I have written a more personal and emotional post about living in the shadow of Brexit as an expat, but I wanted to focus more on the practical in and outs, and how we are preparing for Brexit as an expat. It is difficult, as I think we all hope it will still just go away. However, with a failed vote in parliament and another due imminently, we, as expats need to start getting our paperwork in order, as life as we know it could change overnight. Time is rapidly running out and is not on our side. Especially if there is a last minute no-deal there will be little time to get all the admin processed. However, what I will state is this. Things are changing all the time, often on a daily, if not more frequently, basis. Therefore, if you are an expat reading this, do not take what I say as gospel, but use it as guidance for your own research. If you are not an expat, maybe it will give you a little insight into how precarious our situations are currently.
Preparing For Brexit As An Expat With “A Deal”:
This would obviously be the better situation. As it currently stands we would have almost the same rights as we have now residing in Sweden, as would our children. The big difference would be our right of movement, as it will be for EU citizens currently residing in the UK. We could not choose to move on from Sweden (or if you are an expat in another country), you can only stay in your current country, or return back to the UK. If you think you may try to move to another country during the transition period, that is still unnegotiatied and unclear whether it will or it won’t be possible. But for our family as UK expats living in Sweden, it all looks like we could stay in this scenario. General holiday travelling gets a little more complicated and have a look at point 3 under “no deal” as to what you can expect to happen.
Preparing For Brexit As An Expat With “A No Deal”:
This is where preparing for Brexit as an expat gets tricky, and if like us you are not in a situation where you can apply for citizenship in the country you are living in (we need to have lived in Sweden for 5 years….we have done 2.5 years, so we’ll still be 18 months short when the transition period ends) things are about to get a little bit costly and involve a lot of paperwork. The reason it is looking ever more increasingly likely that a no deal is a real possibility, is that for any deal to be made, all the sticking points need to get sorted. That includes things like the Northern Ireland border which is not looking like getting sorted soon.
- Driving licenses: I have put this one first, as our UK EU driving license will be treated differently when Brexit happens. Instead of them being valid indefinitely in Sweden (at least until their natural expiry date, as in the UK) as a Non-EU license they will only be valid in Sweden for 12 months. Then at the end of this 12 month period, we would have to pay for, and take(!), a Swedish driving test to get a Swedish driving license. However, if we choose to exchange our UK driving licenses, while they are still EU licenses, for Swedish licenses before Brexit, we can do this by just filling in a form and paying a small fee. So in preparing for Brexit as an expat, this is something we needed to be doing asap. So we are having to preempt a no deal situation and apply for a new Swedish license now. We will be relinquishing our UK ones by doing this, but time is not on our side as it all takes time to process the application. Indeed the UK foreign office has actually recommended expats to start doing this as part of preparing for Brexit.
- Right to reside and work: One day you have the right to reside where ever you are, and overnight you will no longer have the right to reside in that country. For us in Sweden, having a personal number and identification card already will not give us the right to reside. We will be like everyone else from outside the EU, that needs to apply for residency or work permits and have them in place before they enter Sweden. However, Sweden are preparing for Brexit by trying to push through legislation that gives a one year period after Brexit happens in March 2019 to get this paperwork in place without having to return back to the UK. That is at least something helpful. Dadda should be fine as he has a job contract and can prove he can support his family on his salary. However, for me, my future is less clear. I will need a resident’s permit…..which I am hoping will be fine as I am married to Dadda and the mother of our children who are also here. However, what is more unclear is what will happen to my fledging dog walking business. As an EU citizen, to be self employed I have been able to just set up a business with no problems. I pay tax to Sweden and everything is above board. However, as a non EU citizen they will want proof that the earnings from my business are enough income for our family…..but my business does not meet the Swedish guideline figures. So I am currently unsure as to whether I will lose this opportunity due to now having to fall into line with a different set of rules. This is rather getting me down a little.
- Travel: In preparing for Brexit as an expat I have been looking into what we need to have in place to travel on our UK passports. I’m a little nervous about not being able to get back into Sweden, where our home now is, after a holiday!! We hold UK passports so will be subject to the same travel requirements as those residing in the UK, which means we will not need visas to travel to EU countries, but we will need an ETIAS document. This stands for European Travel Information and Authorisation System. It is expected to come into force in 2021 (but please check before you travel anywhere!!). It is important to mention here that we will need this if there is a deal or if there is a no deal. The electronic form should take no more than 10 minutes fill out, and people between 18-70 will pay a fee of around €7. HOWEVER!!! This also depends on what the UK grants the other way i.e. to EU nationals wanting to travel to the UK. So keep a look out for developments.
- Healthcare: We will no longer have the right to subsidised healthcare here in Sweden as the Swedish do. We pay a few minimum fees, but after Brexit we would need health insurance cover for all five of us. So in preparing for Brexit this is something we need to research and cost up.
- Right to Study: At the moment, in Sweden, we do not have to pay to study here or for our children in the future. After Brexit we will be liable to third country fees.
- UK Bank accounts: We have a few of these between us. The children have some savings, and for us adults it was a way to manage and money we had left in the UK. Banks are not supposed to discriminate against expats, but from what I can gather it is a little bit of a lottery as to which ones do not. In preparing for Brexit we have chosen to keep our UK bank accounts, since we are still UK nationals! We believe this will help us keep access easier to our accounts, and ultimately money.
If you are a UK expat resident here in Sweden, some places to go to as a point of contact for further information are as follows:
Please let me know of anything I have missed out in the comment below. Make sure you start tackling any required paperwork as early as possible once you know what the situation is, as you will not be the only ones in the country where you reside! We are very lucky, and some lovely friends have already offered help if it comes to this, as the forms are in Swedish. If you can not face the paperwork, you better get researching your ancestry for that long lost Irish relative so you can apply for an Irish passport, as they will still be in the EU!! I am off now to get back to my day dreams where a second referendum is held, and miraculously Brexit is no longer…….sorry Brexiteers, but apart from potentially destroying our family’s dreams, I do feel you are rather stuffing up the UK and other lives in a number of ways…..I’m going to stop now before this turns into a rant!! 🙂