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

We outline the salient points of the Danish government bill which provides for the rights of British citizens in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Denmark’s no-deal Brexit provisions: What British residents need to know
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

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.

On March 19th this year, Denmark's parliament passed the bill, L166, which temporarily extends EU rights for British nationals and family members who have residency in Denmark at the time of any no-deal Brexit.

The new Danish no-deal Brexit law will apply until a law is passed to replace it.

The legislation would come into effect on October 31st should a no-deal exit occur on that day.

In March, The Local spoke 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.

Additionally, the Danish Ministry for Immigration and Integration (Udlændinge- og Integrationsministeriet) outlines on its website how procedures for British citizens travelling in and out of Denmark will be affected if and when the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

EU registration and permanent residency

Advice issued prior to the passing 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.
  • 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 the UK's no-deal exit, should such a scenario occur. That means legal residency can continue after the exit date, under Denmark's no-deal legislation.

Applications for EU registration certificates are made via the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).

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 the potential no-deal Brexit. Permanent residency can be applied for after five years' residence in Denmark under EU free movement rules. Applications can submitted made via

Travelling in and out of Denmark

If a no-deal Brexit occurs, British citizens will be treated as ‘third-country’, or non-EU or EEA nationals at Danish border control.

That means queuing in the ‘other nationalities’ line at airports, stamps in passports and use of manual gates, rather than automatic scanners.

Denmark’s immigration rules for non-EU nationalities will apply to British visitors, meaning Brits will have to outline the reason for visiting and be able to show they have the means to travel to Denmark. Tourist stays within the Schengen area must not exceed 90 days within a single 180-day period.

Britons (and family members) who have EU residency in Denmark at the time of a no-deal exit will not be subject to these rules, but will have to provide documentation for their residency. That means you will have to bring your EU Registration Certificate (EU-registreringsbevis) with you when travelling.

An example of an EU Registration Certificate (EU-registreringsbevis). This one belongs to the article's author. 

Older forms of documentation, which may have been issued by the National Police, State Administration (Statsforvaltningen) or other authorities will also remain valid as proof of legal residency in Denmark.

As such, the immigration ministry advises those who do not currently have an EU Registration Certificate (or a residency card in the case of family members of British citizens), or have lost theirs, to apply for one or request a re-issue via SIRI as soon as possible.

That also applies to those who have the right to permanent residency via five consecutive years of EU residency in Denmark: apply for this in good time, so that you have the correct documentation after a no-deal Brexit.

It is important to note that you will not lose your right to live in Denmark if you don’t have this documentation—your right to remain here under the new law is not dependent on the certificate itself. But having the correct documentation will make things easier, since you will be able to demonstrate the new law applies to you as a pre-Brexit British resident in Denmark.

More details can be found on the immigration ministry’s website, which is updated on an ongoing basis.

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.

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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How Brexit has changed life for Brits living in Denmark

Since Britain left the European Union, Brits living in Denmark have been deported, forced to change their jobs, and faced a long list of new bureaucratic hassles. Here are some of the problems our readers have highlighted.

How Brexit has changed life for Brits living in Denmark

EU figures out in January indicated that only about 40 Brits in Denmark had so far been ordered to leave the country as a result of Britain leaving the European Union, a fraction of the 1,050 ordered to leave Sweden. Some 350 Brits in Denmark missed the deadline for post-Brexit residency. 

But Brexit is still far from popular. A full 76 percent of the Britons in Denmark who responded to our survey said that Brexit had affected them either “quite” or “extremely” negatively (42.3 percent and 34.6 percent respectively).

Only one respondent said that their life had been very much improved. 

Here are some of the ways people said Brexit had made life less convenient and more expensive.  

Losing the right to stay in Denmark

William, an account manager based in Copenhagen, was deported from Denmark after failing to apply for post-Brexit residency in time and is even now trying to find out if the decision to deny him residency will be reversed and whether he might be entitled to compensation. 

The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) failed to send letters to as many as 1,800 British people informing them of the deadline. 

“Siri failed to notify me of the requirement to update my status, I got deported and I experienced stress, anxiety and sickness due to the year-long application and appeals process,” he complained. 

Denmark’s immigration minister Kaare Dybvad Bek said last month that the roughly 350 British nationals who risk losing their right to live in Denmark after missing the deadline to apply for a post-Brexit residency permit would get a reprieve. Bek said on February 10th that his department would “present a solution soon”. 

READ ALSO: Britons told to leave Denmark over late residence applications could get reprieve

“Siri have not yet decided what they will do regarding making changes to finalised decisions that were affected by the rejection of appeal,” William said. 

For another British woman living in Copenhagen, Brexit means her UK-based husband can only visit her in Denmark for three months in every six month period, with his passport getting stamped every time. 

“It’s usually enough, but if we wanted to visit France for a month that would count too,” she said. 

Having to handle a work, residency, or study permit 

Brits not eligible for post-Brexit residency now need to apply for a work permit, family reunion, or study permit to get residency in Denmark, which several of those answering the survey complained was difficult, costly and involved long delays. 

“This is so annoying,” wrote one reader, who works in the pharmaceuticals industry. Registering for post-Brexit residency had been “a hassle”, agreed a music industry professional.

A 50-year-old woman from Scotland who married a Dane post-Brexit said her application for residency to come and live with him had been rejected on the first attempt, and that she had been so far unable to find a job. 

