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The Guidance Note – Part 1: Residence Rights & Procedures

In May 2020, the European Commission published the Guidance Note to be used by national authorities in conjunction with the  Withdrawal Agreement. The Guidance Note will help make sure that the Citizens’ Rights chapter of the Withdrawal Agreement is implemented correctly.

Here at British in Europe, we recognise that the vital information contained within the 57-page document is not easy to understand for many of us and therefore our team have been hard at work creating a series of easy-to-read guides much as we did for our easy to digest guides to the Withdrawal Agreement earlier in the year.

This is the first of the series of three guides focusing on Residence Rights and Procedures. Future guides will look at:

  • Family Members, Family Reunification, and dual nationals, and
  • Pensions Healthcare and Social Security

For easy reading, click the [  ] in the bottom right to enter full screen.

If you find our guides useful, donate to British in Europe. We need your financial support to continue with our advocacy and information provision.

You can download an A4 pdf copy of the guide here.

PLEASE NOTE: This information has been provided to help individuals better understand the Withdrawal Agreement. If you represent a public or private organisation which wishes to use this material, please contact us. All materials are subject to copyright.


Evidence to Parliamentary Select Committee

At the end of April 2020 British in Europe was once more asked by the UK Parliamentary Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union to provide evidence. We have already given oral evidence twice to this committee, which is chaired by Hilary Benn, as well as written evidence.

This time, our views  on 9 specific questions was requested.

Continue reading Evidence to Parliamentary Select Committee

Expert Observers – Part 2

On the 30th March British in Europe and the3million wrote a joint letter to both the UK Government and the EU Commission requesting that representatives of our organisations be given a  role on the specialised subcommittee on citizens’ rights. Read it in full here: Expert Observers.

In response, we received a letter from Wendy Morton,  Minister for the European Neighbourhood and the Americas, thanking us for the work we do and explaining: “As you are aware, experts and other persons can be invited to provide information on a particular subject. The co-chairs have not invited external participants to the first meeting. However, they are aware of your request and will take it into consideration for future meetings.” Read the letter here.

We have written again to the UK Government and the EU Commission with some of the more important specifics that we would like to see discussed and resolved ahead of the first meeting of the special sub-committee of the Joint Committee on citizens’ rights.

Alongside a request for clarification regarding the legal
status of Guidance Note issued last week, the initial list of concerns includes:

1. Withdrawal Agreement implementation

1.1 Issues specific to British citizens in the EU

1.1.1 Implementation timeline across Member States

1.1.2 Interaction of Withdrawal agreement rights and Third Country National rights

1.2 Issues specific to EU citizens in the UK

1.2.1 Restrictions to Status under the EU Settlement Scheme

1.2.2 Comprehensive Sickness Insurance (‘CSI’) and access to the NHS

1.2.3 EU Settlement Scheme status updates by new identity documents

1.3 Issues related to both groups of citizens

1.3.1 Impact of COVID-19

1.3.2 Application deadline of constitutive application schemes

1.3.3 Documents evidencing proof of status under the Withdrawal Agreement

1.3.4 Extension of the Grace Period – Article 18(1)(c)

1.3.5 Issues of implementation and application procedure – Article 18 obligations

1.3.6 Status of children in care and others

1.3.7 Transparency and Data Protection

1.3.8 Dual EU/UK nationals evidencing their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement

2.  Ancillary issues directly related to the Withdrawal Agreement

2.1 Return to country of origin after transition, accompanied by family members

2.2 Travel and visa requirements for non-EU family members of EU and British citizens

Read the full letter here with the supporting information.

We look forward to engaging with the committee further and proactively throughout the duration of the implementation process.

Quarantine policy – a letter to the PM

The Prime Minister recently confirmed in the House of Commons that the UK will implement a period of quarantine/self-isolation by the end of May for all travellers arriving in the UK except for those coming from France or Ireland.

We have written to him and his Ministers to request that this decision is reviewed and extended to all UK and EU/EEA/EFTA citizens arriving from EU/EEA/EFTA countries, be it by air, rail or sea.

It is discriminatory to exempt a UK national living in France from 14 days self-isolation but not a UK national living in Greece. Furthermore, there is no scientific basis for this decision given that very many countries in the EU/EEA/EFTA region have had far fewer cases of COVID-19 and recorded far fewer deaths from it than France.

This is not questioning whether or not there should be a quarantine, that is for the Government to decide. However, we are protesting against the differing treatment of British citizens who reside in France to those that reside elsewhere in the EU. There should be no difference in our treatment, especially where the implemented policy could lead to some of us losing our livelihoods in an already difficult period.

Read the letter in full here and the text is below:

12th May 2020

Dear Prime Minister,
Dear Foreign Secretary,
Dear Home Secretary,

We write on behalf of British in Europe representing 1.2 million UK nationals living in the EU. We note that the Prime Minister confirmed in the House of Commons that the UK will implement a period of quarantine/self-isolation by the end of May for all travellers arriving in the UK except for those coming from France or Ireland. We are asking you to review this decision and to expand the exempted category to all UK and EU/EEA/EFTA citizens arriving from EU/EEA/EFTA countries, be it by air, rail or sea.

