Should Brits in Austria get the Article 50 card if they have EU citizenship?

For British passport-holders in Austria, the Article 50 Card secures post-Brexit rights. If you already have EU citizenship, you do not need the Article 50 card but in some cases it is still worth applying.

Should Brits in Austria get the Article 50 card if they have EU citizenship?
British nationals with EU citizenship don't need the Article 50 card, but may want to apply anyway. Photo: Christian Lue/Unsplash

The Article 50 card is available to British citizens who were legally resident in Austria before December 31st, 2021.

Some Brits may have EU citizenship, either in Austria or another country in the bloc. 

What do you get with EU citizenship?

The main advantage of EU citizenship is freedom of movement throughout the bloc, something that is not possible with the Article 50 Card.

For example, if you or your partner got a job offer in another EU country or wanted to move for other reasons, you can move under EU freedom of movement rather than needing to go through the process for third country nationals which is now necessary for Brits, including those with the Article 50 card.

EU citizenship is also permanent — you keep it unless you decide to actively renounce it, unlike the rights granted with the Article 50 card which you lose if you are away from Austria for a certain number of years. 

And EU citizenship gives you the right to vote in EU and local elections (as well as Austrian elections, if you have Austrian citizenship).

READ MORE: What Brits in Austria should know as Article 50 deadline looms

Becki Enright, a freelance journalist and travel writer from Berkshire in the UK, has been living in Vienna for five years and recently became an Irish citizen through ancestry. She has changed her residency status in Austria to an Irish passport holder instead of applying for an Article 50 Card.

Becki told The Local: “I didn’t want to go through the process of applying for the Article 50 Card, even though you can leave the country for a greater length of time with the ten-year card.”

British-EU citizens who do not want to get the Article 50 card will need to change the nationality they are registered with Austrian authorities under. If you originally registered as a British citizen, you will need to contact your local Magistrat or MA 35 in Vienna to change your documentation to show your EU nationality. 

Becki said this was “not a pleasant experience” due to having to show extensive proof of income and savings.

What do you get with the Article 50 Card?

As part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, British people that were living in Austria before the end of the transition period on 31st December 2020 can apply for the Article 50 Card to retain their residency rights. 

In most cases, the application process is quick and simple, although some people in Vienna are experiencing long delays, as reported by The Local.

There are also two types of Article 50 Card – a five-year and a ten-year card.

People that have lived in Austria for less than five years are granted a five-year card, but those that have been in the country for more than five years are given the ten-year card. If you are granted the five-year card initially, you can upgrade to the ten-year card once you have lived in Austria for five continuous years. 

READ MORE: Reader question: Can I exchange my UK drivers licence in Austria now that the deadline has passed?

A big difference between the two is the length of time that a card holder can leave Austria without losing residency.

With the five-year card, a resident can leave Austria for up to six months each year without jeopardising their status. However, the ten-year allows people to leave the country for up to five years and retain permanent residency.

For example, EU citizens that live in Austria are only allowed two years of absence from the country under current freedom of movement rules. It would be relatively simple to return as an EU citizen due to freedom of movement, but you would need to meet the requirements of either studying, working, or having sufficient income to support yourself in order to move back to live long-term.

Useful links

British in Austria

City of Vienna – Immigration and Citizenship (MA 35)

Austrian Federal Government

Member comments

  1. “ EU citizenship is also permanent.” I question this. I was an EU citizen until Brexit, even winning the Nobel Peace prize in 2012, among with 550 million others. Then this citizenship was stripped from me, without even providing me with a vote. (I am a British citizen, but not entitled to vote in the UK, or anywhere now).

    If, for example, Austria leaves the EU, citizenship may not turn out to be permanent.

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Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

People who have more than one citizenship often hold multiple passports, so what does this mean for crossing borders? Here's what you should know.

Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

For many readers of The Local, gaining citizenship of the country where they live helps them to feel more settled – but there are also travel benefits, including avoiding the long ‘non EU’ queue when coming back into the Schengen zone.

