Any British national with right to live in the Netherlands on 29 March can continue to live there
British citizens in the Netherlands have been told they can stay in the country in the event of a no-deal Brexit, as the Dutch government became the latest to offer guarantees to worried residents.
Any British person who has the right to live in the Netherlands on 29 March 2019 would be able to continue to live, work and study there, even if the UK crashes out of the European Union, according to a statement on the website of the Dutch ministry of justice.
An estimated 45,000 British adults in the Netherlands could expect a letter to arrive before Brexit day from the Dutch Immigration and Naturalisation Service (IND) that would serve as a temporary residence permit, in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal.
British nationals, during a 15-month Dutch transition period, would receive a further letter inviting them to apply for a residence permit at a cost of €57, the standard cost for EU nationals.
The guarantee applies to non-EU family members of British citizens.
The British in the Netherlands campaign group said they were delighted by the Dutch government’s decision. “After two and a half years of living in limbo many UK citizens resident in the Netherlands expressed their relief and said that for the first time they would actually be able to sleep properly that night,” the group said.
It added, however, that some issues still needed to be addressed, including social security benefits. “We hope that this will not be used as another bargaining chip.”
The offer followed similar decisions from Italy and Germany, while the French government has said it would guarantee the residence, employment and welfare rights of 160,000 resident British citizens living in France, as long as the UK made a reciprocal offer to French expatriates.
The European commission, with time running out for a deal, last month urged EU governments to be “generous” in helping British nationals secure their rights if the UK left without a withdrawal agreement.
The Dutch government has also pledged that any British nationals receiving child or health allowances would maintain these benefits in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The IND has been asking British citizens to wait to be invited to apply for permanent nationality so the application process could be handled in an orderly fashion. “The IND kindly asks you to wait for the invitation before submitting the application,” stated a sample letter, which promised that British nationals would get an invitation to apply for permanent residence by 1 April 2020.
The British in Europe campaign group has argued for the rights of all citizens to be protected if the UK left the EU without a deal. “A no-deal situation is a disaster because unless the EU27 put in place legislation to give us status by 30 March 2019 our rights fall away,” said Jane Golding, the chair of British in Europe.
In this scenario sorting out documents would be “a massive and overwhelming task in some countries”, she added.