UK Nationals: Travelling & Working in the EU After Transition
The UK’s exit from the European Union (EU) has understandably created uncertainty and confusion for UK nationals wishing to travel to, work, and live on the continent. In this article, we provide general advice on travelling, working, and living in the EU, plus guidance on how businesses can best prepare for post-transition.
Although the UK officially left the EU on 31st January 2020, the transition period negotiated as part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement means that travelling to, working, and living in the EU will remain the same until 31st December 2020. UK nationals will see no difference to travel, living or work arrangements during this time.
After the transition period has ended, the UK will officially leave the EU’s institutions, such as the single market and customs union. This will have an impact on tourists, business travellers, and UK nationals already living in the EU. It is important to be aware of the changes to avoid disruption to travel, work, and residency.
General advice for UK nationals travelling to the EU
The UK and EU have agreed visa-free travel from the UK to the EU and vice-versa after the transition period ends on 31st December 2020. Travellers from the UK will be able to visit the EU for a period of up to 90 consecutive days within a 180-day rolling period. This includes visa-free travel across the entire Schengen area.
UK travellers will need to ensure that their passport is valid for at least six months throughout the duration of their visit. This applies when visiting all EU member states except for Ireland, who already has a pre-arranged Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement with the UK. As such, UK and Irish citizens can live, work and freely travel between the UK and Republic of Ireland with no restrictions.
Things you may need to do before you go include:
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad. Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020.
You may need to:
• show a return or onward ticket
• show you have enough money for your stay
• use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing
General advice for UK nationals living in the EU
Any UK national wishing to continue living and working in the EU after 31st December 2020 must register to obtain a residency and work permit. This will enable UK nationals to secure their residency status and continue working while abroad. Similarly, people from the EU wishing to continue living in the UK must register for the UK’s government’s EU Settlement Scheme, enabling continued residency.
Residency documents and status
You and your family may need to apply for a residence status to confirm that you were already resident in the EU country you live in before 31 December 2020. You will have until at least 30 June 2021 to do this.
The EU country where you live may set up a system for applying for a residence status. The application should be short, simple and either free of charge, or cost no more than applying for a similar document, for example a national identity card or passport.
You will have until at least 30 June 2021 to submit your application.
Permanent residency documents
You will be able to exchange valid permanent residence documents for a new residence document free of charge until at least 30 June 2021. This also applies to valid domestic immigration documents that confirm your permanent right to live in a country. You may need to provide proof of identity and undergo criminality and security checks.
Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland
When the UK leaves the transition period, there will also be different travel and work regulations for Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. These countries are not members of the EU but operate in the European Economic Area (EEA). This means they follow the freedom of movement rules of the EU Single Market.
Travel regulations for leisure purposes will be broadly the same as for EU members: visa-free travel up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Business travellers on assignment can expect similar rules but may require a work permit. A residency permit and work permit will be necessary for anyone living and working in the EEA.
Switzerland is not a member of the EU or the EEA but has agreements via the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein also have a membership of. The UK-Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement ensures people living and working in Switzerland can continue to do so after 31st December 2020.
EU/EEA Nationals: Travelling & Working in the UK After Transition
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen living in the UK, you and your family can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021. If the application is successful, you’ll get either settled or pre-settled status. You may be able to stay in the UK without applying - for example, if you’re an Irish citizen or already have indefinite leave to remain.
The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. You must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020.
We can assist EU nationals in their EU settlement scheme applications. We have a dedicated team of UK immigration professionals, regulated by the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner.
EU nationals arriving in the UK after the 31st of December 2020
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can continue to travel to the UK for holidays or short-term trips, without needing a visa. Offshore workers will be allowed to enter the UK as usual without visa.
What you need to enter the UK
You’ll need to show a valid passport or a national identity card if you’re a citizen of either:
• an EU country
• Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
• You will not be able to use your EEA or Swiss national ID card to enter the UK from 1 October 2021.
EEA national working in the UK (new entrants post Brexit)
The way you hire from the EU is changing. From 1 January 2021, you will need to register as a licensed sponsor to hire eligible people from outside the UK.
Free movement is ending, and the new points-based immigration system will introduce job, salary and language requirements that will change the way you hire from the EU.
The new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and transform the way in which employers recruit from outside the UK.
You’ll need a sponsor licence to hire most eligible employees from outside the UK. This does not apply to Irish citizens.
We provide complete service in obatining sponsorship license and work visa applications.
Business travel to and within the EU: after the transition period
Once the automatic right of freedom of movement for UK nationals has ended, businesses will need to adapt to changes in travel and work regulations. UK nationals travelling to the EU on business will not require a visa for travel to the EU for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Longer stays will require a specialist visa.
Some EU countries offer a work permit exemption for a number of roles and activities. If the role does not qualify for an exemption, it is important to gain permission for work before travelling. Businesses should be aware of the complexities and differing interpretations of worker status in individual EU countries to avoid any confusion and prevent interruption to business activities.
Workers who live in one EU country but need to travel across the border to another country (e.g. from Portugal to Spain) must obtain additional documentation to prove their status as a cross-border worker. Companies who hire additional UK nationals after the transition period must also obtain work authorisation before travel.
How should UK businesses best prepare?
Businesses should prepare as early as possible for life after the transition period. Getting familiar with the rules will help to minimise disruption to employees. It is important to alert staff of the fact that they will need at least six months validity on their passport to travel to the EU. Passport renewals can take time, so businesses should act sooner rather than later to ensure continued operation.
Any businesses who employ UK nationals who currently live in an EU country should ensure employees apply for residency status. A1 social security certificates should also be obtained to ensure continued access to healthcare and services while in the EU. If UK nationals living and working in the EU Schengen area need to cross EU country borders, businesses should check if they qualify as a cross-border worker.
For businesses who employ UK nationals after the transition period, it is important for employees to be aware of their rights and permitted activities. All employees who take advantage of visa-free travel must be aware they cannot stay longer than 90 days in any 180-day period and must adhere to the rules of their work permit.
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