Brexit: What changes for Brits in Denmark after January 31st?

Brexit: What changes for Brits in Denmark after January 31st?
The Union Flag in Brussels on January 29th. Photo: Yves Herman/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix
Friday sees the United Kingdom officially withdraw from the European Union. What are the immediate consequences for British nationals who live in Denmark?

The Danish Ministry for Immigration and Integration (Udlændinge- og Integrationsministeriet) has published on its website a guide to conditions that will come into effect as the UK’s membership of the EU is replaced by the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) on January 31st.

British citizens will technically be third-country nationals after the withdrawal date, but those already resident in the Denmark are encompassed by the terms of the WA.

So in practical terms for British people living in Denmark, not a lot will change straight away.

However, all UK citizens who do not have dual nationality lose their status as EU citizens and a transition period will begin, during which they will largely continue their lives in the EU as they have done previously.

There is no paperwork or permit that needs to be completed before this date in order to remain in Denmark during the transition period.

What the transition means from the point of view of the Danish immigration services can be read in full on the ministry website, which also includes contact details.

Here are the key elements.

Right to residence in Denmark continues for British citizens and their families, provided they were legally resident in the country before the withdrawal date. Additionally, Britons and their family members can still exercise their right to EU free movement until the end of the transitional period, currently December 31st 2020.

Britons will then have a further six months to apply for residency after the end of the transition period, so the deadline to get applications in as it stands is June 2021.

Residence documents that have already been issued in accordance with the EU rules on free movement will continue to be valid. 

Therefore, you do not need to do anything now if you have already been issued with a document or card which confirms your right of residence in Denmark under the EU rules on free movement.

If you have previously been issued with a document (a registration certificate or residence card) proving your right to reside in Denmark under the EU rules on free movement, but you have lost that documentation, the immigration ministry advises contacting the relevant authority, SIRI, to apply for its reissue.

This also applies to family members of British citizens living in Denmark under EU free movement rules.

Social welfare

The WA means that, during the transition period, your rights as a British citizen to social benefits remain as if you were still an EU citizen, the Danish Foreign Ministry writes on its website in accordance with European Commission information.

This also applies to future events, so if you become unemployed after the UK has left the EU, your right to unemployment benefits will be the same as that of EU citizens.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Should I sign up with a Danish union and get unemployment insurance?

Social service benefits and daycare 

In order to be entitled to social services including municipal daycare a person must legally reside in Denmark.

Social services can include “assistance to vulnerable children and adults, compensation to persons with disabilities and practical support for elderly persons”, the foreign ministry writes.

The Withdrawal Agreement does not affect these rights.

Access to Denmark’s healthcare system remains similarly unchanged during the transitional period, as do the rights of British nationals to study in Denmark.

Rules relating to practising in regulated professions – such as medicine, for example – remain as if you are an EU citizen during the transitional period.

Driving licenses

Britons resident in Denmark before the withdrawal date who still have a UK driving licence will have to exchange it to a Danish driving license.

This applies regardless of Brexit: if you establish residency in Denmark, you must change your (EU) UK licence to a Danish one within 90 days of moving to Denmark.

The change is a technical one with no further tests or requirements needed to switch licences, and can be done at the citizens’ service (Borgerservice) desk in your local municipality for a fee of 280 kroner.

If you are not resident in Denmark, however, you will be permitted to drive in Denmark on your British license during the transitional period.

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