This article has been updated – it was originally published after a Brexit deal was struck between Theresa May's government and the European Union in November 2018.
The provisions on citizens' rights were incorporated in the revised divorce agreement negotiated by Boris Johnson's government with the EU. These will have legal effect after the UK leaves the EU on January 31, 2020 under the terms of the ratified deal.
The article summarises the rights of UK citizens living in the EU as set out in the agreement.
Many UK citizens living in EU countries have been worried about what will happen to them if or when the country leaves the union. If you are one of them here is what you need to know about what the Withdrawal Agreement says about the issue.
The agreement outlines the future rights of EU citizens currently living the UK, as well as Britons living on the continent (the section on citizens' rights is on pages 17-65).
The terms of the deal, approved by EU governments and the British and European parliaments, come into effect after the UK leaves the EU on January 31, 2020.
Q:Will I be able to carry on living in an EU country after Brexit?
A: Yes, the agreement safeguards your existing rights of residency up until the end of the transition period, which runs until December 31, 2020. This is a reciprocal arrangement with the EU under the agreement. This also applies to family members, although there are rules as to who is a family member. Rights are conditional on people remaining resident in their EU host country.
Q:What other rights does the agreement safeguard?
A: The agreement also guarantees the same rights concerning employment, housing, education and social security. But some professional qualifications will no longer be recognised, and self-employed people no longer have the right to provide cross-border services.
Q:What happens after the transition period?
A: If you want to continue living in an EU country and benefitting from associated rights after this period you will have to apply for permanent residence status in your host country. To do that you will have had to have lived in the host country for five years by the end of the transition period.
Q:What if, by the end of the transition period I haven't lived in the EU country for five years?
A: Don't worry. You will still be able to acquire the right to permanent residency by completing five years living in your host country, as long as your five years started before the end of the transition period.
Q:Will my permanent resident status be conferred automatically, with no further action on my part?
A: No, you will have to apply for your new permanent residence status in your host country no later than six months before the end of the transition period. The application process may vary between member states.
Q:Will I be able to continue working in the EU host country?
A: Yes, in general, you will have the same rights working in the EU as you have now.
Q:Will I be able to leave and re-enter my host country as I please?
A: Yes, as long as you hold a valid passport. However, there is a question mark over moving on to a country other than the host nation you are living in after Brexit. That is not covered in the document. Until the end of the transition period, you can move between member states freely.
Q:Once I have permanent residence status can I lose it?
A: Yes, if you subsequently spend more than five years away from your host country.
Q:I live in an EU country -- will I be able to move to other EU nations?
A: No, not as freely as you can now. The agreement guarantees rights in host countries but grants no automatic rights to move to other EU countries to live and work.
Q:I am a UK citizen; I have never lived or worked in another EU country. What will be my rights to do so after the transition period ends in 2020?
A: Good question, it's not covered in the document. However, after Brexit free movement for EU citizens to the UK is due to end. EU law on free movement is reciprocal -- so UK citizens may no longer be able to move to the EU as freely as they do now.
Further guidance on the rights of Britons living in the EU is available on the European Commission website, which includes information on individual countries.