On 29 March 2017 the Government of the United Kingdom (UK) informed the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union (EU). The United Kingdom will leave the EU on 31 January 2020 the latest. Until leaving the UK remains a Member State of the EU, and all rights and obligations arising from that remain in force.
On 25 November 2018 the heads of the EU Member States held a special meeting of the European Council, at which they reached an agreement regarding exit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union. As it is still not yet clear whether the United Kingdom will leave the EU on the basis of a withdrawal agreement or without an agreement, we provide a solution for both cases in order to ensure the citizens of the United Kingdom residing in Estonia as smooth transition as possible.
The Ministry of the Interior is in charge of issues concerning citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members who wish to settle in Estonia, as well as their personal identification documents in Estonia.
Questions and answers
Here you can find the rights of EU27 and UK citizens post-Brexit, as outlined in the Joint Report from the Negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government.
What will change for citizens of the United Kingdom who are presently residing in Estonia if Brexit takes place on the basis of a withdrawal agreement?
According to the United Kingdom withdrawal agreement, after the United Kingdom leaves the EU, the transition period will start. The transition period will last until 31 December 2020.
Until the end of the transition period the law of the European Union will generally remain applicable to citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members.
Citizens residing in Estonia will be able to continue to reside here on the basis of a valid ID card until the expiry of their documents. Family members of UK citizens who are citizens of third states will be able to stay in Estonia on the basis of their current residence permit.
Citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members who reside in Estonia or arrive in Estonia before the end of the transition period will not have to apply for a new document resulting from the withdrawal agreement. We plan to start issuing a new document certifying the right of residence in Estonia due to the withdrawal agreement from the beginning of 2021.
What will change for Estonian individuals with undefined citizenship who are presently residing in the United Kingdom?
The withdrawal agreement protects and applies to those individuals who are residing in the United Kingdom according to the terms related to free movement within the European Union. In the United Kingdom Estonian individuals with undefined citizenship presently have a status of citizens of a third state, and in the future their status will remain the same.
Their residence in the country before and after Brexit is and will be regulated by the domestic law of the United Kingdom, and the withdrawal agreement generally does not apply to such individuals.
Citizens of third states are regulated in the withdrawal agreement if such individual is a family member of an EU Member State citizen who is residing together with such EU Member State citizen in the United Kingdom at the time of its withdrawal and at the end of the transition period. The withdrawal agreement also protects spouses who are citizens of a third state and who are married to an EU Member State citizen, if such EU Member State citizen is residing in the United Kingdom and the marriage was entered into before the end of the transition period. Therefore, a spouse who is a citizen of a third state will continue to be able to join his or her partner who is an EU Member State citizen residing in the United Kingdom. Such protection does not apply to such marriages of EU Member State citizens entered into after the end of the transition period, and in the future they will be able to join their spouse on the basis of the domestic law of the United Kingdom.
In the future descendants of citizens of the Member States will be able to join their parent residing in the United Kingdom according to the terms stated in the withdrawal agreement, and they will not necessarily have to be residing in the United Kingdom during Brexit.
What would a no-deal Brexit mean for the UK citizens residing in Estonia?
Citizens of the United Kingdom can continue to reside in Estonia even if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.
Estonia's intention is that the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union goes smoothly for those UK citizens and their family members residing in Estonia today, so that they could continue their everyday life without any notable additional bureaucracy.
The Commission has called upon Member States to take a generous approach to UK nationals who are already resident in their territory and provide them with legal assurances regarding social security, on condition that the United Kingdom reciprocates.
Travelling: if you wish to travel from Estonia to other EU Member States, an Estonian ID card together with UK passport is sufficient until 31 March 2020. On 1 April 2020 at the latest, Estonian ID card must be replaced with a residence permit card.
- If a UK citizen is staying in a foreign country at the moment of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, he or she can return to Estonia on the basis of a valid travel document (passport) and a document that certifies the right of residence (ID card). He or she can apply for an extension of the document that certifies his or her right of residence also at Estonia’s foreign missions.
- UK citizens do not have to register their every stay away from Estonia. Residing in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit is considered as permanent residence in Estonia. It is important to keep your data in the Population Register correct and apply for an extension of a document that certifies legal residence (e.g. ID card) in a timely manner (up to 2 months) before the expiry of the validity term thereof.
- Upon the change of status from an EU citizen to a third-country national, you should keep in mind that you are allowed to stay in the Schengen Member States on the basis of a travel document (passport) and a visa of a Member States or visa-freedom for up to 3 months from your first entry into an EU Member State. On the basis of one Member States’ residence permit and a valid travel document is possible to travel in other Member States three months in six months period. It is important to keep in mind that upon working in the Schengen Member States, you have to comply with the law of the respective Member State, as legal acts may differ in individual Member States.
Documents issued to the citizens of the United Kingdom in Estonia are valid internally until the end of their validity term and UK citizens and their family members are not obligated to immediately replace their documents.
- The state fee for replacing a residence certificate of an EU citizen with a residence card is 35 euros. In the case of children under the age of 15 and persons who have attained the Estonian old-age retirement age, the state fee for reviewing an application for a residence card is 7 euros.
Family migration: an alien residing in Estonia on the basis of a residence permit can invite his or her spouse and children to reside in Estonia.
- The prerequisites to family members settling in Estonia are that the family is stable, the alien has a permanent legal income, or the joint legal income of the spouses ensures the maintenance of both the person himself or herself and his or her family members in Estonia. The family should also have a place of residence in Estonia.
- UK citizens’ family members who are third country nationals will be entitled to a residence permit of a long-term resident or a residence permit for permanently settling in Estonia, depending on the UK citizens' residence permit.