What changes for Brits in Norway after Brexit? British ambassador to Norway answers your questions

British Ambassador Richard Wood has responded to questions sent by The Local's readers in Norway.

What changes for Brits in Norway after Brexit? British ambassador to Norway answers your questions
Photo: AFP

Earlier this month, we asked for British readers in Norway to send in their questions related to Brexit and their rights after Brexit. We collected your responses and sent them to Ambassador Richard Wood.

Thank you to all those who got in touch.

I am a British national living in the UK, however I intend to move in with my partner who is Norwegian in Norway, will this still be possible and legal with Brexit looming, are there any additional things I should consider ?
– Thomas Gjaere

Hi Thomas, thank you for your question.  

The exact process for your move to Norway will depend on the date you move. If you move to Norway before the end of the transition period, that’s by December 31st 2020, the process will be as it is today. After moving you should register your residency with the Norwegian authorities within three months of your arrival. You will also be covered by the UK EEA EFTA Separation Agreement – see our page on the agreement for more details.

If you move on January 1st 2021 or later, you will be moving to Norway as a third country national. The process will be different – you are likely to need to apply for residency before you travel to Norway.  Please see the UDI site for details. The Norwegian government will be publishing more information on their sites in due course, so please remember to stay informed. We will be linking to this information via our channels and the Living in Norway guide when it is available.   

I’m a UK citizen who has previously lived in Norway but has since moved back to the UK. I am scared that I will not be able to return to work and live in Norway if I do not get back before January 31st with a job offer and contract. Is this true? Will I be unable to move back to Norway after Brexit? Does my time registered in the system in Norway for tax over the summer make a difference and count to my freedom to come back? 
– Nicholas Cooke

Hi Nicholas.

You have raised a good question about who is in scope of the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement. As we have secured a deal with the EU and EEA EFTA states, nothing will change regarding your right to travel to and reside in Norway on January 31st 2020. All UK nationals who are legally resident in Norway by the end of the transition period, that's December 31st 2020, will have the right to remain living in Norway.  

If you arrive in Norway with the intention to stay, you must register your residency to the Norwegian authorities within three months of your arrival.  Please see UDI's site for details regarding the length of time you can be outside of Norway without losing your residency status.  

Continues below

British Ambassador to Norway Richard Wood.

Will I be able to drive on my UK licence after Brexit? I do not wish to exchange it for a Norwegian one now since I will return to the UK in a couple of years. 
– Louis Kramer

Is it really necessary to change drivers licence? I heard the Norwegian Govt had plans in place to recognise a reciprocal driving right… Is that correct?
– Susan Hall

Hi Louis and Susan.

Thank you both for questions regarding driving licences.  

Our general advice for UK nationals who have moved abroad is to exchange UK licences for the local driving licence.  

During the transition period, the period between now and December 31st 2020, the current rules for driving licences from EEA-countries will remain valid for the UK, so in this period nothing will change. UK driving licences will remain valid for driving for both tourists and residents in Norway and may be exchanged for Norwegian licence without the UK licence holder being subject to a new driving test.  

After the transition period, current legislation already recognises UK driving licences for tourists. So, you can still drive using your UK driving licence but only as a tourist in Norway. 

The Norwegian government is considering amending the legislation to allow residents in Norway using a UK driving licence from January 1st 2021 to be able to swap their licence without taking a test. However, no formal steps to amend the legislation have been taken yet. Our advice is therefore, to exchange your UK licence to avoid the risk of complications after the transition period.  

If you do exchange your licence for a Norwegian licence, on return to the UK you will be able to exchange a Norwegian licence for a UK licence.  

Please use our Living in Norway guide to stay updated regarding any changes to driving licences next year. 

 I thought there was already an agreement in place that the citizens of both countries residing in the other were safe from the negative aspects of Brexit. Are you able to confirm this is true or untrue as many may have to seek further steps to maintain residency.
– Ian McFalone-Shaw

Hi Ian,

You are right that an agreement with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein on protecting citizens’ rights and resolving separation issues was first reached in December 2018. The agreement protects the rights of our citizens who have chosen to call each other’s countries home, as well as resolving a small number of other issues arising from the UK’s exit from the EU. This agreement largely mirrors the Withdrawal Agreement agreed with the EU and is called the UK-EEA EFTA Separation Agreement. You can read more about the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement on our page.  

In the future, you may be required to prove your residency status as a UK national who is in scope of the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement. The Norwegian authorities are introducing a new residency card system to ensure UK nationals residing in Norway will have documentation evidencing their status. This new system will be launched later this year. All UK nationals living in Norway will be required to apply for a new residency card. We will be providing more information on how you can do this once the system is in place. Please stay updated via our Living in Norway guide and social media channels.  

British children or children of British nationals resident in Norway are currently eligible for student funding via Lånekassen when they go to university (in the UK or elsewhere), will they continue to be eligible after Brexit? If not, will they be eligible for UK student funding given that their residency has previously been in Norway. 
– Peter Horne

Hi Peter, thanks for your question on student loans. UK nationals who currently have the right to the Norwegian student loan, Lånekasse, will continue to have this right going forward for as long as they remain in scope of the agreement. UK nationals who arrive in Norway after the end of the transition period will be categorized as third country nationals and may have the right to Lånekasse in certain circumstances. For more information see the Norwegian government site about Brexit.  

