brexit

Brexit for (British) Expats in Sweden

This is an ongoing topic and this article will be updated as we get more information. 

On Thursday 23rd June 2016, 52% of the UK voted to leave the European Union in the “Brexit” vote. There is more detailed analysis and reporting on The Guardian, The Telegraph, and the BBC.


This Everything Sweden page is dedicated to what British expats need to know and understand in the coming months with regards to moving to Sweden, working in Sweden, staying in Sweden, and more. If there are any questions you feel are missing, then please leave a comment, send us a message here, or tweet us on Twitter.

Everything is very new and fresh at the time of writing (June 26th) and this page will be updated as we get more information.

What we know so far

Right now we are waiting to hear from the UK government about what they plan to negotiate for with the EU. Based on this, Everything Sweden will then call Migrationsverket and ask how the UK leaving the EU will impact new, existing, and long-term British expats in Sweden.

What we know right now is that we have time. The UK government needs to start the real Brexit by calling “Article 50” which will start a 2 year countdown timer for the UK to actually leave the EU.

We also know that under the current legislation, EU citizens that have been living in Sweden for 5 years are eligible for permanent residency (details here). Therefore, I would assume that if you will have been living in Sweden for 5 years or more in the next 2 years (current time + 2 years) then you should be ok to stay in Sweden. You can then get a Swedish passport and citizenship if you would like to.

Please note: none of this is confirmed by Migrationsverket at the time of writing (June 26th). As soon as we get a clearer direction from the UK government, this page will be updated with information from Migrationsverket.

Initial Reaction

David Cameron – “[During the EU negotiations,] there will be no change to people’s right to…work abroad”.

TV4 Nyheterna Interview

BBC World Service Interview

Starts around 9 minutes – here.

The EU Referendum – Pre-Vote Information

The UK has been debating about their membership in the EU, and on Thursday 23 June 2016, the UK will vote on whether to stay or leave the EU for good. You can read more details about the politics and issues surrounding this here:

EU referendum poll

What this means for Brits in Sweden

Right now, it looks very tight between the for and against parties, but with only 2 percentage points between them. The good news is that if the Brexit parties do win and the UK votes to leave the EU, there will be at least 2 years before the UK officially leaves. This is because the UK needs to inform the EU Council with a 2 years notice period. This gives the affected expats in Sweden and other EU countries time to apply for residency/citizenship/etc.

If the UK does vote to leave, a few things could happen which would affect the impact this has on Brits living in Sweden.

After the referendum, it’s likely that the UK will vote on what to do next in the EU. Will they leave the EU but stay in the EEC (like Norway and Switzerland), in which case, they are more than likely to keep the freedom of work and movement that we currently have. In that case, you may not need to do anything.

If the UK votes to leave completely and totally exit the EU, then things can get complicated. I’ve spoken to two different people at Migrationsverket and received two different answers.

If you have been living here for 5 years or more, you can apply for citizenship and stay in Sweden. The same goes if you have a Swedish partner with children in Sweden. In both cases, you can get a priority to citizenship as well as an option to stay in Sweden whilst waiting for your paperwork to go through.

If you have been here less than Sweden and are working, you will have to apply for a work visa, but outside of the country. You will need to leave, and together with your employer apply for a work visa which can take anywhere from 1 to 5 months to arrive, and then you can move back to Sweden (more details here – in Swedish).

The other thing is one of the people I spoke with from Migrationsverket told me that if the UK leaves completely and you’ve been here for a while, Sweden is not 100% sure what to do with your status right now. There is a chance that Sweden could make special arrangements for Brits that have been living here for 2+ years, but this has still to be discussed.

Stay informed and read the news in the UK to see how this story develops. I think it’s a nervous time right now but also too early to make a clear decision.

As soon as a we know what to do next, we will update this article.

For more details and to check how this will affect you, call Migrationsverket from here.

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3 thoughts on “Brexit for (British) Expats in Sweden

  1. Hi I’m Steve from England, my girlfriend lives in Sweden, we are concerned about what will happen now that Brexit has started, we intend getting married next year, would this be a problem, we are in our fifties, I intend to move there and get a job , I will watch out for updates. Kind Regards Steve

    1. Hey Steve. Thanks for commenting. Until the UK comes back with a clear plan on what they intend to do and negotiate for, I’d go on as normal. I’m also assuming that even after the UK lets us know, you will still be entitled to the standard EU benefits. So if you plan to get married next year, that should work fine. You can get permanent residency and passport then too. I’m going to call Migrationsverket as soon as we hear from the UK to see what will change and how Brit’s will be affected.

  2. Wouldn’t it be enough to be a Permanent resident (5 years exercising your treaty rights) without going for citizenship ?

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