The United Kingdom withdrew from the European Union on 31 January 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement has been concluded between the European Union and the United Kingdom which among other issues, regulates the rights of the United Kingdom citizens and their family members who are residing in the European Union i.e. in Estonia and the other EU member states.
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 currently residing in Estonia?
In accordance with the withdrawal agreement, after the United Kingdom withdrawal from the European Union, a transition period commences, lasting until December 31 2020.
- Until the end of the transition period, the European Union right of free movement will continue applying to United Kingdom citizens and their third country national family members. Citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members are not required to take any immediate action regarding their legal status as residents of Estonia. Citizens of the United Kingdom can continue residing here under their current Estonian ID card until its expiry date. United Kingdom citizens’ family members can reside in Estonia under their current residence permit cards.
- Citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members residing in Estonia and United Kingdom citizens and their family members arriving in Estonia before the end of the transition period do not have to apply for a new document resulting from the withdrawal agreement. Estonia is planning to commence the issuing of a new residence permit card in the last three months of 2020. The Ministry of the Interior will give further notice to United Kingdom citizens who are residing in Estonia about when the new residence permits will start to be issued.
What will change with regard to citizens of the United Kingdom living in Estonia after the end of the transition period?
- Pursuant to EU law, citizens of the United Kingdom (UK) are third-country nationals as of 1 January 2021. The residence of UK citizens and their family members who have resided in Estonia under EU law will continue to be regulated by the Citizen of the European Union Act with the specifications set forth in the Withdrawal Agreement.
- UK citizens who have entered Estonia for the first time can register their place of residence in accordance with the procedure set forth in the Population Register Act until 31 March 2021.
- UK citizens who come to live, work or study in Estonia as of 1 April 2021, must apply for a residence permit at a Police and Border Guard Board service office or in advance at an Estonian representation abroad. More detailed information about applying for a residence permit can be found on the webpage of the Police and Border Guard Board.
- As of 1 January 2021, UK citizens can travel visa-free in the Schengen countries for up to 90 days within 180 consecutive days. The period of visa-free travel is calculated from the day of entry to the territory of the EU. With regard to UK citizens who have entered an EU Member State before 1 January 2021, the period of visa-free stay shall be calculated from 1 January 2021.
- Upon crossing a border and travelling to other Member States, a valid travel document (passport) must always be carried, as well as a document certifying legal residence in an EU Member State (the new residence permit card), if held. The Estonian ID card will continue to be valid as a document that certifies the right of residence, but for travelling please change the valid ID card of an EU citizen for a residence permit card.
- The visa or residence permit of one Schengen country grants the right to stay in other Schengen countries for up to 90 days within 180 days. The visa or residence permit of a Schengen country does not generally grant the right to live and work in another Member State and in the case of a desire to work, study and live in a country please comply with the legal acts of the respective Member State.
- It must be kept in mind that as UK citizens will be subject to legal acts applicable to third-country nationals in the EU, they cannot use lanes intended for EU citizens upon border-crossing. The travel documents of UK citizens who have the right of residence or a residence permit in Estonia shall not be stamped upon border-crossing. The travel documents of UK citizens who travel visa-free shall be stamped and they must be prepared to answer questions about their purpose of entering the EU, sufficient financial means, health insurance, etc. at the border.
What will change for the family members of UK citizens living in Estonia after the end of the transition period?
- The family members of UK citizens living in Estonia under the Withdrawal Agreement and the Citizen of the European Union Act will continue to have the same rights to live in Estonia as EU citizens as before. The family members of UK citizens living in Estonia will also be able to join a UK citizen living in Estonia on the same conditions as before, i.e. the UK citizen lives, studies or works, etc. in Estonia, he or she has sufficient financial means and health insurance. The family members living in Estonia under the Withdrawal Agreement and the Citizen of the European Union Act may continue to work in Estonia on the same conditions as before, i.e. without the requirement for the permission of the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the average salary generally applicable to foreigners.
- The family members of UK citizens entering Estonia after 1 April 2021 must apply for a residence permit at an Estonian representation abroad or, if they have a legal basis to arrive in Estonia (visa-free travel, visa, etc.) at a Police and Border Guard Board service office, if they wish to live in Estonia. Their stay, residence and employment in Estonia will be regulated by the Aliens Act and the conditions of entry into Estonia as similar to those applicable to other foreigners, i.e. their family member lives in Estonia, has a permanent legal income which ensures the subsistence of the family in Estonia, health insurance, etc. The family member can work in Estonia without the requirement for the permission of the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the average salary generally applicable to foreigners.
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.
Information concerning frontier workers who are UK citizens
- The UK Withdrawal Agreement also ensures the protection of the rights of frontier workers who are UK citizens who were working in a Member State before 31 December 2020 and continue to work there. Frontier workers have the right to apply for a frontier worker permit, which allows them to move more easily between the United Kingdom and a Member State, including Estonia, and to continue their employment.
- A frontier worker is a UK citizen who was living in the UK or in another EU Member State and working in a company registered in Estonia under an employment contract or working as a sole proprietor in Estonia before 31 December 2020 and continues to work in Estonia after 1 January 2021. A UK citizen who was working or is working in Estonia as a posted work is not a frontier worker.
- If it is possible that you correspond to the frontier worker criteria or if you have any further questions, please contact the migration counsellors of the Police and Border Guard Board by phone : 612 3500 (from 09:00 to 15:00 Mon–Fri); e-mail: email@example.com; Skype: EstonianPolice_MigrationAdvice.
United Kingdom Citizens’ right to vote and right to stand for election at Estonian local government elections
With the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, UK citizens have become foreigners who reside in Estonia under a temporary or permanent right of residence. The UK withdrawal agreement does not regulate election issues, hence, UK citizens who resided in Estonia prior to withdrawal, are no longer entitled to any Estonian election-related rights.
UK citizens have right to vote at Estonian local government elections only under certain conditions.
UK citizens residing in Estonia are entitled to vote at the Estonian local government elections if by election day:
- they have reached the age of 16 years;
- their permanent place of residence is in Estonia and their residence-related data have been entered in the Estonian Population Register;
- they reside in Estonia under a permanent right of residence or under a long-term residence permit.
Persons who have been adjudged legally incapacitated from voting and persons who have been convicted of a criminal offence and who are currently serving a prison sentence, are not entitled to vote.
UK citizens are no longer eligible to stand as candidates at local government elections in Estonia.
All Estonian nationals and all European Union nationals with the right to vote are entitled to stand as candidates at local government elections if they have reached the age of 18 years by the registration deadline for candidates and their permanent place of residence is in Estonia on 1 August of the year of the election. Since the UK has left the European Union, UK citizens are no longer entitled to stand as candidates, unlike EU citizens residing in Estonia.
The next local government elections take place on 17 October 2021.
More information on local government elections is available on the website: https://www.eesti.ee/et/kodakondsus-ja-dokumendid/kodakondsus/valimised/.