It is discriminatory to exempt a UK national living in France from 14 days self-isolation but not a UK national living in Greece. Furthermore, there is no scientific basis for this decision
given that very many countries in the EU/EEA/EFTA region have had far fewer cases of COVID-19 and recorded far fewer deaths from it than France.

The COVID-19 pandemic is going to be with us for a long time – certainly until we have a safe, effective and widely available vaccine – but that is months, if not years away. Implementing this quarantine decision without an exemption for UK and EU/EEA/EFTA nationals means that tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of us will be effectively prevented from returning to the UK, be it for business, leisure or family reasons, for the foreseeable future. Those of us
who need to work in the UK on a cross-border basis may find ourselves unable to keep our jobs or businesses running in our EU state of residence. In turn, this could affect our ability
to meet economic requirements for residence in our host states under the Withdrawal Agreement. And, as death rates climb in the UK, those of us with family there may simply not see them again unless we can travel to the UK over the summer.

We hope that you will reconsider this decision – as President Macron did when France contemplated a similar step two weeks ago – and provide the requested exemption. This is a time of great unease and concern for everyone and this simple step would at least remove this key concern.

Yours sincerely,

UK Government allocates fund to support UK in EU

The UK Government has today released details of the funds allocated to support UK Nationals in the EU which can be read here.


Brexit is an unprecedented political and legal event in EU and UK history. Over a million UK nationals live in the EU, EEA and EFTA countries and all of us are affected by Brexit and its consequences. This new legal situation we face is complex and we need advice and assistance in this next phase of Brexit. UK nationals have hundreds of questions relating to the intersection of citizens’ rights under the Withdrawal Agreement, other parts of EU law and national immigration law.

 “BiE asked the UK government to set up a support fund for UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and EFTA states in 2018. It has been a long wait but at least contracts have now been signed with seven organisations[1] to provide registration assistance to UK nationals in this critical first year of Withdrawal Agreement implementation in the EU and EFTA region,” explains Jane Golding, Co-Chair.

These organisations will be performing a critically important role. Many lives and livelihoods, particularly those of vulnerable and hard to reach UK nationals, will depend on the advice and assistance that they provide. This will be especially true in the countries – around half of EU Member States – where UK nationals are being made to reapply in order to remain. BiE looks forward to receiving more information from the contracted organisations and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on the assistance that will be provided and in which countries, although we note that not all of the twenty seven EU countries will be covered[2].

“Effective and meaningful monitoring of the advice provided will be key and we look forward to hearing about the mechanisms that have been put in place to do this over the lifetime of the contracts,” says Fiona Godfrey, Co-Chair. “In some member states, implementation of the citizens’ rights chapter of the Withdrawal Agreement will not start until late 2020 or even 2021.  This will provide very little time to find the people who need to register, especially in the constitutive countries. People cannot be allowed to fall through the cracks, advice must not be wrong and mistakes must not be made: Organisations may get a second chance but hundreds of thousands of UK nationals may not. Lives hang in the balance.”

[1] The AIRE Centre, Age in Spain, Asociación Babelia, Cyprus International Financial Services Association, Franco British Network, International Organisation for Migration, SSAFA

2) To our knowledge, only Spain, France, Germany, Cyprus, Italy, and several other EU countries will be covered.

For further comment, please contact us.

Comments on the Commission Implementing Decision

On 4 March 2020, Jane Golding and Jeremy Morgan, QC, compiled the attached paper on behalf of British in Europe commenting on the Commission Implementing Decision of 21 February 2020. It has been sent to the Task Force unit responsible for Citizens’ Rights and will be circulated to other interested parties.

“As a prescribed document intended “to evidence rights provided under Title II of the Agreement” the proposed format fails to include an essential element, namely whether or not the holder has the status of permanent residence.”

This has important ramifications as laid out in the paper.

Read the paper in full here.


Please donate to our crowdfunder so we can continue to hold all parties to account as the Withdrawal Agreement is implemented. The devil is in the detail and we need our legal team to be on top of these details at all times. This can only happen with YOUR help.

The announcement by the Commission on the format was lauded by many as a great step forward, some people mistakenly believed it gave additional rights. We need experts who understand the implications of the details to review every decision made and call out when they are lacking.

Withdrawal Agreement: BiE Guides 1-6

British in Europe is the organisation of reference on citizens’ rights for UK nationals in the EU. Since 2017 we have been recognised by the British government, the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament as trusted interlocutors, meeting secretaries of state, ministers in member states and key EU and British officials. Our ten-person Steering Team has campaigned jointly with the3million, which represents EU27 citizens in the UK. Together, we have pressed to keep our existing rights and to prevent Brexit from destroying the lives and families we have created whilst exercising those rights.

With our legal expertise and our grassroots understanding we are in a unique position to explain the detail held within the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) on Citizens’ Rights. We provide this information to all, free of charge, because we believe that everyone should understand their rights and what the real impact of the WA will be on those of us who live in the EU and our families. However, we do not receive any funding and so we ask everyone who finds our advocacy and information provision helpful to support us with a donation.

Following the publication of the WA, BiE issued a series of explanatory guides which are free to read and download. These are legally checked and written in language that we can all understand. There are 6 in total which can be read below:

1) Introduction to the WA

2) Residence rights and procedures

3) Health care, pensions and social security

4) Working rights, professional qualifications and family reunification

5) What’s not covered by the WA

6) Frequently asked questions