Introduction
What happens now for UK nationals relocating to the Netherlands?
Transitional regulation
Upgrading withdrawal agreement permits to EU long-term citizen status in the Netherlands


Introduction

Although the United Kingdom and the European Union have found agreement in facilitating the trade of goods, nothing is provisioned for cross-border professionals on both sides of the Channel. On 31 December 2020 the free movement of persons between the United Kingdom and the European Union ended. UK nationals who relocate now will be treated in the Netherlands as third-country nationals.

This article highlights everything that UK nationals relocating to the Netherlands need to know.

What happens now for UK nationals relocating to the Netherlands?

Some matters remain the same for UK nationals relocating to the Netherlands, including the fact that:

  • no visa is required to enter the Dutch (or the EU or Schengen) border; and
  • visits for a maximum of 90 days for every 180 days are permitted.

The biggest changes applicable to UK nationals relocating to the Netherlands include as follows:

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, exemptions on the travel entry bans for EU citizens no longer apply.
  • After 90 days, UK residents will need a residence permit in the Netherlands.
  • The conditions are tough, similar to current options in the United Kingdom for third-country nationals.
  • Autonomous economic inactive stays (eg, a so-called 'pensionado') will no longer be possible.
  • Employment is prohibited on most occasions, even within the 90-day short-stay period. This will significantly affect the delivery of services.
  • Unrestricted access to services, such as healthcare or education, is no longer guaranteed.
  • Accrued rights for employee benefits will mostly not be conserved.

Transitional regulation

UK nationals with residence or professionals who have structural business interests in the Netherlands (eg, frontier workers and (self-employed) entrepreneurs) that started before 31 December 2020 may fall under the scope of the withdrawal agreement. Thus, they will be eligible to continue their lawful stay with a new residence permit, based on the former loose EU conditions. There are two categories:

  • residents; and
  • non-resident frontier workers and entrepreneurs.

Established UK residents in the Netherlands
Most UK nationals who were registered as residents in the Netherlands before 1 January 2021 and who continue to reside there may retain their EU citizen rights within the Netherlands. Some citizens have been informed about this option and invited to apply for a withdrawal agreement ID card. However, an invitation is not required. Individuals who have not been issued an ID card yet should apply now.

Conditions
The conditions for obtaining a withdrawal agreement ID card are as follows:

  • Actual residency in the Netherlands must have started before 31 December 2020 and continue afterwards.
  • Registration at the local municipality as a resident is strongly advisable; however, not compulsory.
  • The requirements under Articles 6, 7 or 14 of the EU Free Movement Directive (2004/38) must be met before and after 1 January 2021. Applicants must:
    • work, approximately, more than 16 hours per week or generate an income equal to, roughly, 35% (singles) or 50% (families) of the minimum wage in the Netherlands;
    • be self-reliant on a pension or savings;
    • be a family member of a person who complies with the previous requirements; or
    • be a student enrolled at a recognised educational institute.
  • Applications must be filed as soon as possible and no later than 30 June 2021.

(For an upgrade of this residence permit to an EU third-country citizen status, please see "Upgrading withdrawal agreement permits to EU long-term citizen status in the Netherlands").

Examples
James is 19 years old and has Nigerian citizenship. He moved with this mother, a UK citizen, to the Netherlands in 2017. At present, he studies in Groningen at an officially recognised university and has his own flat, sufficient means and health insurance. He will be eligible to acquire a Dutch withdrawal agreement residence card.

Margaret is 42 years old and a UK citizen. In 2018 Margaret relocated to Utrecht. Unfortunately, due to a bad break up with her partner, she was unable to work and could not support herself with other means. She applied for social benefits. The municipalities granted her the benefits but reported this to the immigration office. Due to capacity problems, it did not follow up. In the meantime, Margaret applied for the withdrawal agreement residence card, but it has now been refused because the financial support would not comply under the EU Free Movement Directive.

