EEA citizens are able to enter the UK without visa, with a national ID card or a passport. On 8th October 2020 the British government published a new guide for EU citizens who will enter the United Kingdom after the end of the transition period (after 1st January 2021), which confirms the possibility of visa-free entry for a period not exceeding six months. However, after 1st October 2021 EU visitors will not be able to use their ID cards to enter the UK, only their passports. However, EU citizens with settled or pre-settled status are exempt: they will be able to use their ID cards to enter the UK until at least 31st December 2025.

Hungarian citizens wishing to stay in the UK need to register with the UK authorities within a certain timeframe after Brexit. The current EU permanent residence document will no longer be in use, and it will not be possible to request it. Cards already issued will need to be “exchanged” for the new ‘settled status’. Although the UK authorities are not planning to require applicants to provide proof of their residency rights, we recommend as a precaution, due to potential gaps in official UK databases, that those wishing to stay in the UK after Brexit collect documents that (credibly) prove the (continuous) residence, employment, insurance etc. of both themselves and their family members.

The most important information regarding post-Brexit registration is as follows:

    • EU citizens (including Hungarians) living in the UK need to request the new ‘settled status’ through an online registration procedure called ‘EU Settlement Scheme’, provided that they will have been lawfully and continuously resident in the UK for five years by 31st December 2020.

    • Anyone who has not spent five years in the country by 31st December 2020 can, following registration, obtain ‘pre-settled status’, so that they can achieve the five-year period necessary for settled status (after this has occurred, they can apply for settled status). We ask citizens to actively monitor whether they have reached the five years of residency necessary for ‘settled status’, as the acquisition the new status will not be automatic, but has to be separated applied for by the citizen. Failing to apply will result in the loss of residence rights.

  • Settled status or pre-settled status is expected to be necessary in the future for EU citizens to continue to be resident in the UK, to take employment, to access public services, including the NHS, and to apply for UK citizenship.
  • ‘Settled status’ and ‘pre-settled status’ can currently be requested.

The deadline for applying for settled status is 30th June 2021 under the withdrawal agreement. Up until this date, the rights of EU-citizens arriving before 21st December 2020 will be protected even without an application. Anyone can register who arrives in the UK by the end of the transition period. We recommend that Hungarian citizens do not wait until the last minute to apply, but do so as soon as possible (taking into account that a valid ID document is needed for the application!)

The online application process currently consists of three main steps:

  • Applicants first have to prove their identity by scanning their passport and uploading a digital photo though the ‘EU Exit: ID Check’ mobile application. It is also possible to send the relevant documents by post in exceptional cases.
  •  Secondly, proof of address and 5-year residence in the UK is required for which, for example, providing a National Insurance (NI) number is sufficient. If an applicant does not have an NI number, then the address can be verified with another document, e.g. a P60 payroll form, bank statement, or utility bill.
  • Thirdly, applicants need to declare any prior criminal record.

As a result of the above, there is no need to provide proof of comprehensive health insurance, information on foreign travel, or level of income, or fingerprints. The UK Home Office will decide on ‘settled status’ based on the data provided during registration and on existing government databases.

EU citizens filing an application will only be required to provide proof in the event that (or for the period when) residence cannot be established on the basis of the UK databases.

The UK government intends to provide assistance by phone and online with the conduct of the registration process.

It is expected that the requirement for “continuous” residence will mean that the applicant has not been away from the UK for more than six months in total in any twelve-month period. Exceptions to the six-month rule including staying abroad for important reasons such as being pregnant, giving birth, serious illness, professional training, compulsory military service, or employment postings. Even in these cases, however, the foreign stay cannot exceed twelve months. “Continuity” of residence is also interrupted by deportation or prohibition form the UK territory and by imprisonment (jail), and in these cases the required five-year residence period is restarted.

Holders of a ‘permanent residence document’ issued under the current rules will not be exempt from obtaining ‘settled status’, though it is expected that they will be able to “exchange” it in a simplified and cost-free procedure for the new ‘settled status’.