The United Kingdom (UK) is set to leave the European Union (EU). The departure date is currently uncertain following the EU accepting the UK’s request to extend Article 50 beyond 29 March 2019.

Should the draft withdrawal agreement be ratified by UK Parliament the UK will leave the EU on 22 May 2019. If not agreed the UK must set out its next steps such as a request for a further extension or leave the EU without a ‘deal’ on 12 April.

The following guidance outlines travel in a ‘no deal’ scenario published by the European Commission and UK Government. This is the default scenario unless a ‘deal’ is agreed. Changes would come into effect immediately following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Members seeking further information are welcome to contact ETOA’s policy team at policy@etoa.org.

This page was updated on 22 March 2019. The following material should be used as guidance only.

Immigration and Border Processes

UK citizens travelling to EU

  • UK citizens visiting Ireland will continue to enjoy free movement in accordance with the Common Travel Area arrangements between Ireland and the UK.
  • Visa free travel will be allowed for up to 90 days in a 180 day period in Schengen countries. This will include non-Schengen EU countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania) as the same rules are applied at their external borders. Time in a non-Schengen country does not count towards the 90 day limit in Schengen.
  • UK citizens must have 6 months validity remaining on their passport when arriving in Schengen countries and it must have been issued within the last 10 years. For non-Schengen countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania), 3 months after intended departure is required. Check a passport here.
  • UK will become a ‘third country’ of the EU and therefore UK citizens will be subject to extra entry checks at the EU border. Questions asked by border officials may include purpose and itinerary of stay and evidence of subsistence.
  • UK citizens will not be allowed to use entry lanes at the EU border reserved for citizens from EU/EEA/CH countries. Each member country will decide whether the UK will have their own entry lane or be required to join lanes with other non-EU countries.
  • The European Commission has proposed UK citizens to be exempt from a second security screening when transferring through an EU airport (‘One Stop Security’ system) for a ‘limited time’, subject to a favourable vote from EU member states.
  • UK citizens will be subject to ETIAS when introduced by the EU from 2021 for non-EU visa waiver countries. The fee will be €7 per person valid for 3 years and allow multiple entries.

EU citizens travelling to UK

  • Irish citizens visiting the UK will continue to enjoy free movement in accordance with the Common Travel Area arrangements between Ireland and the UK.
  • Visa free travel will be allowed up to 3 months for EU/EEA/CH citizens.
  • EU National Identity cards can still be used until at least 31 December 2020 (in the long term acceptance will be phased out).
  • EU/EEA/CH citizens will be able to use e-gates at the UK border and with a passport with less than 6 months validity.
  • UK Visa and Immigration / Border Force are to confirm but it is likely EU/EEA/CH citizens will have their own entry lanes (to continue using e-gates) rather than join non-EU lanes at the UK border.

Non-EU citizens travelling to UK and EU

  • Visa requirements (if applicable) will stay the same as before the UK’s departure from the EU.
  • There will be no change to the entry process at the UK or EU borders.
  • From June 2019, 7 non-EU citizens will be allowed to use e-gates at the UK border – USA, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, which may reduce immigration processing times.
  • Landing cards from all other countries will also begin to be abolished from June 2019.

UK citizens living in EU

  • For a stay lasting more than 90 days a residence permit or a long-stay visa from the national migration authorities of the EU state will be required (excluding Ireland). UK citizens resident in EU will no longer have the right to freedom of movement between member states unless they are a family member of an EU citizen.
  • UK citizens will continue to not be subject to immigration restrictions to live and work in Ireland, in accordance with the Common Travel Area arrangements between Ireland and the UK.

EU citizens living in UK

Prior to UK’s departure from EU – all EU citizens (excluding Irish) are required to apply under the EU Settlement Scheme, a free one-time application being launched by 30 March 2019. Deadline to apply will be 31 December 2020, in the event of a ‘no-deal’. For EU citizens living in the UK less than 5 years, pre-settled status will be granted; 5 years or more, settled status. Both offer broadly the same rights i.e. access to work and health but EU citizens with pre-settled status can only leave the UK for up to 2 years in a row without affecting their status (whereas for those with settled status the maximum is 5 years). Further information is available here.

Employers will not be required to undertake right-to-work checks post Brexit on existing EU employees legally resident in the UK prior to UK leaving the EU.

Arriving after UK has left EU until 31 December 2020 – EU citizens can live in the UK for up to 3 months without additional checks, after which a ‘European Temporary Leave to Remain’ must be applied for (a fee will apply but amount is currently unknown).