“For two years, I’ve been living an uncertain life worrying about the future,” she said. 

Susan, 41, said she found it frustrating not to be able to bring family members from the UK to live with her in Denmark. 

READ ALSO: How can you get a work permit in Denmark if you are not an EU national?

Extra hassle getting personal number or bank account

Hannah said that it had taken significantly longer for her to get a Danish personal number (CPR) than it had for her Swedish husband and children. 

“Getting CPR, bank accounts etc took a lot longer than rest of family, who are Swedish,” she complained, adding that she was as a result applying for Swedish citizenship. 

Unable to get a long-term lease on a car or a monthly mobile phone contract 

The pharmaceuticals industry professional blamed Brexit for his inability to get a car through private leasing, although one major car manufacturer told The Local that all that was required was to have a registered address in Denmark, a Danish social security number, and a good enough credit rating.  

“I tried several private long-term leasing companies, but they simply told me that they couldn’t lease a car even though I work for a big pharmaceutical company with a permanent position,” he said. “The main problem is my work permit is of type J. If you leave the EU with the car, they wouldn’t know where to find you. Even if they knew when I was, the cost of prosecuting someone in a non-European country is too high.”

He also complained that he had been unable to get a monthly contract from his mobile phone provider meaning he could not upgrade to the new iPhone.

Problems keeping business going 

David Darlington, 58, closed down his import and distribution company Food From Home after more than 18 years after Brexit, as it became too difficult to import British goods to Scandinavia. 

“One of the reasons I lost my business was because of Brexshit,” he wrote in the survey. 

Problems with post and customs charges 

Almost everyone who answered the survey complained of the way Brexit had made sending and receiving post and parcels more difficult. 

“I had to produce receipts for Easter eggs which my dad had sent to my children. The supermarket receipt wasn’t good enough and in the end I told them to return the parcel,” complained Matt, 47, a Brit with Danish citizenship.

“I’ve stopped ordering books and other items from Amazon UK because of uncertainties with tax regulations,” he added.

“My sisters have to watch the value of presents they send to my grandchildren to avoid paying import taxes,” said a woman living in Copenhagen. 

Problems exchanging driving licence 

Susan complained about the “difficulty of exchanging driving licence”, even though most UK nationals do not need to take a driving test to exchange their driving licence to a Danish one, provided their licence was issued before the UK left the EU. 

Only people who got their licence after Brexit and who want to keep a higher category than a normal car license, entitling them to tow a heavy trailer, take more than eight passengers, or drive a truck or lorry, need to take a so-called “control test”. 

Harder to buy a house 

“Buying a house involved an extra approval from the ministry and adds additional restrictions,” complained AJ, pointing to the requirement that non-EU citizens apply to the Department of Civil Affairs for permission to buy property in Denmark. 

“You have to prove you have strong ties to Denmark,” she said of the process. “We were lucky. We had a great lawyer who got us through it all and we received our approval from the Ministry in two weeks but some people wait up to 12 weeks and then lose their house.” 

This does not apply, however, if you have already been resident in Denmark for more than five years

Difficult to work part-time in the UK 

“I will have to give up my online teaching for a college in London because I’m not allowed to teach more than six weeks in another country,” complained the woman living in Copenhagen. 

Queues at airport passport control

It can be maddening for Brits to be faced with a much shorter queue for EU citizens at airports in Denmark, while the queue for non-EU citizens edges forward painfully slowly. 

Unable to live and work in other EU countries 

“We only have the right to reside here. Much as we love Denmark, it’s a bit like being trapped,” complained AJ, one of many people who listed no longer being able to get a job in or move to another EU country as one of the major drawbacks.  

Michael, a project manager in the wind industry, said that he faced problems as a result of the limits on how long her can work in other EU countries, with the 90/180 rules only enabling him to work 90 out of any one 180 day period in another EU country. 

“Restrictions on travel throughout EU (90/180 rule. Border crossings and risk of stamps in passport that kick 90/180 rule in,” he said. 

“The only way to regain my European rights fully is by becoming Danish and the rules on this seem to change quite frequently, so as a result life seems more precarious and uncertain,” said Liz, who lives in Zealand. 

One recent retiree who had lived in Denmark for 25 years said she was annoyed that Brexit had lost her “my right to live, work, study, retire in the rest of the EU”, but that she had recently applied for and received Danish citizenship. 

Uncertainty about retiring 

“I am concerned about the future,” said Sandra. “When I retire will I still have the same rights or will I be told to leave?”. 

Uncertainty about extending post-Brexit residency card 

Under the EU withdrawal agreement, British citizens living in EU countries at the time Britain left the European Union were offered post-Brexit residency status indefinitely, but the certificates they were issued were only valid for five years, leaving many uncertain as to what happens when they try to renew. 

“I expect to find it more difficult to obtain permanent residency on completion of the Article 51 Temp Residency I got in 2021,” wrote Ian. 

Feels different 

For many respondents, the biggest change was emotional. Brexit has changed how comfortable and secure they feel living in Denmark. 

“It feels different to be needing a resident’s card, rather than being more a ‘part of the European family’, with the feeling of being ‘on probation’ for remaining,” said Stephen. 

“It makes me feel far away from daughter and friends,” said Caroline, a retiree.