The UK Transition: 1 January 2021

The UK is leaving the EU single market and customs union and the end of the transition period will affect citizens, businesses and travel to and from the EU.

During the Brexit transition period, little has changed for UK citizens travelling, working, living or studying in the EU. However, from 1st January 2021 new rules will apply. You need to take action now if you're importing or exporting goods into and from the UK, travelling to the EU and living and working in the EU. For a more complete overview and for further guidance (including a transition check questionnaire) please look at the Government website. 

Importing and Exporting Goods
The process for importing and exporting goods will change in the New Year. If you buy or sell from the EU you will need to follow these new customs rules or you may not be able to continue trading.

Declaring Goods and the New Rules for Types of Goods 
Businesses affected will need to make customs declarations when importing/exporting goods to/from the EU. You can make the declarations yourself, but most businesses use a courier, freight forwarder or customs agent. The rules for importing and exporting certain types of goods will also change – you will need to check the licences or certificates you may need, the marking, marketing and labelling standards for certain products and review the rules for importing/exporting goods such as alcohol, tobacco and oil. 

Identification Numbering and Tax/Duties
Businesses will need an EORI number (Economic Operators Registration and Identification number) that starts with GB and will need to check the custom duties and tax. Detailed information on importing and exporting goods to/from the EU can be found on the Government website.

The Customs Grant scheme still has funding available for organisations to reimburse a number of costs associated with increasing their capacity and enhancing their ability to complete customs declarations, ahead of the new rules from January 2021. Check the website to find out if your company is eligible.

Travelling to the EU
As of 2021 there will be stricter regulations when visiting Europe, the details of which are outlined on the Government website. After the 1st January you will need to check the following documents when travelling to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

Your passport must have at least 6 months left before expiration and be less than 10 years old. If your passport does not meet these requirements you may not be able to travel.

Travel Insurance and Healthcare
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will expire in the New Year therefore your travel insurance must include appropriate healthcare cover, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.

Driving Documents
UK driving licence holders may need extra documents in order to drive or hire a car in the EU. In some countries this could include an International Driving Permit (IDP), a car insurance ‘green card’ to prove their car is covered when driving in Europe and a GB sticker.

It is also worth noting that the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU (introduced in June 2017) will end and there may be changes when passing through border control (such as showing a return ticket and demonstrating suitable accommodation and funds for the duration of your trip).

If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Travel to Ireland will not change. Different rules apply to different countries so do check the Government’s travel advice for further information.

Business Travel and Working in the EU
As well as the above, there are extra actions for individuals travelling to the EU for business. Business travel includes activities such as travelling for meetings/conferences, providing services (even with a charity), and touring art or music.

Entry Requirements
Individuals who travel to the EU for short-term work may need to comply with stricter visa or work permit requirements from the 1st January 2021. Check the entry requirements of the country you’re travelling to as you may need certain documents.

Professional Qualifications and Earing Money 
UK professional qualifications may not be recognised in the EU from 1st January. This will affect a range of professions (eg. lawyers, accountants and architects) and may require those wishing to practice their trade in the EU to requalify. If you are earning money, you may need to tell HMRC that you are working in the EU. You may also need to check whether you need to pay social security contributions in the country you’re working in.

Please note that the rules and regulations on visas and professional qualifications vary between member states and country-by-country guidance is available from the UK Government.


Posted: 3rd November 2020