UK says needs 1,200 officials to register EU nationals after Brexit

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will need a total of 1,200 government officials to help register millions of European Union citizens living in the country after the country leaves the bloc in 2019, interior minister Amber Rudd said on Tuesday.

The government has so far recruited 700 officials and will need to hire about 500 more for the system to be operational by the end of next year, Rudd told a parliamentary committee.

The finance ministry has provided 50 million pounds ($66 million) to help cover the cost of setting up the program, Rudd said.

“We are going to be testing and rolling it out in stages to make sure we get it right,” Rudd said. “We will be nimble on our make sure we recruit where necessary to keep it up.”

The legal status and rights of EU nationals is one of the thornier issues in Britain’s complicated exit from the bloc.

There are about three million EU citizens living in the UK.

($1 = 0.7592 pounds)

Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by William Schomberg