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Denmark – No deal Brexit and British citizens in Denmark

Written by
Norrbom Vinding, the largest labour and employment law practice in Scandinavia and the market leader in Denmark.
All Brexit scenarios are still possible right now, so the Danish Government has proposed a bill for special arrangements for British citizens living and working in Denmark in the event of a no deal Brexit.

The UK is leaving the EU. However, the details of Brexit have not yet been clarified. On 15 January 2019, the British Parliament voted against the Withdrawal Agreement, which had originally been negotiated between the UK Government and the EU, and is now exploring alternative routes. This means that the basis of the UK’s exit from the EU is currently undecided.

Over the years, a large number of British citizens have chosen to settle in other EU countries, including Denmark. They have been able to do that because of the EU rules on free movement, which give EU citizens a right to live and work in other EU countries without a work and residence permit. After Brexit, British citizens will no longer be able to stay in the EU pursuant to the rules on free movement and will, unless other rules are put in place, be subject to national legal requirements regarding work and residence permits. This is an untenable situation for British citizens who already live in other EU countries, so it is essential to decide what rules will apply.

Had the Withdrawal Agreement been adopted, or if the Agreement is amended and then adopted in the coming weeks, it seems that British citizens living Denmark would still be entitled to reside and work in Denmark on basically the same conditions as today.

The bill that the Danish Government has put forward to the Danish Parliament, which will become relevant in the event of a no-deal scenario, involves establishing a temporary scheme that gives British citizens living in Denmark a right to stay on conditions that largely correspond to the current rules laid down in the Danish ‘EU Residence Order’. The EU Residence Order sets out the conditions and arrangements for EU citizens living in Denmark.

This means that British citizens will be able to continue to live and work in Denmark as they have done previously, obtain the right of permanent residence and be granted family reunification provided that the family unit existed before Brexit. However, with regard to a family reunification situation where family relations are not established until after Brexit, and with regard to deportation, the rules of the Danish Aliens Act will continue to apply.

The temporary transitional scheme will extend the validity of residence documents issued according to EU law, and the Danish Government is therefore encouraging British citizens to make sure that they have residence cards or have applied for residence cards prior to Brexit in order to be able to prove that they are residing legally in Denmark.

Key points

  • According to the bill (if passed) British citizens living in Denmark pursuant to EU law before Brexit will be able to stay in Denmark on conditions that largely correspond to the rules in the ‘EU-Residence Order’.
  • The scheme is temporary and will apply until a permanent solution is put in place.
  • British citizens currently residing in Denmark will thus be able to continue to live and work in Denmark legally without a work and residence permit.
  • It is currently advisable for employers to identify the employees affected and stay updated on the situation for the purpose of clarifying any uncertainties (hopefully) as quickly as possible.