The UK government is undertaking one of its largest direct mail campaigns to UK Nationals living in EU and EFTA member states with 365 000 people on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) database being contacted.
The UK Government mailshot will cover advice on the actions required to prepare for the end of the UK Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. The mailshot includes 5 248 letters issued to people on the DWP’s database in Belgium.
The letters will be sent to UK State Pensioners and benefit recipients giving them advice on how to register for residency and healthcare, exchange driving licences and check new passport validity rules online.
All UK citizens resident in Belgium should also be contacted by their Belgian communes soon with information on how to apply for new residency permits once the transition period is over. As the UK has left the EU new residency cards will be required as UK citizens will not be eligible for E / E+ cards (unless they are also citizens of an EU country). The transfer should be seamless, but UK citizens will need to apply for the new residence status and cards. In the meantime, exiting cards will remain valid for accessing commune and federal services etc.
Martin Shearman British Ambassador to Belgium said: “Since 2017, British embassies across Europe have organised 853 outreach events, with more than 510 000 Brits attending in person or online. We will continue to support them, including through our ongoing public information campaign.”
The UK Government has been running a public information campaign featuring online, radio and newspaper adverts across 30 countries informing UK Nationals of the actions they need to take. This is in addition to the hundreds of town hall meetings, street surgeries and online Q&As run by the UK’s Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates across Europe.
The UK Government has also allocated £3 million for charities and community voluntary organisations across Europe to assist UK Nationals that may need additional help to register or apply to protect their residency rights. This includes potentially at-risk groups, such as pensioners and disabled people and those living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties.
UK Nationals can find the most up to date information on actions they may need to take in the ‘Living in Guide’ for Belgium here.
Know your rights
UK Nationals’ rights to continue living in EU member states are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement (and Separation Agreement with EFTA countries), provided they are permanently resident and exercising their treaty/free movement rights by 31 December 2020. This is not affected by the UK’s ongoing trade negotiation with the EU.
Actions UK Nationals may need to take include applying or registering for residency, checking or registering for healthcare, exchanging UK driving licence, and checking passport validity.