All you need to know about the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to residence rights in the EU.

What is the Withdrawal Agreement for citizens' rights?

The Withdrawal Agreement guarantees UK nationals who meet the conditions of residence and their family members broadly the same rights as they had as EU citizens: they can continue to live, study, work and access benefits and services in the host country as they did before the UK left the EU.

Who is protected by the Withdrawal Agreement?

The Withdrawal Agreement protects those EU citizens residing in the United Kingdom, and UK nationals residing in one of the 27 EU Member States at the end of the transition period.

It also protects the family members who are granted rights under EU law (such as current spouses and registered partners, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren and a person in an existing durable relationship) to join their family member in the future.

Children will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, wherever they are born, before or after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The only exception foreseen concerns children born after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal and for which a parent not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement has sole custody under the applicable family law.

What residence rights does the Withdrawal Agreement guarantee?

The substantive conditions of residence are the same as those under current EU law on free movement.

In essence, UK nationals who moved before 1 January 2021 meet these conditions if they fall within one of the following categories:

  • are workers or self-employed

  • have sufficient resources and sickness insurance

  • are students with comprehensive health cover

  • are family members of another person who meets these conditions

  • have already acquired the right of permanent residence and are therefore no longer subject to any of the above conditions.

The Withdrawal Agreement does not require physical presence in the host state at the end of the transition period. Temporary absences that do not affect the right of residence and longer absences that do not affect the right of permanent residence are accepted.

Those protected by the Withdrawal Agreement who have not yet acquired permanent residence rights (those who have not lived in the host state for at least five years) will be fully protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and will be able to continue residing in the host state and acquire permanent residence rights in the host state after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Is the administrative procedure to protect my residence rights the same across all European Union countries?

The administrative formalities that must be completed in order to protect UK nationals’ residence rights differ from country to country. It is vital that you check the correct procedure in the country in which you are residing. In Bulgaria and Greece, UK nationals do not need to apply for a new residence status by a deadline but should ensure they are correctly registered and able to evidence their rights with a new residence document.

The AIRE Centre EuroBrits Project assists UK nationals in the following EU countries: Bulgaria and Greece.

Want to find out about the Separation Agreement in relation to residence rights?