How do UK national students studying in the UK (or elsewhere) maintain residency rights in Norway when they are out of country during term time?
– Peter Horne

Hi Peter,

Currently, for all UK nationals with permanent residency in Norway, a continuous period of more than two years outside of Norway will mean you will lose your permanent right of residence. This will be extended to up to five years under the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement for UK nationals with permanent residency in Norway. There are exemptions that can apply to the calculation of absence. Please see the UDI website for more details.  

I’m on the cusp of gaining citizenship in Norway, will Brexit affect the possibility of dual citizenship after the deal or lack of it?
– Jack Draper

We have been advised to wait until February to apply for dual citizenship because then the application process is meant to have been simplified. But what happens if (when) Britain has left Europe by the time we apply so that we are no longer EU citizens?
– Rachel Mills

Hi Jack and Rachel,  

Thank you for your questions on dual citizenship. The fact that the UK is leaving the EU does not have any effect on your eligibility for Norwegian citizenship.  Eligibility is, in part, based on the length of time you will have lived in Norway with a right of residence. All UK nationals registered with the Norwegian authorities as resident in Norway will continue to hold the right of residence after our EU exit. Other requirements involved in a citizenship application (language test, citizenship test etc.) are also unaffected by the UK leaving the EU.   

I have a Norwegian social number etc. Am I right to think 'business as usual' [after Brexit, ed.] when having that?
– Jim Gallagher

Hi Jim, 

All UK nationals who are legally residing in Norway at the time of Brexit will be able to continue to live and work Norway in broadly the same way after Brexit. 

The key action that all UK nationals who are living in Norway need to take before the end of the transition period, that’s December 31st 2020, is to make sure they are registered as a resident with the Norwegian authorities.  As you already have a Norwegian social security number, or fødselsnummer, we can be confident that you are already registered. However, if you wish to check your status, please contact UDI.  

There are some actions you will need to take in addition to the above to ensure that you are fully 'Brexit ready' which you can find outlined on our Living in Norway guide. It is a good idea to check this website regularly as we will also provide information in due course about the new Norwegian residency card system. You can also sign up for an email alert to be sent to you when the website is updated.    

My mum (British) comes to visit us in Norway fairly often. She has always had her European E111 health card with her in case she needs medical treatment. What should she do after Brexit? Will there be a reciprocal agreement between the UK and Norway or will she have to get travel insurance? She's almost 80.
– Ann Stewart Pedersen

Hi Ann,

Thank you for raising this important issue. The UK Government always advises UK nationals to purchase travel insurance when going overseas, both to EU and non-EU countries. The EHIC (otherwise known as the E111 health card) covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home, but I want to stress that it is not a replacement for comprehensive travel insurance. For more information you can read our travel advice pages and advice on foreign travel insurance.  

The EHIC scheme will continue during the transition period. After December 31st 2020, EHICs issued to UK nationals may not be accepted in all EU/EEA states (including Norway). Please stay updated via our Living in Norway guide.  

Will there be any mutual recognition of qualifications between Norway and the UK post 31 January 2020 (e.g. for lawyers)?
– Sebastian Forbes

Hi Sebastian, 

It is not yet clear which professional qualifications will be recognised by EEA countries after the transition period. Our advice is therefore to get your UK professional qualifications recognised in Norway before December 31st 2020. You can find out where to request recognition of your qualifications on the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) website  

If you hold a professional qualification that has already been recognised by an EEA country, it will still be valid after Brexit.  

Will the immigration rules change? Can a British Citizen still move to Norway and work there without a visa?
– Trude Hill

Hi Trude,

Immigration rules will stay as they currently are until the end of the transition period on December 31st 2020.  

After this period, UK nationals will have the status of a third country national. This means that immigration rules for UK nationals arriving in Norway could change. You can stay updated via our Living in Norway Guide . 

What residency rights will the UK government afford my Norwegian partner, as my partner and as a mother of UK citizens, should we wish to return to the UK?
– Tom Morgan

Hi Tom,

A Norwegian citizen that arrives in the UK before the end of the transition period, that's December 31st 2020, will be covered by the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement and therefore would be able to apply for ‘settled status’ which would allow them to stay permanently in the UK.  

Those moving to the UK after the end of the transition period would be subject to future immigration rules. 

You can follow the British embassy in Oslo via GOV.UKFacebookTwitter and Instagram ; and Ambassador Richard Wood on Twitter and Instagram.

READ ALSO: OPINION: We shouldn't expect special treatment from EU just because we're British


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How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.

The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members. 

But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?

What is EU long-term residence?

Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level. 

This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge. 

The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions. 

What does the European Commission want to change?

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it. 

Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move. 

This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes. 

All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.

Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.

READ ALSO: Why it may get easier for non-EU citizens to move to another European Union country

EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.

Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications. 

The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.

A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits. 

The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country. 

Why make these changes?

Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says. 

Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.

Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.

READ ALSO: Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine. 

On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February. 

Will these measures also apply to British citizens?

These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit. 

The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.

As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status. 

These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.

What happens next?

The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped. 

In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people?

EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”. 

National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.