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UK Citizens & Brexit

UK citizens are an important part of the cosmopolitan tapestry of life in Brussels. The Brussels-Capital Region has for many decades had a large community of British “expats” - residents who are UK citizens. Like all of Brussels diverse communities, the British in Brussels contribute significantly to the economic prosperity and intellectual capital of the Region, as well as its cultural vibrancy. Brexit does nothing to change these facts, but it did have a major impact on the Region’s long-term and newly arrived UK residents.

As the one of the Region’s primary providers of advice to International Brusselers, especially through our Expat Welcome Desk, commissioner.brussels has supported UK citizens in these difficult times. We have thereby become a hub of expertise on the administrative difficulties which impact the British in Brussels. With this dedicated chapter of our website, accompanied by series of webinars and newsletters throughout 2023, we hope to offer UK citizens a useful guide to life in Brussels in the post-Brexit era.

What is my status?

UK citizens residing in Belgium prior to the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) were able to safeguard their work and residence rights in Belgium by applying for an M-card. The deadline for applications has passed (31 December 2021), and there are limited options for late applications and appeal cases.
  • Late application: If you did not apply for an M-card before the end of the application period on 31 December 2021 while you believe you qualify, you may still submit an application where you can demonstrate reasonable grounds for not meeting the deadline. These circumstances must be communicated when the application is submitted. Specific arrangements exist for certain family members (see below 6) and for Special Identity Card (SIC) holders (see below 7)
  • Awaiting decision: If you have applied for an M-card but have not yet received a decision on your application, you continue to hold an Annex 56 (which proves you applied for an M-card), renewable as long as no decision is taken.
  • Refusal: If you applied for an M-card but it was refused, you have the right to appeal before the Council for Alien Law Litigation (CALL) within 30 days of the notification of the decision. You will receive a temporary residence document (Annex 35) pending the appeal.
UK citizens who were frontier workers in Belgium prior to the end of the transition period (31 December 2020) were able to safeguard their rights in Belgium by applying for an N-card. Their status is discussed in more detail below.

UK citizens who have settled in Brussels since the end of the transition period, or who are now thinking of doing so, are subject to the same conditions applicable to all third-country nationals. Third-country national refers to an individual who does not have the citizenship of a state which is a member of the EU or the Schengen Zone, nor of an associated state (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland).

Project funding

These pages, webinars and newsletters have been developed in a project funded by the EU’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve.
Brussels BAR Funding