With the transition period drawing to a close, with or without a trade deal, the Government has issued some information regarding how life will change from next year. This includes alterations to how UK citizens will travel in and out of the EU, what will change if you are an EU citizen staying in the UK, as well as changes to businesses which import and export goods from the EU. The full policy changes, including updates, can be found at www.gov.uk/transition. Some of the most critical changes however we have summarised here.
Travelling to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change from 1 January 2021. If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. However, you may need a permit similar to a visa to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel. Your activities will have to be checked against all national legislations to verify if they are work permit exempt or not.
When it comes to border patrol, you may need to show a return or onward ticket as well as show you have enough money for your stay, and use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing.
EU citizen business travellers to the UK will be treated as third country nationals from 1 January 2021, like American or Canadian nationals. They will need to ensure that the activities they wish to perform in the UK are permitted for business visitors.
Regarding healthcare, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will only be valid up to 31 December 2020. From that date onwards you will need to buy health insurance before travelling.
If you are an EU citizen who desires to continue to live in the UK after 31 December 2020, you will most likely need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme before this date. Details of the application process can again be found online at www.gov.uk/transition. This does not apply to Irish citizens, or EU, EEA or Swiss citizens who have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Indefinite Leave to Enter the UK (ILE), but they may still want to apply.
When it comes to trade, things are a little more complicated. If Britain does not conclude a trade deal with the EU, it will automatically drop out of the single market and the customs union, the two main trading arrangements with the EU. If this is the case, then tariffs and full border checks would be applied to UK goods travelling to the EU. However, the UK Government has already confirmed plans to introduce import controls on EU goods at the border after the transition period ends on 31 December 2020.
Trade policy will depend on what conclusions are drawn in the talks between the UK and the EU between now and 31 December 2020, which at the time of writing are still inconclusive.