The aim of the withdrawal agreement is to ensure as much as possible the rights of the British citizens and their family members lawfully residing in Belgium. The chapter on the rights of citizen's is not expected to change even though the withdrawal agreement has not yet been ratified.
The withdrawal agreement foresees a transition period until the 31st of December 2020. During this time nearly everything stays the same for British citizens and their family members. They will continue to be able to enjoy their free movement rights.
During the transition period the same rules continue to apply as before the withdrawal. Even though the United Kingdom will no longer be a part of the European Union, British citizens and their family members will continue to be treated the same as Union citizens. This will be the case both for short-term as well as for long-term stays.
If you applied for a residence permit as a British citizen or a family member of a British citizen before the 31st of December, your application will be examined according to the same rules and conditions as before the withdrawal. If your application is approved, you will receive a residence document (E or F card).
If you were already lawfully residing in Belgium before the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, you will during the transition period, initially keep your current residence document (E(+) or F (+) card).
All British citizens and their family members lawfully residing in Belgium at the end of the transition period will be considered as beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement. During the transition period every British citizen and their family members will have to be given a new residence document as beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement which mentions the withdrawal.
All beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement will therefore receive a letter asking them to go to the municipality where they reside to apply for their new residence card. You do not have to take any steps until you've received this letter. Mid-2021 at the latest all beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement will have received their new residence card. The letter with the invitation to go to the municipality to apply for your residence card will not be send before the new residence cards are available. You will be kept informed through our website.
As a beneficiary of the withdrawal agreement, you will keep your acquired rights of residence for life. The only difference between you and a Union citizen in this regard will be your residence card.
In principle you will not fall under the scope of the withdrawal agreement anymore and neither are the rules and conditions applicable to Union citizens applicable to you any longer. Instead the general rules and conditions for family reunification for third country nationals will apply to you.
These can be found on our website: https://dofi.ibz.be/sites/dvzoe/fr/Pages/home.aspx
For some family members however an exception has been foreseen in the withdrawal agreement. This is the case for certain family members who were related to a British citizen lawfully residing in Belgium before the end of the transition period or children who were born afterwards. The same rules as applicable before the withdrawal are applicable to them:
The following family members are concerned:
The entry rights and rights to stay of British citizens and their family members at the end of the transition period without a right to reside in Belgium, are a part of the ongoing negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union which will start after the withdrawal. Nothing has been determined yet.
These negotiations will most likely have an influence on the conditions for short-term stays (less than 90 days over a period of 180 days).
When applying for a residence permit after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, you can no longer apply for residence under the conditions set for Union citizens. Instead the general rules and conditions for third country nationals will most likely apply to you.
British citizen and their family member who are beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement can apply after 5 years of lawful residence in Belgium for a permanent residence. Periods of lawful residence both before as well as after the transition period will be counted. Temporary absences which have no influence on the right to reside of a beneficiary of the withdrawal agreement in Belgium, will not have any influence either on the possibility to apply for a permanent residence after a period of 5 years.
Once you have received a permanent residence, you can only lose it after an uninterrupted absence of 5 years from Belgium.
From the withdrawal onwards, you cannot any longer make use of the regulation for Union citizens, that when a Union citizen is not in possession of their travel document at the border, the Member State concerned gives them, before turning them back, every reasonable opportunity to obtain the necessary documents or have them brought to them within a reasonable period of time. As a British citizens you will, from the moment of the withdrawal always without exception have to be in possession of your travel document.
British frontier workers who were already active in Belgium before the end of the transition period, are exempted from visa requirements or other similar formalities.
If you have planned health care treatment before the end of the transition period in Belgium you will have to follow the same visa requirements as before the withdrawal and this for the entire duration of your treatment. This is the case both for yourself as for the person accompanying you and this until the end of your stay.