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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UPDATED: Denmark’s government supports Ukraine EU candidacy 

Denmark’s government has said it will support Ukraine’s bid for EU membership after the European Commission deemed the country’s candidacy viable.

UPDATED: Denmark's government supports Ukraine EU candidacy 

Ukraine’s bid to be part of the EU got a majority backing in Danish Parliament on Friday after the European Commission backed the bid.

“It is really, really important that Europe opens the door for Ukraine, so that we can get started to ensure that Ukraine can be ready for EU membership,” foreign affairs spokesperson Michael Aastrup told newswire Ritzau.

Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod said on Twitter that Denmark was looking forward to continuing cooperation with Ukraine on reforms.

The possibility for Ukraine to become part of the EU is conditional on Ukraine implementing reforms – on rule of law, oligarchs, human rights and tackling corruption – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday. She added that “good work has been done.”

Candidacy status is a significant step to joining the EU but the whole process can take years.

“When a candidate’s status is granted, it is not the same as Ukraine being ready to join the EU. There are a large number of criteria to be met and there are a large number of outstanding ones that Ukraine lacks. These are some of the things that are being addressed”, Michael Aastrup said.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will attend a meeting in Brussels next week where the recommendation from the European Commission will be voted and signed off by the EU’s 27 member states. France, Germany and Italy have also already backed Ukraine’s bid but the decision has to be unanimous.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has said that status as a candidate for EU membership is vital to his country, while the country’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has said the question could be decisive in the war to defend Ukraine from invasion by Russia.

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