Skip to content
Freeths - Law firm
Exit sign with EU flag and man with UK flag running opposite direction

The end of free movement for EEA citizens in the UK

Overview of The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill (the “Bill”) will bring free movement under EU law to an end and will make citizens of the EU, EEA, EFTA states of Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, and of Switzerland (referred to collectively as EEA citizens) and their family members subject to domestic UK immigration legislation. Further explanation of the status of EEA citizens residing in the UK prior to the implementation of the Bill (once it receives Royal Assent) is found here and details of the new immigration system is found here.

The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (“EUWA 2018”), as amended by the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 (“EUWAA 2020”) will transfer applicable EU law into UK domestic legislation as Retained EU Law at the end of the transition period. This Bill ends the provisions of EU law which would otherwise be retained which provide for the free movement of EEA citizens to the UK. The Bill also repeals section 7 of the Immigration Act 1988, providing that these citizens will require leave to enter and remain in the UK under the Immigration Act 1971.

The Bill protects the immigration status of Irish citizens once free movement ends. The rights of Irish citizens in the UK are provided for in the Ireland Act 1949 which declares that “notwithstanding that the Republic of Ireland is not part of His Majesty’s dominions; the Republic of Ireland is not a foreign country for the purposes of any law in force in any part of the UK”.

The Immigration Act 1971, provides a right to enter and remain for Irish citizens entering the UK from the Common Travel Area only. The Bill will provide for a right to enter and remain in the UK for Irish citizens, without requiring permission, regardless of whether they enter the UK through the Common Travel Area or via a different route.

The Bill also provides for reciprocal social security arrangements to determine which member state’s social security legislation applies and to determine which state is responsible for payment of certain types of benefit.

It is fully anticipated the Bill will receive Royal Assent with little to no amendment before the end of the transition period and that free movement will end on 31 December 2020.

Passage of the Bill as at 9 November 2020

House of Commons

05/03/2020 – 1st reading
18/05/2020 – 2nd reading
09/06/2020 to 18/06/2020 – Committee stages
30/06/2020 – Report stage

House of Lords

01/07/2020 – 1st reading
22/07/2020 – 2nd reading
07/09/2020 to 16/09/2020 – Committee stages
30/09/2020 to 06/10/2020 – Report stages
12/10/2020 – 3rd reading

Consideration of Amendments

04/11/2020 – Consideration of Lords amendments – Ping Pong
09/11/2020 – Consideration of Commons amendments – Ping Pong

Updated position:

Head to our Brexit Exchange where you will find all the latest updates and developments from our experts, regarding Brexit and how that affects businesses and individuals in a range of areas.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.

Client service

‘Doing the right thing’ is at the heart of Freeths. Find out more about our excellent client service and the strong set of values that guide the way we work.

Our values


Talk to us

Freeths are a leading national law firm with 13 offices across the UK. If you have a query about our services or just want to find out more, why not give us a call?

Contact: 03301 001 014

Choose an office:

Portfolio close
People CV Email

Remove All

Click here to email this list of people to a colleague.