All non-UK citizens living in UK from 1 January 2021

The UK Government has proposed a new immigration strategy, subject to approval of UK Parliament, which would start from 1 January 2021 (even if a ‘deal’ is agreed). EU and non-EU citizens seeking employment would have the same single access route and would be required to satisfy the criteria of a ‘skilled worker’ to be able to access rights and stay in the UK for more than 1 year. A UK employer would need to sponsor the employee but the Resident Labour Market Test would be abolished (where an employer has to advertise a job for 4 weeks and consider applications from resident workers before offering it to a migrant). There would be no cap on the number of ‘skilled’ workers. A £30,000 annual salary threshold would be applicable (lower for Graduate entry jobs and those aged 25 and under) and the skills threshold would be RQF level 3 (A Level, Advanced Apprenticeship, Level 3 NVQs).

As a transitional measure (full review in 2025), temporary short-term workers at all skill levels would be allowed up to 1 year from specified low risk countries (to be determined). There would be no salary threshold and employers would not need to sponsor. Employees would have limited access to rights such as health.

An economic impact assessment of these proposals by the UK Government’s Migration Advisory Committee estimate an 80% reduction in long term workers from the EU. However, the UK Government may seek to vary these rules under bilateral agreements with specific countries.

Transport

Air

  • The UK will no longer be a member of the EU Open Skies Agreement but ‘basic connectivity’ of ‘point-to-point’ air services will be allowed between the UK and EU after the UK’s departure from the EU.
  • UK airlines will not be allowed to operate intra-EU flights.

Road

Licences / Insurance

  • Mutual recognition of driving licences by EU member states will no longer apply to UK citizens.
  • UK citizens may require an International Driving Permit (IDP) / Insurance Green Card to drive in the EU (decided by EU member states on an individual basis). In Ireland, an IDP is not required by UK citizens but a Green Card will be. A Green card can be obtained from insurance companies and in the UK an IDP can be purchased from Post Offices.
  • EU citizens will not require an IDP to drive in the UK but will need a Green Card or evidence of insurance cover.
  • Further information from UK Government is available here.

Coach Travel

  • The UK intends to sign the Interbus Agreement which will allow ‘closed door’ coach tours to continue.
  • The Interbus Agreement does not allow cabotage (pick up and set down of passengers outside the coach company’s home country) and it will depend on a national Government’s discretion whether this is allowed.
  • The UK intends to allow cabotage by EU operators on a ‘temporary basis’ (historically interpreted as 3 months). Therefore, an EU coach is allowed to pick up and set down passengers on a tour within the UK during this period but must return to the EU within 3 months. 
  • Scheduled regular coach services will be allowed to continue until their inclusion in the Interbus Agreement is ratified.
  • Due to longer procedures for customs and immigration at the EU border, members are advised that journey times are likely to be disrupted, especially in Kent. This should be taken into account when planning itineraries to comply with driving hours regulations.

Rail

  • Cross border rail services will continue to operate as normal until 30 June 2019, giving time for bilateral agreements to be agreed. It is very unlikely services will be stopped.

Tax

VAT/TOMS

  • As the UK becomes a ‘third country’ to the EU, UK citizens will be entitled to a VAT refund on goods/services purchased within the EU.
  • EU citizens will not be able to claim a VAT refund on goods/services purchased in the UK until legislation is passed by UK Parliament.
  • A UK version of TOMS is proposed by UK’s HM Revenue & Customs where UK businesses will only pay VAT on UK travel.
  • UK businesses trading in EU countries are still subject to VAT on EU travel and may need to register for VAT in each member state to pay and reclaim VAT on the price paid by the consumer. EU guidance on VAT is available here.
  • HM Revenue & Customs have yet to confirm if EU businesses trading in the UK will pay UK VAT. We understand this will not be the case but this could change depending on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Members can receive initial advice on a complimentary basis by contacting Elman Wall Bennett (contact details provided in the member area hotline page) or please contact ETOA’s policy team for further information.

Customs and Duty on Goods

  • Allowances and restrictions for goods brought into the EU from the UK will be re-introduced and subject to customs checks and duty if over allowance.
  • Animal origin products such as ham and cheese will be prohibited in a traveller’s luggage. Exceptions are provided for certain types such as infant food or for medical reasons.

Other matters

Health

  • The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid for UK citizens, unless there is a bilateral agreement between the UK and EU member state in which assistance is sought.
  • Medical prescriptions issued in the UK may no longer be recognised in the EU.

Card Payments

  • Charges on card payments may increase as transactions between the UK and EU will no longer be covered by EU rules limiting fees.

Roaming

  • Charges could be re-introduced for UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK by mobile communication providers for roaming services.
  • Some mobile operators (3, EE, 02 and Vodafone) have said they have no plans to re-introduce roaming charges for UK customers to the EU, but this is currently unknown for EU citizens travelling to the UK.

Overall links to Guidance

Frequently Asked Questions

We have compiled this list of FAQs on what might happen if a ‘no deal’ Brexit occurs.

This page was updated on 22 March 2019. The following material should be used as guidance only.

Check FAQs