British citizens after BREXIT – what happens to the right to stay and work in Denmark?

Central London during Brexit

Ever since 31 January 2020, when the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland left the EU, British citizens have continued to be able to reside in Denmark under EU free movement rules. This no longer applies as the transitional period under the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the other EU Member States expired on 31 December 2020.

What does this mean for the british nationals living here and their family members, and what does it take to preserve their residence rights and continue with the life that has up till now been established here in Denmark?

I would like to clarify this, as I am getting more and more inquiries on the same topic.

In November and December 2020, The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration issued letters to the resident British nationals and to family members of resident British nationals that they must apply for a new residence card during 2021 as proof of their new residence status in Denmark because of BREXIT. In other words, today British citizens living in Denmark will be able to retain all of their rights, as they have previously been accustomed to under EU rules.

The new residence card retains the right to continue living in Denmark under the same conditions as EU citizens. Thinking closely about it, it may seem somewhat alienating to British citizens  –  who up until now have been accustomed to living under exactly the same conditions as  us  Danish  citizens enjoy  –  that suddenly they have to think about sending an official application to the authorities in order to have the right to reside in Denmark which  remains an EU country.  

Nevertheless, BREXIT means that British citizens who did not have a legal residence in Denmark and who did not exercise their right to free movement before 31 December 2020 must apply for a residence permit as third-country nationals – under the rules of the Danish Immigration Act – with The Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI) or the Danish Immigration Service if they wish to reside in Denmark after 31 December 2020.

The basis for residence – on what basis should you apply?

The requirements for documentation when submitting an application for a new residence document correspond to the requirements of the rules on freedom of movement under EU law – i.e. you have to be able to prove 1) that you are entitled to stay in Denmark as a worker, student, person with sufficient means, etc., and be able to prove 2) that you have taken up residence in Denmark before the end of the transitional period on 31 December 2020.

Therefore, there are several different options for applying for a residence card, which is why it is important to familiarize yourself with the conditions set out in the Withdrawal Agreement if you wish to stay in Denmark as either an employee, a student, a cross-border worker or self-employed person, or if you are simply a person with sufficient means to support yourself, for example if you are a retiree. Also, special rules apply if, as a resident British citizen, you receive public benefits from the Danish government, as there is a requirement that you must be able to support yourself and your resident family. If you are dependent on a family member, partner or similar, you can also apply for a residence document as a person with sufficient resources under the Withdrawal Agreement. In this case, it is the provider who must be able to prove that he or she has the means to be the provider on him- or herself, the applicant and any children or others to whom the provider may have an obligation to.

British workers can apply for a new residence card

If you have paid work in Denmark, for example, you can apply for a new residence card on the basis of this. Provided that all the conditions relating to, among other things, the requirement to carry out actual and real work here, a temporary residence card is issuedfor a period of 5 years. Similarly, cross-border workers who worked in Denmark before 31 December 2020 without living in here must apply for a cross-border residence card valid for 5 years.

Permanent residence permit – the right to live permanently in Denmark

If, as a resident British national, you have already obtained the right to permanent (unlimited) residence in Denmark either under the EU or the Danish rules, a new residence document granting the right of permanent residence under the Withdrawal Agreement muststill be applied for. Da previously valid permanent residence card will only be exchanged with a new residence card for permanent residence in Denmark.

Only after 5 years of residence in Denmark, British citizens can apply for a permanent (unlimited) residence permit. Only then, the requirements for the residence requirement are relieved, which means that resident British nationals will not lose their right of residence in Denmark if, for example, they cease to work, study, self-employment and more. It is important to note that the right to permanently residence in Denmark may, however, be at risk of being waived if, for example, you leave Denmark for more than 5 years.

The time of application – when can you apply?

You can apply for a new residence document under the Withdrawal Agreement from 1 January 2021 and the application must be submitted by 31 December 2021 to the Danish Agency for International Recruitment and Integration (SIRI).  SIRI has laid out a plan for the receipt of all applications in order to meet the 2 months of processing deadline. According to SIRI’s  advice, it is  one’s year of birth that determines when you and possibly your family members should apply for new residence status during 2021. No fees are charged in connection with the application.

As many different scenarios of cases where one’s life may have evolved in different directions since one first moved to Denmark, just as many different options, questions and answers exist for exactly what applies to the situation of each resident British citizen or her/his family members.

Undoubtedly, it is important to consult with either the authorities or an immigration and EU legal adviser who can guide you through the entire application process, so that you do not apply in unsuccessfully at the risk of getting a rejection on grounds that the new residence card has either been applied for on the wrong basis or that the required conditions are not met at all. 

Do you have any questions about BREXIT?

Please feel free to contact me for any questions by email to  or by phone +45 53 89 53 10  or send  me your request via the contact form on

You can download the notice implementing certain provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU with regard to the right to travel, stay and work in Denmark here (“BEK No 1700 of 23/11/2020”) – in Danish

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