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Life After Brexit: Most Important Changes for EU Citizens Living in or Traveling to UK

Péter Cseresnyés 2020.01.31.

Brexit has been at the center of the news almost continuously for roughly three and a half years. But now that UK’s exit is within reach, the question becomes more pertinent than before: what exactly will change for EU nationals after Brexit officially concludes and the transition period starts? The short answer is, not much for now, but from next year on there might be some important changes worth keeping in mind.

The UK will officially leave the EU at midnight (CET) on Friday, 31st of January. The UK MEPs will lose their seats in the EP and the country will no longer have any say in the affairs of the European Union. But for the next 11 months of its “transition period,” the UK will continue to apply and be bound by all EU laws.

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However, how the political, economic, and legal relations between the EU and UK will specifically look like in the long run, depends on the upcoming negotiation period, where all parties will agree upon the exact conditions of their future cooperation and legal relations.

The question is particularly important for Hungary, as many Hungarians live in the country. The biggest Hungarian-born population outside the Carpathian Basin is in the UK.

What happens to those EU citizens who live in the UK?

The short answer is that this year not much will change- the citizens of the European Union can continue living their lives in the UK as they do now.

After January 31, 2020, EU citizens can continue to work or study there until the end of this year, however, any EU citizen who wants to stay in the UK with their existing rights must register for Britain’s ‘EU Settlement Scheme‘ until June 30, 2021. If the application is accepted, those registered will either have settled or pre-settled status.

Those EU citizens who have lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years receive settled status, which grants the right to stay in the country indefinitely.

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Those who have not been there long enough receive the pre-settled status, which means they can live and work in the country for up to five years and are able to apply for the settled status when reaching 5 years of stay.

It is important to note, however, that only those can apply for the scheme who arrived in the UK before December 2020, the end of the transition period. This means those EU citizens going to the United Kingdom from 2021 might need visas and work permits to be able to stay.

Those who apply to the EU Settlement Scheme successfully will be able to continue living and working there after June 30, 2021. It is unclear at this point what will happen to those who fail to do this by the deadline, but their prior rumored deportation seems an unlikely option.

Traveling to the UK for EU citizens

EU citizens will be able to travel freely to the UK during the transition period, without the need for a visa. A national identity card or a valid passport will be enough for at least the end of this year. Also, people can still enter the UK using a passport that expires in less than six months.

From the start of 2021, ID cards won’t be accepted for entry into the country. The exact date for this change is not yet known but the UK government says it will announce it in advance so that people can plan their trips.

The exceptions are those who received an EU settlement Scheme status; they can use national identity cards to enter the UK until at least December 31, 2025.

Featured photo illustration via Pixabay/daniel_diaz_bardillo