Brexit: What UK nationals in Slovakia need to know

The UK has been granted a Brexit "flextension" until January 31, 2020. Here’s how the UK’s departure will affect UK nationals living in Slovakia.

British Union flags fly in front of The Houses of Parliament in London, January 22, 2019. British Union flags fly in front of The Houses of Parliament in London, January 22, 2019. (Source: AP/SITA)

In this article you can also read about:
-Residency in Slovakia after Brexit
-Driver's licenses, visa and passports
-Voting rights

Brexit negotiations can be described as complicated at best, and UK nationals in Slovakia have many questions regarding what their rights will be after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. In order to address Brexit-related concerns, the British Embassy of Slovakia hosted another informational Brexit session for all UK nationals on October 22, 2019 at the Carlton Hotel. A previous informational session was hosted on April 9.

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British Ambassador to Slovakia Andy Garth and other members of the British Embassy were in attendance. They were accompanied by members of the Foreign Ministry and the Foreigners' Police.

On October 28, the UK was granted a Brexit extension until January 31, 2020. However, if a Brexit deal is ratified before the extension, the UK could leave the EU earlier than the “flextension” date. UK nationals are advised to follow the recommendations below (dates are based on the original October 31 Brexit deadline) in the meantime and regularly check the British Embassy’s Living in Slovakia guide for Brexit updates.

Residency in Slovakia

Post-Brexit agreements with Slovakia are based on reciprocity. The current rights of UK nationals will be protected in Slovakia as long as Slovaks living in the UK are granted the same protection.

All UK nationals with permanent residence in Slovakia at the time of the UK’s departure from the EU will maintain their status. However, they must apply for and receive a new residence card by December 31, 2020. UK nationals are recommended to apply for new cards as soon as possible.

UK nationals who do not register with the Foreigner’s Police and receive a residence card before the UK’s departure from the EU will be considered third-country nationals. If you wish to stay in Slovakia for longer than 90 days, you must apply for temporary or permanent residence as a third-country national.

UK nationals and their family members without registered residence in Slovakia on the date of the UK’s departure from the EU may leave Slovakia under the same conditions as they entered the Slovak Republic no later than 90 days after the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU.

UK nationals who have had permanent residence in Slovakia for at least eight years, or who have married a Slovak citizen, can apply for Slovak citizenship. However, the application process can take up to two years.

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The Foreigners' Police launched an online reservation system on April 15, allowing foreigners to make an appointment with the Foreigners' Police ahead of time. To avoid long queues, booking an appointment ahead of time is highly recommended.

Voting and property rights

After the UK leaves the EU, UK nationals can still vote and run in local elections, but they will no longer be eligible to vote in European Parliament elections.

Property ownership is not dependent on EU membership, so UK nationals in Slovakia will maintain the same property rights after Brexit. However, the embassy recommends that property owners consult with their legal advisors prior to the UK’s departure.

Passports, visas, and driver’s licenses

Although UK driver’s licences will remain valid after Brexit, holders of UK driving licences residing in Slovakia may want consider exchanging their UK licence for a Slovak driving licence before the UK leaves the EU. UK nationals can do so if they have resided in Slovakia for at least 185 days.

For UK nationals with pets, pet passports will remain valid through the Brexit implementation period (December 2020). In the case of a no-deal Brexit, pet passport laws may be subject to change depending on the animal.

When travelling overseas, UK nationals must have at least 6 months of validity remaining on their passports. UK passport holders can check the validity of their passports by entering their passport details into this online checking tool.

Visa requirements for UK nationals travelling in Slovakia will not change in the case of a no-deal Brexit. UK nationals will be able to travel in Slovakia and other Schengen Zone countries without a visa for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. However, you must keep evidence of travel on your person (plane tickets, etc.) in case it is requested by national authorities.

The family members of UK nationals (ie. Slovak spouses), whose relationship to the UK national existed before the UK’s departure from the EU, will maintain the same immigration status currently set in place under the EU Settlement Scheme in the UK until March 2022. After this date, a new immigration system will be implemented. As of now, it is unclear what this new system will look like.

Labour Rights

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UK nationals with permanent residence working in Slovakia will maintain their labour rights following Brexit, meaning they will not be required to obtain a work permit, until the end of 2020.

In the case of a no-deal Brexit, UK nationals will be able to work in Slovakia if they have obtained a residence permit before the UK’s departure from the EU.

UK nationals without permanent residence working in Slovakia will have to obtain a work permit no later than 90 days after the UK’s departure from the EU.

“Frontier workers”, or those residing in Slovakia while working in another country, will maintain their labour rights until December 31, 2020. After 2020, the UK will seek arrangements in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Health, family and other benefits

In the case of a deal Brexit, UK nationals will continue to receive health and social security benefits in Slovakia through the Brexit implementation period.

In the case of a no-deal Brexit, access to healthcare could change for UK nationals after December 31, 2020. More information about healthcare for UK nationals living in and visiting Slovakia can be found on the NHS website.

Post-Brexit, the UK Government will continue to pay a state pension, child benefits, and disability benefits to eligible UK nationals in the EU. Pensions will be uprated in April 2020, 2021 and 2022.

If the UK departs the EU without a deal, the UK government will request EU member countries continue to protect the rights of UK nationals to healthcare and other benefits after the end of 2020.

Professional & educational qualifications

After Brexit, proof of professional qualifications from accredited institutions will still be recognised through December 2020. In the case of a no-deal Brexit, they will be subject to further negotiations after 2020.

UK nationals studying in Slovakia and Slovak nationals studying in the UK will maintain the same rights after Brexit for a transition period of seven years. If there is a deal, that transition period will start after the Brexit implementation period. In the case of a no-deal Brexit, the transition period will start on the date of the UK's departure from the EU.

Future developments

UK nationals in Slovakia should continue to check the British Embassy’s Living in Slovakia guide (you can sign up for email alerts directly on the site) for the most accurate and up-to-date information on Brexit.

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