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 Europe’s population is changing and what the EU is doing about it

The populations of countries across Europe are changing, with some increasing whilst others are falling. Populations are also ageing meaning the EU is having to react to changing demographics.

How Europe's population is changing and what the EU is doing about it

After decades of growth, the population of the European Union decreased over the past two years mostly due to the hundreds of thousands of deaths caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The latest data from the EU statistical office Eurostat show that the EU population was 446.8 million on 1 January 2022, 172,000 fewer than the previous year. On 1 January 2020, the EU had a population of 447.3 million.

This trend is because, in 2020 and 2021 the two years marked by the crippling pandemic, there have been more deaths than births and the negative natural change has been more significant than the positive net migration.

But there are major differences across countries. For example, in numerical terms, Italy is the country where the population has decreased the most, while France has recorded the largest increase.

What is happening and how is the EU reacting?

In which countries is the population growing?

In 2021, there were almost 4.1 million births and 5.3 million deaths in the EU, so the natural change was negative by 1.2 million (more broadly, there were 113,000 more deaths in 2021 than in 2020 and 531,000 more deaths in 2020 than in 2019, while the number of births remained almost the same).

Net migration, the number of people arriving in the EU minus those leaving, was 1.1 million, not enough to compensate.

A population growth, however, was recorded in 17 countries. Nine (Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, France, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands and Sweden) had both a natural increase and positive net migration.

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: Five things to know about Germany’s foreign population

In eight EU countries (the Czech Republic, Germany, Estonia, Spain, Lithuania, Austria, Portugal and Finland), the population increased because of positive net migration, while the natural change was negative.

The largest increase in absolute terms was in France (+185,900). The highest natural increase was in Ireland (5.0 per 1,000 persons), while the biggest growth rate relative to the existing population was recorded in Luxembourg, Ireland, Cyprus and Malta (all above 8.0 per 1,000 persons).

In total, 22 EU Member States had positive net migration, with Luxembourg (13.2 per 1 000 persons), Lithuania (12.4) and Portugal (9.6) topping the list.

Births and deaths in the EU from 1961 to 2021 (Eurostat)

Where is the population declining?

On the other hand, 18 EU countries had negative rates of natural change, with deaths outnumbering births in 2021.

Ten of these recorded a population decline. In Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia population declined due to a negative natural change, while net migration was slightly positive.

In Croatia, Greece, Latvia, Romania and Slovakia, the decrease was both by negative natural change and negative net migration.

READ ALSO: Italian class sizes set to shrink as population falls further

The largest fall in population was reported in Italy, which lost over a quarter of a million (-253,100).

The most significant negative natural change was in Bulgaria (-13.1 per 1,000 persons), Latvia (-9.1), Lithuania (-8.7) and Romania (-8.2). On a proportional basis, Croatia and Bulgaria recorded the biggest population decline (-33.1 per 1,000 persons).

How is the EU responding to demographic change?

From 354.5 million in 1960, the EU population grew to 446.8 million on 1 January 2022, an increase of 92.3 million. If the growth was about 3 million persons per year in the 1960s, it slowed to about 0.7 million per year on average between 2005 and 2022, according to Eurostat.

The natural change was positive until 2011 and turned negative in 2012 when net migration became the key factor for population growth. However, in 2020 and 2021, this no longer compensated for natural change and led to a decline.

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: One in four Austrian residents now of foreign origin

Over time, says Eurostat, the negative natural change is expected to continue given the ageing of the population if the fertility rate (total number of children born to each woman) remains low.

This poses questions for the future of the labour market and social security services, such as pensions and healthcare.

The European Commission estimates that by 2070, 30.3 per cent of the EU population will be 65 or over compared to 20.3 per cent in 2019, and 13.2 per cent is projected to be 80 or older compared to 5.8 per cent in 2019.

The number of people needing long-term care is expected to increase from 19.5 million in 2016 to 23.6 million in 2030 and 30.5 million in 2050.

READ ALSO: How foreigners are changing Switzerland

However, demographic change impacts different countries and often regions within the same country differently.

When she took on the Presidency of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen appointed Dubravka Šuica, a Croatian politician, as Commissioner for Democracy and Demography to deal with these changes.

Among measures in the discussion, in January 2021, the Commission launched a debate on Europe’s ageing society, suggesting steps for higher labour market participation, including more equality between women and men and longer working lives.

In April, the Commission proposed measures to make Europe more attractive for foreign workers, including simplifying rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the EU. These will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council.

In the fourth quarter of this year, the Commission also plans to present a communication on dealing with ‘brain drain’ and mitigate the challenges associated with population decline in regions with low birth rates and high net emigration.

This article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.