSed to (in a civil partnership with) EU nationals
  • UK Nationals recently arriving or well established in France.

The system for applications was due to open earlier this year but has been delayed until this month due to Covid-19. When the system opens, you will need to apply using the online residency portal.


The German government has yet to adopt legislation for new residence processes for UK Nationals however the scheme is expected to reflect the one adopted in other countries such as the UK.

Residents must ensure they are properly registered at their local registration office in Germany before the end of the transition period even if they do not apply for a new residence document until 2021. This registration is mandatory for those resident in Germany and will assist in evidencing legal residence in Germany before the end of the transition period.


Those who want to stay in Spain for more than 3 months must register as a Spanish resident. Those living in Spain before 1 January 2021 and who register as a resident after 6 July 2020 will be issued a biometric residence card called a ‘Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero’ (TIE). This card will prove the holder’s rights under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Those registered as a resident before 6 July 2020 will have a green A4 certificate/credit card-sized piece of paper from Extranjeria or the police. This document remains valid and will prove the holder’s rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. Paper residence documents can be exchanged for the new TIE but there is no obligation to do this.


UK Nationals resident in Malta on or before 31 December 2020 will be able to stay following the end of the transition period. Those wishing to move will need to obtain a new residency card by 30 June 2021, in line with the Withdrawal Agreement.

British Nationals who have been living in Malta for three months or more and have not yet registered for residency, including those whose residence document has expired should contact Identity Malta.

British Nationals who have previously registered for residency will receive a letter from Identity Malta by 31 December 2020, confirming when and where to go to apply for it, as well as what documents required.

EU member states

There are 27 member countries of the EU and each has their own process for obtaining a residency card. Should you have any questions regarding how to move to an EU member state before the upcoming transition end date or reside in an EU member state and want to obtain a document to prove your residency and secure your future, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the Immigration team.


Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

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