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Denmark’s no-deal Brexit bill: What British residents need to know

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Denmark’s no-deal Brexit bill: What British residents need to know
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
12:03 CET+01:00
The Danish government filed on Wednesday a bill setting out the rights of British citizens living in Denmark in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The 129-page bill provides for temporary continuation of the majority of rights currently enjoyed by British citizens who live in Denmark under European Union free movement rules.

Provided it passes parliamentary procedure, the proposed legislation is expected to come into effect on March 30th, should a no-deal scenario occur.

The Local spoke on Thursday to an official from the Ministry of Immigration and Integration, who provided further clarification and explanation of the bill and confirmed the accuracy of the information in this article.

Broadly, the bill will implement a temporary transitional arrangement which would enable British citizens and their families to remain in the country under an extension of rules currently in place under EU freedom of movement.

There are two relevant aspects of the bill which Brits should take note of: the recommendation to ensure EU residency paperwork is correct prior to March 29th; and a small number of areas where British citizens will be subject to rules different to EU citizens, should the bill come into effect.

EU registration and permanent residency

Advice issued prior to the formalisation of the bill remains valid:

  • British citizens living in Denmark who have not already obtained an EU registration certificate (EU-registreringsbevis), or have not already applied for one, are strongly advised to do so prior to March 29th.
  • Family members of Denmark-based British citizens required to apply for Danish residence via their family member's status are also advised to do so before this date.

EU citizens living in Denmark are already obliged to take the above steps under existing rules. Nonetheless, the ministry advises that British nationals ensure the correct registrations have been made, since this will provide the most straightforward way of proving entitlement to legal residence in Denmark under EU rules prior to March 29th – meaning this can continue after that date, under the new bill.

Applications for EU registration certificates and residency permits are made to the State Administration (Statsforvaltningen), where more information on EU free movement residency rules is also available.

British citizens who qualify for permanent residency (tidsubegrænset ophold) in Denmark in accordance with EU rules are also advised to apply for this prior to March 29th. Permanent residency can be applied for after five years' residence in Denmark under EU free movement rules.

EU free movement rules which are no longer extended to British citizens under the new bill

The principle underpinning the government’s no-deal Brexit bill is that existing rights under EU law are extended as far as possible, so that people can continue to live their lives as they are today.

This includes access to social benefits, social security, healthcare, education, student grants and recognition of professional qualifications.

Three areas will see UK citizens in Denmark subject to different rules in the event of a no-deal Brexit, however. The first, free movement rights, is outside the auspices of the Danish bill, while the second two areas are exceptions to the general extension of EU rules provided for by the bill.

1. Free movement rights

Since Denmark cannot determine whether Brits can move freely to other countries, legal residence in Denmark will no longer automatically enable free movement from Denmark to other EU countries, even though residence in Denmark will continue largely as before.

2. Family reunification

EU free movement laws extended by the proposed bill will continue to apply to families which were established before the UK’s withdrawal date from the EU (March 29th 2019).

As such, spouses or partners of British residents in Denmark, who are not EU citizens themselves, will remain entitled to family reunification provided that their family relationships were established before a no-deal Brexit. But relationships established after this date will no longer be eligible for EU family reunification, in contrast to partners of EU citizens.

This does not apply to children: children born or adopted into families which were established prior to the withdrawal date will be eligible for family reunification, regardless of whether they were born or adopted before or after Brexit.

Family members who lived in different countries up to withdrawal could also still be eligible for the EU’s family withdrawal rules, provided that the family relationship itself existed prior to March 29th.

3. Expulsion

Crime committed after withdrawal date will be subject to expulsion rules under Denmark’s Aliens Act (Udlændingeloven). If a crime is committed after Britain withdraws from the EU without a deal, the convicted individual can be expelled under the Danish act, rather than face EU rules.

In other words, EU rules provide for enhanced protection against expulsion applicable to EU citizens: these would no longer apply to British citizens who are convicted of crimes after the withdrawal date.

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