But this week the problems associated with travelling while holding dual citizenship came to light, leaving many people wondering what they should know when they are entering different countries.

Put simply – which passport should you use? And do you have to carry both with you?

Financial Times journalist Chris Giles tweeted that the UK Border Force “detained” his dual-national daughter while she was travelling from France into the UK with her German passport – and not her British one. 

He went on to say that UK border guards released his daughter. According to Giles, the border staff said she should have had both passports with her “and asked why she was travelling on her German one”.

The rules on dual-nationality have not changed, but now that the UK is not in the EU, there are strict rules on non-Brits who enter the country (and vice-versa) which has made it trickier for travel.

For instance, UK nationals receive a stamp in their passport when entering Schengen member states because they are only allowed to stay up to 90 days within an 180 period (unless they have a visa or residency card).

READ ALSO: Brexit: EU asks border police not to stamp passports of British residents 

People coming from the EU to the UK can generally visit as a tourist for up to six months without a visa – but are not allowed to carry out any work while there.

So which passport should you show?

The first thing to be aware of is there are no specific rules on travelling with more than one passport. 

Travellers can choose to use whichever passport they prefer when going to a country. 

But one thing to note is that it’s worth using the passport that is best suited to your destination when travelling there. Each country has its own set of immigration and visa rules that you’ll need to research closely.

It could be that one passport is better suited for your trip – and you may be able to avoid visa requirements.  

READ ALSO: How powerful is the German passport?

In the case of the UK, many people are still getting to grips with the different rules that apply because it’s not in the EU anymore.

A question submitted to the Secretary of State for the Home Department in September 2021 provided some insight into this issue. 

The question from Labour’s Paul Blomfield asked what steps the UK government “is taking to enable dual UK and EU citizens to travel to the UK on an EU member state passport without having to further prove their UK citizenship?”

The Conservatives Kevin Foster said: “Border Force Officers examine all arriving passengers to establish whether they are British citizens, whether they require leave to enter or if they are exempt from immigration control.

“Where the passenger claims to be British, but does not hold any evidence of British citizenship, the officer will conduct all relevant checks to satisfy themselves the passenger is British.

Border control at Hamburg airport.

Border control at Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

“When dual nationals who are eligible to use e-gates travel to the UK, they will enter via the e-gates without being examined by an immigration officer.

“We recommend all dual nationals, including EU citizens, travel on their British passport or with evidence or their British citizenship to minimise any potential delay at the border or when commencing their journey.”

The Local contacted the UK Home Office to ask if there was any official advice. 

A spokesman said: “An individual can present whichever passport they desire to enter the UK, however they will be subject to the entry requirements associated with the nationality of the passport they present.”

They said anyone who is looking for more information should check out guidance on entering the UK and on dual nationality.

In short, if you present a German passport on entry to the UK you will be treated the same as any other German citizen – which can include being quizzed about your reasons for visiting the UK – as border guards have no way of knowing that you are a dual-national. 

Do I have to carry both passports?

There’s no rule requiring you to have both passports, but you won’t get the benefits of a British passport (entry into the UK without questions) if you don’t show it.

Likewise if you are a French-British dual national and you enter France on your UK passport, you will need to use the non-EU queue and may have your passport stamped.

Should I think about anything else?

An important thing to remember is that if you apply for a visa and register your passport details, the same passport has to be used to enter the country. 

It could also make sense to travel with both passports, just in case. 

However, note that some countries – like the US – require that US nationals use a US passport to enter and leave the States even if they are dual nationals. 

In general, it’s best to use the same passport you entered a country with to depart.

The rules and systems are different depending on the country. But many countries require people to show their passport when leaving – and they will either stamp or scan the passport – this is how authorities know that a foreign visitor hasn’t overstayed their time in the country. 

So if your passport is checked as you leave the UK, you should show the one you arrived with, just to ensure there is a record of you arriving and leaving.

However as you enter France/Germany/other EU destination, you can show your EU passport in order to maximise the travel benefits of freedom of movement.