We recently attended an outreach event, organised by the British Embassy Bucharest, with regards to what will happen to British nationals, who are now living in, or who are planning to live in Romania, before the UK leaves the European Union.
The EU have provided the UK with an extension until June 30th, however, the UK could leave the EU before this date, if a deal is agreed.
The event answered, for many, questions which have been lingering in the back of the minds of Brits not just in Cluj, but across Romania. This article is aimed at providing a breakdown of the subjects discussed and to help share the information with those, who were not fortunate enough to attend.
Andrew Noble, the British Ambassador to Romania, in conjunction with Goran Mandic and Gerraldine Williams, stressed first and foremost, that there will be no change to the rights and status of UK nationals living in Romania while the UK remains in the EU. The topics discussed during the event were also to address the event of a no-deal Brexit, as this would be the most demanding outcome.
All the points mentioned in this article refer to subjects that were the most up-to-date version at the time, Andrew also stressed, that this is not the final deal.
What this article covers:
- Where are we right now with Brexit?
- Why is there a focus on the No-Deal scenario?
- What is the UK attitude towards rights of EU citizens in the UK and vise-versa?
- What are the main components of the current discussions?
- Rights of Residents
- Romanian Citizenship
- Access to Labour Markets
- Professional Qualifications & Education
- Property Rights
- Driving licences
- Other points of discussion
Where are we right now with Brexit?
Well, with only a few days to go at the time of the writing of this article, Andrew stressed that the UK government is firmly committed to deliver on the desired Brexit outcome, as voted by the majority of the UK and that the date for this exit, has been extended to June 30th, 2019.
During the planning, there was also the assumption that there will need to be a delay in order for Brexit to happen. Brexit requires many legislative changes within the UK and until finally decided, it cannot happen and therefore the UK government will need more time to implement it. This is also the case in the event that Brexit does not take place or happens in a different way.
Andrew informed that the likelihood is, that the UK will still be in the EU on March 30th, but there’s not a lot of other information available with regards to this subject and this is why the UK government has been working closely with the Romanian government in order to provide solutions for every scenario.
Why is there a focus on the No-Deal scenario?
Well, considering that the no-deal outcome would be the most drastic change and the one with the most demanding actions to be taken in order to protect the rights of the UK nationals living in Romania, this is the focus point. The reason for this, is that all other outcomes, where a deal is in place, would be provided for by the that outcome.
However, the ambassador also suggested, that as the media has reported, the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit is not the most likely scenario.
What is the UK attitude towards rights of EU citizens in the UK and vise-versa?
It was acknowledged that there may have been a lot of frustration regarding this particular subject, especially as there are very “general” comments applied to this situation, but it is still a political priority to deliver clarity on the situation regarding British nationals in the UK and the 3 million EU citizens in the UK. Andrew explained that the UK is leading and has the largest number of citizens affected, the UK government has “done their homework” much sooner than other EU governments and therefore, the British offer to EU citizens in the UK, is very well developed and has been tried and tested for many months.
There are over 130,000 EU citizens in the UK, who have already completed their paperwork in preparation for the leave from the EU, and that the application process is very fast and efficient. What the UK government has been requesting from the Romanian government, is for them to replicate the same rights offered to Romanian citizens living in the UK, and offer those to British citizens living in Romania.
On February 1st, the Prime Minister, Viorica Dăncilă and the Romanian president Klaus Iohannis, undertook to Jeremy Hunt (Foreign Secretary), that they would provide the reciprocity and since that date, the UK has been discussing with the Romanian government, what that reciprocity looks like, and those discussions are still on-going.
What are the main components of the current discussions?
Well firstly, Andrew Noble has stressed that this is not the final deal. This is because the UK feel that although the Romanian government is being quite generous than other member states.
The Romanian government’s preference is to legislate for the changes at the very last moment, which means, that if we leave the EU on the 29th March, the Romanian government will make the changes to the legislation on the 28th or 29th of March. They also intend to notify all British residents living in Romania by mail.
Discussions covered 3 main scenarios covering residency, professional qualifications, health, property rights and driving licences.
Rights of Residents
The Romanian government has addressed the needs of 3 different categories of UK nationals, currently residing in Romania and will be required to registered for their new status in Romania.
UK Nationals that have been living in Romania for 5+ years and may hold a permanent residency card.
In order to register for the renewed status of permanent resident, and obtain a residency permit for Romania, you will need to apply for before 31st December 2019.
- Proof of Residency (Lease contract, Property Act)
- Proof of Financial Means (Salary Statements, Pensions, Bank Account etc)
The Romanian authorities will also perform numerous checks for national security, public order and health threats, and the application will have a cost of 259 lei. This is the cost for the ID cards to be produced and the application processing fee, which is normally €120 has been waved. Processing the application can take up to 30 days.
Those who apply for, or are already holding a permanent residency permit, will not be subjected to the EU’s “loss of rights after absence” rule, which would normally result in a registered permanent resident losing their status if they leave the country for more than 5 years. This is a decision made by the Romanian government, and they’re basically saying that when registered as a permanent resident, you will retain this status forever.
This is in contrast to the UK, where an EU citizen who currently resides in the UK can request permanent (settled status) residency, however, you can lose it as an EU citizen if you are outside of the country for 5 years or more.
