The agreement, which still needs to be ratified by the British and Swiss parliaments, affects around 43,000 UK citizens living in Switzerland and 34,500 Swiss nationals living in the UK.
It means that these two groups “will be able to continue enjoying broadly the same rights as they do now”, according to a statement from the UK’s Department for Exiting the European Union.
“This includes arrangements on residency, access to healthcare, pensions and education, social security coordination and mutual recognition of professional qualifications,” the statement continued.
The agreement is set to be concluded before the March 29th date of the UK’s exit from the EU.
Swiss parliamentary commissions are expected to examine the text in spring, a spokesperson for the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration told The Local on Thursday.
Today we have published agreements with Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein and with Switzerland on protecting citizens’ rights and resolving withdrawal issues as the #UK exits the #EU.— Department for Exiting the EU (@DExEUgov) December 20, 2018
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The timing of the agreement's implementation will depend on whether the so-called transition period agreed to between the UK and EU comes into force. If there is a transition period, there will be no immediate changes in current rules until December 31st 2020.
But in the case of a no-deal Brexit scenario, the new agreement would apply to UK nationals living in Switzerland and Swiss nationals residing in the UK before March 29th.
In that scenario, Switzerland would apply the agreement on a provisional basis.
Swiss–UK bilateral relations, including arrangements for the free movement of persons, are currently chiefly based on treaties between Switzerland and the EU. However, those agreements will cease to apply after the UK leaves the EU.
A separate, similar agreement with Liechtenstein also aims to protect the rights of UK citizens living in the principality and Liechtensteiners residing in the UK.