Informative memo

 

On 31st January 2020, the United Kingdom left the European Union. A transition period followed, lasting until 31st December 2020 during which time, freedom of movement continued to apply. As the end of this transition period approaches, please take note of the following information regarding your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement and the procedure to follow in order to safeguard them.

The Withdrawal Agreement protects the right of residence for UK nationals living in Belgium before the end of the transition period, and their family members. The European Union has stated that UK nationals who are employees of international organisations in an EU Member State, are workers pursuant to Article 45 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. As such, they are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement, provided that they resided in the host State before the end of the transition period. This means that employees of international organisations who wish to give up their special residence permit and register with their municipality of residence are eligible for the status of beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement under certain conditions (see below).

Employees of international organisations are entitled to a special residence permit from the Protocol Directorate under certain conditions. This special residence permit guarantees the right of residence in Belgium, and is also a visa for the Schengen states. However, the special residence permit is limited to the duration of the function with the international organisation. In order to continue benefitting from the right of residence after the end of the function, all UK nationals and their family members will have to apply for one of the new statuses for beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement. In order to be able to do this, you will need to first obtain the cancellation of your special residence permit before registering as a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement with your municipality. For those who do not yet have a valid special residence permit, the procedure to follow is almost identical to the one applicable to EU citizens. (Please refer to the annex below for more information on the procedures to follow.) If your application for a new residence card is successful, you will be issued a new electronic residence card (M card) for beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Belgium has opted for an extended application period lasting until 31st December 2021 in order to make sure all beneficiaries have sufficient time to submit their application. During this period, the rights of UK nationals living in Belgium before the end of the transition period, and their family members, are protected. However, if the end of your function as an employee of an international organisation is after 2021 and you wish to wait until that time to request the status of beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement, then this is possible. In this case, you must make sure to register as beneficiary within three months after the end of your function or the cancellation of your special residence permit (whichever comes first).

It is strongly recommended to apply as soon as possible after the end of your function or the cancellation of your special residence permit (whichever comes first) in order to protect your rights for the future and ensure as smooth a transition as possible.
 

The new residence document

If you have a residence right, you will receive a residence card for beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement (M card). This card has a validity of 5 years, after you which you can renew your card or apply for a permanent residence right.

If you have a permanent residence right, your M card will mention your permanent residence right. This type of M card has a validity of 10 years, after which you can renew your card.

As a UK national or a family member with a residence right for beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement, you can still apply for a permanent residence right at a later stage, as soon as you meet the conditions.
 

Interim documentation

When applying for the new residence status, you will be given a certificate of application for beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement, covering all your residence rights until a decision has been taken.

Once a positive decision has been taken, your municipality will issue you the new residence card for beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement (M card).
 

Travelling outside of Belgium

In order to prove your status as beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement at the border, you will need to present both a valid ID and either the certificate of application or your valid electronic card for beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement (M card).

You will have to use the “ALL PASSPORTS” lane when travelling but on presenting the above mentioned documents, you will enjoy the same entry and exit rights as before.
 

Work

Under the Withdrawal Agreement, you have unlimited access to the Belgian labour market. The certificate of application you receive when applying for a new status and the new electronic card (M card) will specify this. It is automatic: you do not need to take any additional steps to continue working in Belgium.

For more information, please refer to:

  • The Brexit webpage of the Protocol Directorate of the FPS Foreign Affairs, which contains information specific to holders of a special residence permit
  • The website of the Immigration Office (https://dofi.ibz.be): This website contains general information on the criteria, procedure and documents to submit. You will find the latest news in the 'Brexit' section of this website. This section is available in French, Dutch and English and is updated as soon as new information becomes available.

 

Annex

Procedure to follow for protecting your right of residence

You will have to apply for a new residence card for beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement (M card) at the municipality where you reside.
 

I am a UK national or a family member of a UK national and I have a valid special residence permit

If you already have a valid special residence permit, to apply for the new status you will only need to present:

  • your certificate of cancellation of the special residence permit (to be requested at the Protocol Directorate via your international organisation)
  • a valid identity document (an ID card or passport)
  • a recent extract of your criminal record (extract from Belgium, UK or the country where you resided before coming to Belgium)
  • a certificate of employment from your international organisation. Ideally, this mentions your status as an employee of an international organisation (with a function located in Belgium), as well as your start and end dates in this function.

Please be reminded that only a valid identity card or passport will be accepted for UK nationals and only a valid passport will be accepted for family members who are third-country nationals.
 

I am a UK national and I do not yet have a valid special residence permit

If you are a UK national without a valid special residence permit, you will have to present:

  • a valid identity document (ID card or passport)
  • a recent extract of your criminal record (extract from Belgium, UK or the country where you resided before coming to Belgium)
  • proof that you entered Belgium before the end of the transition period either as an economically active person (workers or self-employed), as a person with sufficient resources or as a student. This is the same proof an EU citizen must present.

Please be reminded that only a valid identity card or passport will be accepted for UK nationals.
 

I am a family member of a UK national and I do not yet have a valid special residence permit

If you are a family member of a UK national without a valid special residence permit, you will have to present:

  • a valid passport
  • a recent extract of your criminal record (extract from Belgium, UK or the country where you resided before coming to Belgium)
  • proof that you are a family member who has joined or is joining a UK national beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement, before the end of the transition period. This is done the same way as for family members of EU citizens.

Do not forget to add a legalised translation of your criminal record when this extract is not in French, Dutch, German or English. Please be reminded that only a valid passport will be accepted for family members who are nationals of a third country.
 

I am a family member joining a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement after the transition period

Family members directly related to a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for the same status as the beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement after the end of the transition period. This includes a partner with whom the beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement was in a durable relationship with before the end of the transition period and still is at the time of the application, or children born or adopted after the end of the transition period. They will need to apply for the status in the same way as family members of EU citizens and prove the family relationship existed before the end of the transition period.
 

I am a family member who is not protected by the Withdrawal Agreement

Family members who are not directly related to a beneficiary of the Withdrawal Agreement, including partners who were not in a durable relationship with a beneficiary before the end of the transition period, are not protected under the Withdrawal Agreement. They will have to follow the procedures set out for family reunification with a third-country citizen. More information can be found on the website of the Immigration Office.