UK Nationals that have been living in Romanian for under 5 years
In order to register for the renewed status, and obtain a temporary residency permit for Romania, you will need to apply for before 31st December 2019.
- Proof of Residency (Lease contract, Property Act)
- Proof of Financial Means (Salary Statements, Pensions, Bank Account etc)
The Romanian authorities will also perform numerous checks for national security, public order and health threats and the application will have a cost of 259 lei. This is the cost for the ID cards to be produced and the application processing fee, which is normally €120 has been waved. Processing the application can take up to 30 days.
However, UK nationals living in Romania for less than 5 years will not be entitled to apply for a permanent residency permit, instead, they will receive a 5-year temporary residence permit. At the expiration of the 5-year permit, you will be able to apply for the permanent residency permit.
UK Nationals that have been living in Romania for less than 3 months before the “Brexit” deadline.
If you have been living in Romania for less than 3 months, and / or you are not yet in the Romanian registration system, you will have to complete your registration for residency no later than 3-months from the “Brexit” deadline (30th June 2019).
Once registration has been completed, you will then follow the same process in the 2nd and 1st category mentioned above.
The same rules will apply to family members and all registrations will take place at the General Inspectorate for Immigration in your county. All existing documents will remain valid until the 31st December 2019.
This will also be the case for British citizens who already hold a residence permit or card, you will still need to apply for a new card as the legal basis for your residency is changing as a result as no longer being an EU citizen.
Those who are interested in applying for Romanian citizenship, the process for applying will not change and Romania does support dual-citizenship. This is an individual decision which should be made by the UK citizen as to whether they wish to be a Romanian national or not.
Holding a dual-citizen ship in Romania, your Romanian citizenship would take priority, and therefore if you would require consular assistance from the British Embassy, there would be many restrictions as to what the UK would be able to do because the local nationality is suppressing all others.
The primary benefit of having dual-citizenship, is that as a Romanian citizen, you will retain EU freedom of movement, whereas those only holding a UK passport, will not be able to travel throughout the EU, unrestricted.
Access to Labour Markets
All British citizens that are residents in Romania at the time of the UK’s departure from the EU will still have full and unrestricted access to the labour market, and will receive equal treatment to Romanian or EU citizens.
UK nationals are not required to apply for a work permit, and your ability to work in Romania will be matched to your residency permit.
Professional Qualifications & Education
The Romanian authorities will require legislative changes, however, they will protect the rights of UK citizens to perform their profession in reciprocity with the rights of the Romanians living in the UK. Therefore, your professional qualifications will still be recognised and you will not lose the right to practice your profession.
The procedure for recognition of qualifications will remain unchanged and the same rules will apply as those to other EU citizens.
For applications filed after the UK leaves the EU, based on reciprocity, the application process will be the same as other EU citizens.
However, with regards to lawyers, a delay of 1 year will apply for lawyers who wish to practice law in Romania before they can apply for a Romanian licence. Lawyers who already hold a Romanian licence will be able to continue practicing, even after the UK leaves the EU.
Access to Higher Education
The Romanian government has informed that access to higher education institutions in Romania, will mirror that of other EU citizens. This is currently being verified and the UK are ensuring that all of the possible scenarios for UK citizens who wish to study in Romania, have been thought through.
As you would expect, health has been a key priority within UK negotiations with the EU and still needs to negotiate the “fine details” with other EU member states, individually. The UK are calling for all the rights of UK nationals living in the EU and EU nationals living in the UK, remain the same, until the end of December 2020. This will allow the UK to negotiate, in detail, with all of the individual EU member states and aim for complete reciprocity.
This is still something that the Romanian government is working on, and in the long-term, UK nationals will need to have medical cover, which is something that UK nationals already need to do in order to access the state healthcare.
The contributions are made in one of 3 ways:
- Through your full employment, deductions are already made from your income
- Self-employment via voluntary contributions
- If you are unemployed, but your spouse is employed, there will be a method to secure medical cover
The UK, however, is requesting the Romanian government to make their offer to the UK more generous, as Romanian citizens living in the UK are not required to make the same level of contribution.
The Romanian Government has since told the UK Government, that the following will have free access: students up to 26 years old, children up to 18, unemployed, retired (in Romanian system), pregnant and disabled individuals, social security beneficiaries).
Real Estate Rights
A UK National owning a property in Romania, will not have their rights affected by the UK leaving the EU.
UK Nationals owning land in Romania, will retain their existing rights upon the UK leaving the EU, however, UK nationals interested in purchasing land after 29th March, 2019, different rules will apply. These rules are still being outlined and the UK and Romanian government are working on an agreement.
At the moment, according to the Romanian constitution you must be a Romanian or an EU citizen to buy and own land in Romania and will be required to negotiate a bilateral deal with the EU in order to allow UK citizens to own land in Romania.
UK Nationals holding a valid UK licence will not need to apply for an international driving licence, nor will they need to apply for a Romanian driving licence. However, it can be swapped for a Romanian licence.
Other points of discussion
Those attending the meeting were also given the opportunity to ask questions. Although, they’re not directly connected to the negotiations with the Romanian government, the UK government representatives tried their best to answer the questions given.
GOV UK – Living in Romania