In 2016 the United Kingdom (UK) decided that it wished to leave the European Union (EU). This will also have consequences for Switzerland, since relations between Switzerland and the UK are primarily governed by the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU.
In the withdrawal agreement between the EU and the UK, the two parties have agreed on a transitional phase lasting until 31 December 2020. This means that the UK will continue to have the status of an EU Member State until this date.
The Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) between Switzerland and the EU thus continues to apply to UK nationals in Switzerland and Swiss nationals in the UK until 31 December 2020. During this transitional period, both UK and Swiss nationals will be able to acquire AFMP rights until 31 December 2020.
The UK is an important partner for Switzerland. The Federal Council wants therefore to ensure that existing mutual rights and obligations continue to apply and are even expanded after Brexit (Mind the Gap strategy).
Safeguarding citizens’ rights
At its meeting on 19 December 2018, the Federal Council approved the agreement with the United Kingdom (UK) on citizens’ rights post Brexit. This agreement protects the rights of Swiss and UK nationals obtained in the UK and Switzerland respectively under the AFMP (e.g. residency rights).
After the signing of the agreement in Bern on 25 February 2019, the Federal Council conducted consultation proceedings, which ran until 29 May 2019.
On 6 December 2019, the Federal Council adopted the dispatch on the agreement and submitted it to Parliament.
The agreement will enter into force on 1 January 2021, at the end of the transitional period. If the transitional period is extended by the EU and the UK, the agreement will come into force after the new end date.
UK’s withdrawal from the EU: bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU continue to apply
FDFA - Press release of 31 January 2020
Federal Council adopts dispatch on the agreement between Switzerland and the UK on citizens’ rights
Federal Council - Press release of 6 December 2019
Safeguarding relations between Switzerland and the UK in the field of migration post Brexit
Federal Council - Press release of 22 March 2019
Signing of agreement between Switzerland and the UK on citizens’ rights
SEM - Press release of 25 February 2019
Brexit: Switzerland and the UK guarantee citizens’ existing rights
Federal Council - Press release of 20 December 2018
(PDF, 446.65 KB)
This publication of the agreement is not legally binding.
- FAQ for UK nationals in Switzerland
Further information regarding the agreement on the rights of citizens can be found here:
Federal Social Insurance Office
Recognition of foreign qualifications
State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI)
Information of the Federal Council’s "Mind the Gap" strategy
Directorate for European Affairs DEA
Information on Brexit for Swiss citizens in the UK
Swiss Embassy in London
Information for British citizens
British Embassy in Berne
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