Stay in Scotland

First Minister's open letter to EU Citizens.

Citizens of the European Union who live in Scotland are being urged to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

In an open letter and video message,  First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said it is vital that every EU citizen who wishes to stay in Scotland completes an application by 30 June, 2021.

While it is the Scottish Government’s view that EU citizens should not need to apply to protect the rights they already have to live, work and study here, the UK Government has made it a requirement.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:

“My message to everyone from the EU who lives and works here remains this: Scotland is your home, you are our family, and we’d be privileged if you would stay here with us.

“We are drawing close to the end of the Brexit transition period, and the end of a year in which we have together faced the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In these times of uncertainty and disruption, I would like to once again re-assure EU citizens that Scotland values you for the contribution you make to our society, our culture and our economy.

“While I don’t agree that you should have to go through an application process to secure rights that you should automatically have, I do want to ensure that you are able to stay in Scotland.

“Many EU citizens have already applied for the Settlement Scheme – but many more do still need to apply.

“My message is a simple one. Please apply. Scotland is a better place because you are living here.”


The open letter and video mark International Migrants Day, Friday 18 December.

The First Minister’s video message is available to view on @scotgov social media channels including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram from 18 December.

The open letter has been translated into Italian, Lithuanian, French, Polish, Romanian, Spanish and German, and is being made available to public and third sector stakeholders.

Stay in Scotland social media graphics have also been translated into Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Spanish, French and German.

For more information on the support available, visit

To download the Stay in Scotland toolkit or graphics, visit

Full text of the open letter from the First Minister:

Dear European Union citizens living in Scotland,

I wrote to you last in October 2019 at a time of considerable uncertainty leading up to our exit from the European Union. Since then all of us in Scotland and across Europe and the wider world have faced the huge challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I would like to thank you for all you have done during this time as we have faced, and continue to face, this challenge together. You are of course our friends, family and neighbours in a year when the importance of these relationships cannot be overstated.

I believe that EU citizens in Scotland should not need to apply to protect the rights you already have to live, work and study here, but nevertheless there is a requirement, however unwelcome, to apply to the UK Government’s EU Settlement Scheme.

Thankfully, many of you have now applied to the EU Settlement Scheme and secured your status. Yet many of you are still to secure your status, and I must sadly reiterate that it remains critical that everyone who wishes to stay in Scotland must complete an application by 30 June 2021. Any EU citizen who is resident in Scotland before 31 December 2020 is eligible to apply, and I encourage you to do so.  

The Scottish Government’s Stay in Scotland campaign provides practical guidance and support to help you protect your rights and complete your application to the UK EU Settlement Scheme.

Working with our partners we fund an EU Citizens’ Support Service with a telephone helpline which is free to use and staffed by qualified advisors. In addition we part-fund a network of advisors in Citizen Advice Bureaux throughout Scotland.

Accurate information about your rights is crucial. That’s why the Scottish Government commissioned the human rights charity, JustRight Scotland, to produce a series of accessible guidance notes on EU citizens’ rights. These are available in six languages and will help you better understand your rights to healthcare, housing, banking and other services in Scotland after  31 December. 

You can find information on all the different support available to you at, or contact the helpline for free on 0800 916 9847.

In light of the devastating impact of the pandemic, I hope that these resources will help you understand and exercise your rights. Please use them and encourage others to do the same. My message to you remains the same: Scotland is your home, you are welcome here, we want you to stay.


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