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EU exit (Brexit)

This advice applies to Scotland

The UK will leave the European Union (EU) on 31 January 2020. This process is known as Brexit.

Brexit will begin with a transition period that's likely to last until 31 December 2020. During this period, the UK will still follow EU rules, and nationals of European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland will have the same rights to live, work and study in the UK as they do now. The EEA includes all EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

You can check which countries are in the EU on the UK government website.

Brexit will have effects on some areas of life in Scotland, but it's not clear what all of these effects will be. We're publishing new advice and updating existing pages to help answer your questions about Brexit. We'll keep updating our advice as more Brexit changes are announced.

Staying in the UK after Brexit

If you're an EEA national living in the UK, and you wish to stay after 31 December 2020, you should apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

You'll need to apply to stay in the UK even if you already have a permanent residence document or have lived in the UK for a long time.

See our advice on staying in the UK after Brexit and on keeping your family in the UK after Brexit.

If you're an Irish national, you won’t have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK. But see our advice about keeping your family in the UK after Brexit.

Brexit and your rights

Your rights to live, work, study and retire in the UK won't change after 31 January 2020. You can still prove your right to work by showing your passport or national ID card. If you're told you can't work because of Brexit, this might be discrimination.

Your rights to claim benefits and get help with housing won't change after 31 January 2020, either. If you're already claiming benefits or housing help, nothing will change before 31 December 2020. These rights might change after 31 December - we'll update our advice when we know more.

You can read more about how Brexit may affect EU citizens living in Scotland on the Scottish government website. This includes information about rights to housing, education, health and social care.

If you're a UK national living in an EU country, you can get country-specific information about how your rights might be affected on the UK government website. You can also read the guidance for all UK nationals living in the EU.

Travelling in Europe after Brexit

If you're travelling between the UK and the EU after 31 January 2020, you'll just need to show your passport or national ID card as usual. This applies to:

  • British citizens who are travelling to the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
  • citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland who are coming or returning to the UK.

You can get more advice about travelling to the EU after Brexit on the UK government website.

EU Citizens Support Service

If you think you’ll need extra support to apply for settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, you can contact our free, confidential and impartial EU Citizens Support Service. You might need more help if you:

  • have difficulty accessing a mobile phone
  • have limited access to the internet
  • find it difficult to get the evidence you need to apply
  • are at greater risk due to personal circumstances
  • have specific immigration or residency issues.
You can call the EU Citizens Support Service helpline on 0800 916 9847. It's open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Advice for businesses

If you're an employer or a business owner, you can read the UK government's guidance on preparing businesses for Brexit.

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