The impact of Brexit on UK and EU citizens

Dec 7, 2020 | Brexit, Business, Employment, International trade, Planning

The UK is leaving the European Union on the 1st of January 2021, leaving us just under a month to do the final preparations needed for a no-deal Brexit

We’ve already covered the ways a no-deal leave will affect your business, including imports and exports of goods to and from the EU member states post-Brexit

Besides the impact on businesses, it’s also important to consider how Brexit will affect citizens. Whether you are a business that employs an EU citizen, you have employees based in the EU or you travel to the EU for holidays, there are new rules and procedures you should be aware of. This article will guide you through them. 

EU citizens in the UK

In 2019, there were an estimated 3.7 million of EU citizens residing in the UK and it’s quite likely that your business employs one or more of them. There are certain things these people need to do to be able to continue making a living in the UK. 

All citizens of the EU, EEA or Switzerland need to apply for an EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK. The deadline for this is the 30th of June 2021, after which you may be asked to prove your rights to live in the UK.

Getting your status means being able to: 

  • Stay in the UK for longer than 3 months;
  • Get a job in the UK;
  • Enroll into a study programme;
  • Use the NHS;
  • Claim the State Pension;
  • Rent a home;

There are two statuses that you can get, depending on how long you’ve been residing in the UK prior to Brexit: 

  • Pre-settled status – applies to people that lived in the UK for less than 5 years. To get this status, you must have started living in the UK before the 31st of December 2020.

    Once you have the status, you’ll be allowed to leave the UK for up to 2 years without losing it and you’ll have access to all rights listed above.

  • Settled status – this is given to citizens that have lived in the UK for 5 years or more. To get it, you need to prove that you lived in the UK for 6 months out of every 12 months during the 5 year period.

    With this status, you’ll be able to live and work in the UK indefinitely, bring your family to live with you and live outside the UK for up to 5 years without losing your status (4 years for Swiss citizens).

    At this point, you are also allowed to apply for a British citizenship instead of the settled status. This means that you may have more rights, as you will obtain a British nationality. However, keep in mind that you may have to pay for the application for this and you may also be asked to give up your current nationality. 

To apply for the scheme, you will need to provide proof of:

  • Your identity (a valid passport, biometric residence card, a digital photo of your face);

  • Your residence in the UK (through your National Insurance number, tax and benefit records or any other required documents that can prove your residence);

It’s completely free to apply for the EU Settlement Schemes. If your application is successful, you will receive an email letter confirming your status. 

UK citizens in the EU

In 2019, around 1.3 million of the UK citizens lived in the EU countries – most popularly in Spain, Ireland and France. Those that wish to continue residing in these countries post-Brexit will also have to follow certain procedures.

After the 31st of December 2020, the Withdrawal Agreement will set out the new terms and rights for the UK citizens living in the EU. This agreement secures your rights to continue living in an EU country and receive the same entitlements to work, study and access publish services (such as healthcare or benefits).

Each of the EU member states may have different procedures and documents you need to provide in order to be able to continue lawfully residing in that country. Find out the rules for your country on this GOV.UK page.

You should be able to receive a new residence document free of charge and, in most countries, you have until 30th June 2021 to apply. 

Travelling to the EU countries

Whether you’re going on a business trip or just on a holiday, travelling to the EU countries will become more difficult after 1st of January, 2021. There are certain things you never had to worry about when travelling to Europe, but will have to consider from now on, including:

Border control

Depending on where you travel, you may have to show certain documents at the border control. For example, you may be asked to show a return or onward ticket and you may have to prove that you’ve got enough money for your stay.

You will also have to use a separate lane from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing at the airport. 

Visas for short trips

If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to most of the EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You will be allowed to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. 

However, keep in mind that different rules will apply in some countries. For instance, when traveling to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, visits to other EU countries will not be counting towards the 90-day total. 

If you want to stay longer, to work, study or for business travel, you may need to obtain a visa or a travel permit. 

Check your passport

Making sure that your passport has not expired will be crucial after Brexit. You need to ensure that it has at least 6 months left until the expiry and is less than 10 years old.

This rule doesn’t apply for Ireland – you can travel there as long as your passport is valid for the length of your stay. However, when it comes to other EU countries and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein, you won’t  be able to enter them if you don’t renew your passport. 

Get travel insurance

Up until the 31st of December 2020, we can use a European Health Insurance Card to have access to healthcare services during our travel to Europe. This will not be the case after Brexit. 

You need to ensure that you arrange your own travel insurance before your journey. You will have to pay for these – the amount depends on what services you want to have covered. 

Mobile phone services

Currently, all of the EU countries allow you to use your local mobile services when travelling to other countries, with no additional charges. With the UK leaving the EU, you will start getting charged more when you use your internet or call from abroad. Make sure you understand what the additional charges are for your provider. 

Driving abroad

If you’re planning to drive while on your trip to the EU, you need to ensure that you have all the necessary documents. These include: 

  • A valid driving licence; 
  • A vehicle log book;
  • An international driving permit (IDP) in some countries; 
  • A “green card” and a GB sticker if you’re taking your own vehicle; 
  • A hired vehicle certificate if you’re hiring or leasing; 
Travelling with your pet

If you currently have a UK pet passport it won’t be valid anymore.

From the 1st of January 2021, you might have to get things like blood tests and health certificates for your pet before you’re allowed to travel to the EU. You should start arranging this with your vet at least 4 months before you plan to travel and get advice on what you need to do.

Final word

The UK is still yet to agree on a meaningful deal with the EU, which means that a no-deal Brexit is now very likely. However, keep in mind that the rules and laws may still change closer to the day of leave, depending on what the Withdrawal Agreement is. 

You should also check your individual situation in all cases – the rules of the specific country you want to travel or reside in. While the EU as a whole follows similar laws, the procedures may differ slightly in each member state.

Get in touch…

Are you still unsure of how a no-deal Brexit will affect your business and need help with preparations? We should be talking!

At ASfB we have a friendly team of professionals who will review your business and the financial situation and advise you on the best steps to take. We tailor our advice specifically to your individual needs and wants. 

Our goal is to ensure that you meet Brexit with confidence and no questions left. 

Get in touch with us by calling on 01202 755600 or email to