At its today’s sitting, the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) passed the Act that regulates the conditions for residing in Estonia after Brexit for the citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members.
As it is still not yet clear whether the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on the basis of a withdrawal agreement or without an agreement, the Act provides a solution for both cases in order to ensure the citizens of the United Kingdom residing in Estonia as smooth transition as possible.
If Brexit takes place on the basis of a withdrawal agreement, the Act ensures the conditions for living in Estonia laid down in the agreement to the citizens of the United Kingdom who are living in Estonia now or come to live here during the up to two year transition period, and their present and future family members. This would mean that, throughout the transition period, the EU law will continue to apply to the citizens of the UK, and they will be able to continue living in Estonia on the basis of right of residence, without anything changing in two years. The citizens of the UK arriving in Estonia after April 2021 would already fall within the scope of regulation of the Aliens Act, which means that they will require a residence permit for living in Estonia like all other citizens of third countries.
If the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal, the Aliens Act will immediately apply to the citizens of the UK and their family members living in Estonia. In such a case, the Act will grant them a temporary residence permit for settling permanently in Estonia, with the period of validity of up to five years, or a long-term resident’s residence permit, depending on whether they live in Estonia on the basis of temporary or permanent right of residence at the Brexit moment. All UK citizens who wish to settle in Estonia after the withdrawal of the UK from the EU will have to apply for a residence permit like all other citizens of third countries.
In the case of both withdrawal with an agreement and withdrawal without an agreement, the identity cards that have been issued will be valid until the expiry of the period of validity of a specific document. In the case of withdrawal with an agreement, the citizens of the UK will be issued residence cards from 2021, in the case of withdrawal without an agreement, from 1 April 2020, which means that the UK citizens settling in Estonia in the meantime will be issued identity cards, and not residence cards, as identity documents.
In the future, the United Kingdom will be treated like the United States of America and Japan, to whose citizens the immigration quota of Estonia does not extend. Regardless of whether the United Kingdom will leave the European Union with an agreement or without an agreement, it is important that the citizens of the United Kingdom should take care that the details of their place of residence in Estonia were registered in the Population Register.
As of February, 1335 citizens of the United Kingdom have registered their residence in Estonia and hold a valid ID-card, and 338 of them have a permanent right of residence.
76 members of the Riigikogu voted for the Act on Amendments to the Citizen of the European Union Act and Other Acts (Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union) (781 SE), initiated by the Government.