Swedish citizenship applications jump as Brits digest Brexit

4:11 min

A record number of Brits have applied for Swedish citizenship after the result of the British referendum on EU membership was announced.

During Friday, Saturday and Sunday, over 100 Brits filed their application for Swedish citizenship. That can be compared to 440 applications from Brits for the whole of last year.

For the ten weeks leading up to the referendum week, an average of 20 Brits per week applied for a Swedish passport. But last week, a total of 129 Brits filed an application, and most of them after the leave-result was confirmed.

"It is a record number for a single week, but it is too early to say if it is a trend that will last," said Annette Grafen Silander, head of the citizenship unit at the Swedish Migration Agency.

So far this year (up until Sunday night) 615 Brits have applied for Swedish citizenship. Annette Grafen Silander notes that the number of people applying for citizenship overall have gone up this year, compared to the same period last year. That's why it's still unclear whether the British applications have increased disproportionately in a year-on-year comparison.

Someone who is preparing to apply is Gavin Maycroft, who works in culture and has lived in Sweden for 9 years.

"The main reason (to apply for Swedish passport) is that I would like to stay within the EU. I am a great believer in the European project, although it is not perfect, I don't see the logic or sense in my country leaving it in the first place, and I want to make sure that I securely keep myself within it. Secondly, I am very fond of Sweden, and have been for the years I have lived here... I am happy here," he told Radio Sweden.

So how much is it an emotional decision to apply for citizenship, and how much is it a practical one?

"I see practical problems in the sense of my freedom of movement and the possibilities of future options. I feel like I limit myself by being out of it," he said, but added that it probably is 60-40 between the two, where the emotional reasons weigh more. He simply feels more European than he feels British.

The only reason he has not already applied for citizenship is that he wants to check for how long he must go without a passport at all in the process, as he needs to be able to travel for his work and on holidays.

According to Annette Grafen Silander at the Swedish Migration Board the average waiting times for getting Swedish citizenship is currently 15-17 months due to a lot of pressure on the agency. And you do need to send in your old passport with your application, but there is no problem in getting it back during that period, as long as you let the agency know at least ten days before you need to go abroad.

Citizens of other EU countries can become Swedish citizens after having been here legally for 5 years. If you are married to, or co-habiting with a Swedish citizen for at least two years, you can do so after just 3 years.

Last year, there were just under 20,000 people with a British passport (but not a Swedish one) living in Sweden.