As Brexit looms closer and closer, the possibility of Brexit occurring without a deal in place between the UK and the EU is getting strong. So you might be wondering:
How Does a "No Deal" Brexit Affect My UK Citizenship?
Well, the short answer is that the Brexit does not affect your UK citizenship though it will affect the colour of your passport and it will affect what you need to travel to Europe. And a "no deal" Brexit will affect much more than just the colour of your passport.
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The Brexit (UK European Union Membership Referendum) Was Non-Binding But...
Though a majority of Britons voted to leave the European Union in 2016, the referendum was non-binding. However a lot has changed from the referendum:
- In January 2017, the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom ruled that the UK Parliament need to pass an Act in order for Brexit to go ahead, despite the referendum.
- However, the House of Commons readily complied with the court's decision and, on February 1st, 2017, the House of Commons passed the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act of 2017, by a vote of 498 to 114.
- Two months later, on March 29th, 2017, the UK Ambassador to the EU delivered a letter signed by Prime Minister Theresa May invoking the infamous Article 50, the article of the European Union treaty that allows countries to leave.
- But most significantly, on June 26th, 2018 the Withdrawal Act was passed meaning that the departure from the EU is now written into law in the UK.
The final step before the March 29th, 2019 departure is for the UK parliament to ratify the withdrawal agreement. The vote was supposed to happen on December 11th, but has been delayed until January 21st at the latest.
In real world terms, the referendum has already had a negative impact on those living in Britain as the GDP of the UK is estimated to have dropped by as much as 2%.
What Does Brexit Mean for My Passport/Citizenship?
In terms of how the Brexit affects your status as a British citizen in Canada or the United States, you still have exactly the same rights as you did on June 22nd, 2016. There is no need to renew or replace your current passport though, when you do, the colour will be different. As of today, you still do not require a visa to visit, work or live in Schengen area countries either. But whether or not there is a deal, you will likely need to apply for special permission to work, live or even visit the Schengen area as of March 29th.
For those UK passport holders who currently live in the European Union, the concerns are greater. Here are some of them:
- Will the EU revoke the right of British citizens to work and live in the EU before negotiations are concluded?
- Will EU member countries unilaterally revoke the rights granted British citizens by the European Union during the current negotiations?
- Will EU member countries revoke the right to public healthcare currently enjoyed by UK citizens in EU member countries during the current negotiations?
So, if you do not currently live in the European Union, you have nothing to worry about for the moment until you decide to travel to the EU after March 29th. At that point you will need at least 6 months validity on your UK passport in order to enter any Schengen country aside form Ireland. If you were granted a 10-year passport that is valid for slightly longer than 10 years, these months likely cannot be counted towards the 6 month validity.
The passport validity rules will apply for travel to and between countries in the Schengen area. These are the countries:
- Czech Republic
If you do live in the EU, or had plans to move there, you should know that it's extremely likely that visas or permits will be introduced in most if not all Schengen area countries of anything other than tourism. If there is no deal, tourist visas may come into play in addition to the passport validity requirement mentioned above. As yet, nobody knows the exact process with which you will be able to get your work permit but, if there is no deal, it's possible that the process could be different in every country, and could conceivably involve you having to leave the country and re-enter to apply. At best it will be inconvenient; at worst it could involve you returning to the UK.
Will British Citizenship Laws Change if the UK Leaves the European Union?
Though the ongoing negotiations concern the UK leaving the European Union, many saw the 2016 referendum as a referendum on immigration. It's possible that, whether or not the UK leaves the European Union by the methods described above, there will be significant future changes to the UK's nationality law. Because of the UK’s unique position of still having British subjects around the world, any changes to UK’s nationality law could have far-reaching consequences. If and when that happens, we will have all the details.