Frontier workers and entrepreneurs
UK professionals who have not established residency in the Netherlands may apply for a cross-border ID card. This serves as a general work permit and will exempt the holder's employer from the work permit requirement. Further, it will grant unlimited access to EU and Schengen territory, instead of the 90 days for every 180 days rule. Holders are also exempted from the strict COVID-19 travel bans.

Conditions
The conditions for obtaining a cross-border ID card are as follows:

  • The frontier work started in the Netherlands before 1 January 2021 and will continue afterwards.
  • The work that was and is carried out is 'real and actual work' carried out by an employee or self-employed person:
    • amounting, approximately, to more than 16 hours per week; or
    • generating an income equal to, roughly, 35% (singles) or 50% (families) of the minimum wage in the Netherlands.
  • Residency in the Netherlands is not required, but residency in the base country must be lawful.
  • Applications must be filed as soon as possible and no later than 30 June 2021.

Examples
Since 2016, Ali has worked for a bank in Rotterdam. He receives his salary in pounds in his English bank account and maintains his official residency in Bristol. Ali commutes every Monday and Wednesday and when in Rotterdam he stays at Hotel NY. Ali will be eligible for a withdrawal agreement frontier worker ID card.

Lisa is a self-employed digital design artist. Since 2018, she has had numerous assignments in the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. Each project included several visits to Europe. However, in total her revenues were small, an average of €500 per month, less than 50% of the minimum wage in any of those countries. Plus, her administration is not conclusive. The relation between the invoices and her stays cannot be determined. She is not eligible for the entrepreneur ID card.

Upgrading withdrawal agreement permits to EU long-term citizen status in the Netherlands

A Dutch residence permit under the scope of the withdrawal agreement secures the holder the right to continue residency in the Netherlands. It does not stretch to relocate the holder, now or in the future, to another EU member state. Under the national laws and conditions of each member state, the UK national, sooner or later, can choose to apply for citizenship of that state, to regain the status as an EU citizen. However, there is a drawback. In some countries, including the Netherlands, applicants must renounce their UK nationality. This will be a tough decision to make for many.

However, there is an alternative: the EU citizenship right. After five years' residency in the Netherlands, individuals can apply for the EU status of third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the Netherlands, as regulated under EU Directive 2003/109. An income and citizen's integration requirement may apply in the Netherlands.

When granted, UK holders can move within the European Union if they have sufficient funds to maintain themselves as economically inactive citizens. If that is demonstrated in the Netherlands, the relocated citizen will be eligible for a new national residence card with the ability to work unrestricted, as provisioned in Article 21(2) of the EU Free Movement Directive. This possibility to work freely – which seems to be a paradox with the economic-inactive background – is little known, even at the authorities of many EU member states. However, in practice, this means that a bank account with a stable balance of €15,000 to €25,000 can already be enough to reconquer the right to move and work anywhere within the European Union, including the Netherlands, if the formalities are taken for granted. As a safeguard, the acquired EU long-term citizen status will be preserved for six years, so that the holder can move back to the country of issuance with no questions asked.

Example
Fatima has Turkish and UK nationality and expatriated to Milan in 2013 and is now the holder of an Italian withdrawal agreement residence card. On 10 January 2021 she received a job offer from a company in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, she had to reject the offer due to the strict Dutch conditions to acquire a residence permit. She has now applied for a status as EU long-term citizen in Italy. When she has acquired the status, she will sell her house so that she can prove a balance of €50,000 in her savings account. Next, she will apply in the Netherlands, while she is still in Italy, for a Dutch residence permit as an economic inactive third-country citizen. After issuance, this will permit her to reside in the Netherlands and work and she can accept any job she wants. If it does not work out, she maintains the right for six years to return to Italy and pick up her life in Milan under the earlier acquired permit.

For further information on this topic please contact Julien Luscuere or Alexander Allwell at Maes Law by telephone (+31 85 902 12 70‚Äč) or email ([email protected] or [email protected]). The Maes Law website can be accessed at www.maeslaw.nl.