Practical suggestions for Belgians living in the United Kingdom
Notwithstanding the fact that the situation remains unchanged until 31 December 2020, and the rights of Brits and EU citizens wo immigrated to the EU or UK remain guaranteed, we recommend to keep yourself updated regarding Brexit developments and to ensure your administrative papers are in order.
We recommend Belgians in the UK to take 3 steps in particular:
1. If you have not already done so, you should register with the Belgian Embassy in London as soon as possible. You will find all the necessary information on the Embassy’s website.
2. Keep yourself informed regarding the evolution of Brexit directly from these authorities that concern you:
- The website of the Belgian Embassy in the United Kingdom.
- The website of the UK Home Office. By signing up to the following link, you will receive free email updates from the Home Office.
- Follow the posts of our Embassy on social media (in particular on Facebook and Twitter).
3. Register as an EU-citizen who immigrated to the UK. On 30 March 2019, the British Home Office officially launched the new EU Settlement Scheme, also known under “settled status scheme”.
In this context, we advise you to keep all documents regarding your stay in the United Kingdom. These could be useful in proving your legal residency in the United Kingdom at the Home Office’s request. Please keep your administrative file up-to-date and specifically your identity documents (identity card and, if applicable, passport).
The first step of the application process takes the form of identity verification. You can apply with either a Belgian identity card or a Belgian passport. In principle, there are three ways in which you can confirm your identity:
- Via an application on a smartphone: The process is easier with a Belgian passport because its chip can in principle be read with a smartphone app called “EU Exit: ID Document Check App”. If you own or have access to a smartphone you can download this app to scan your passport. Please see https://www.gov.uk/guidance/using-the-eu-exit-id-document-check-app for more details.
- By scan: Alternatively, you can have your passport scanned and verified for a fee in over 80 locations across the UK. The full list can be found under https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/eu-settlement-scheme-id-document-scanner-locations/locations-offering-chip-checker-services. Please note that this service is by appointment and currently unavailable due to the coronavirus. It is not certain if and when the service will be available again.
- By post: A Belgian ID card is sufficient to prove your identity under the scheme but it will not be possible to use the app to scan a Belgian ID Card. Contrary to a Belgian biometric passport, it will have to be sent by post to the Home Office for verification purposes. Please note that sending an ID card by post is not without risks.
The procedure continues with proof of your residency in the United Kingdom.The registration procedure is free of charge.
Belgian citizens who legally resided in the UK before 31 December 2020 have until 30 June 2021 to apply for “(pre-)settled status”. In fact, this is a grace period of 6 months which extends the transition period for EU citizens who arrived and settled in the UK at the latest on 31 December 2020. This procedure is compulsory for every Belgian citizen living in the United Kingdom who is not also a British or Irish citizen, and wishes to continue residing there.
Belgian citizens who wish to move to the UK and settle there UK after 31 December 2020 will no longer be covered under the withdrawal treaty but will have to comply with the British immigration law that will enter into force on 1 January 2021. The British Home Office will make an immigration permit (long stay visa) dependent upon a points-based assessment of candidates (see question 3). The conversion of a short stay of maximum 3 months, for which no visa will be required, to a long stay (regularisation) will not be possible during your stay in the UK. The correct visa for a long stay must be acquired before your departure to the UK. For more information about the procedure you can contact the British embassy in Brussels and the information portal of the British government.
For more information
If you are a Belgian citizen residing in the United Kingdom and you have additional questions regarding the impact of Brexit on your stay, you can send an email to: London.Brexit@diplobel.fed.be. You can also reach out to the Brexit department by phone: +44 (0)7423001276. We will try our best to reply to your query as soon as possible. You can also consult the recording of the information session held in Liverpool on 27 February 2020 on the rights of European citizens in the context of Brexit or the presentation slides used by the Belgian Embassy during this event.