How UK Citizens get to Keep an EU Passport

Christopher Zenios07/06/20194min
The British referendum result to exit the EU caught the whole world by surprise in June 2016. It especially brought panic to Britons residing in the EU. What has followed the Brexit vote though, has been even more disconcerting for British expats. The failure of the British government to strike a deal with the EU on the exit terms has brought the fear of a no deal Brexit, leaving UK citizens residing in the EU, completely unprotected by their own country.

What is an EU citizenship?

According to articles 9 & 20 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union the EU citizenship is automatically granted to anyone who is a national of an EU country and gives them the rights to travel and live anywhere in the European Union, vote and participate as candidate in EU elections as well as, seek diplomatic protection globally by any EU country.

When a country ceases to be a member of the European Union, its nationals will no longer hold EU citizenship, unless they hold dual nationality with another EU member state. 


When a country ceases to be a member of the European Union, its nationals will no longer hold EU citizenship, unless they hold dual nationality with another EU member state.

How many UK nationals live in European Union?

According to a United Nations estimate, there are 1.3 million British expats living across the EU. The majority of them, 310,000 have chosen Spain as their country of residence.  France comes second with 157,000 and Ireland is next in British citizens’ population number with 112,000.

However, there are claims that the number is far greater, reaching 1.8 million as the above does not include non-registered, cross border workers and second homeowners.


What are the EU & UK doing to protect them?

British citizens living in the EU and EU citizens residing in the UK are currently protected with residency rights until December of 2020 which marks the end of a transition period agreed between the UK and EU.

Both sides have repeatedly expressed their intention to protect UK and EU citizens’ rights reassuring them that they would retain the same rights and access to benefits and services as prior to the Brexit. Until an agreement is established though, the fear of a no deal Brexit leaves all scenarios open.


No deal Brexit and other ways to retain EU citizenship

A no deal Brexit would result in the cutting of all ties between the UK and the European Union with no transition period, no trade deals and no guarantees on their citizens’ rights. Both Britons in the EU and Europeans living in the UK fear this scenario and are exploring the dual citizenship option in order to ensure their rights in their country of residence by applying for citizenship.

Each European country has different requirements for granting its citizenship but in general, it requires a few years of residency (5-7) that you can prove of, some basic knowledge about the country provided either by a written test or an interview and an application with the relevant fee paid.

Another way someone can obtain citizenship is through marriage. If their spouse is a European citizen, then they are entitled to it as well after a few years of marriage and residing in the country of interest.

Buying property in their country of residence could also grant them citizenship. Many European countries give the right to claim their citizenship provided the property exceeds a certain amount in value.

A few countries also offer the chance to obtain citizenship through investment programs.

Christopher Zenios

Christopher has always been a pioneer, a first adopter when it comes to technological advancements. Over the years, his expertise surrounded the real estate and digital markets and their evolution in today's society. After being the editor to various professional business news portals and blogs, he was selected to become the chief editor for HWC. Contact Christopher at +357-22029786 ext: 6110 or by email at [email protected] for editorial related questions.

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