Many aspects of the UK and the European Union’s future relationship remain uncertain – but we already know some things will change from 1 January 2021.
Here are some of the most important things for individual citizens to think about, and others which still remain unresolved.
1. European trips will need more planning
From January, to visit any EU country – or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein – make sure you have:
2. You’ll stand in a different queue at borders
At border control, you should use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. Be prepared to show your return ticket and prove you have enough money for your stay.
So, a four-day long weekend in Portugal at Easter, followed by a fortnight in France in June, would count as 18 days towards your 90-day limit.
For countries outside the Schengen zone, the rules are similar – but check with the individual country.
3. Duty-free shopping will return
You can take advantage of duty-free shopping if you travel to the EU from 2021.
VAT refunds for overseas visitors in UK shops will also be removed.
4. Moving to the EU? Expect more paperwork
From 1 January, free movement of people between the UK and the EU will end.
5. New rules for EU citizens living in the UK
If you’re an EU citizen living in the UK by 31 December 2020 – or from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland – your rights will remain the same until 30 June 2021.
6. There’ll be a new immigration system
The government says it’ll treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and will aim to attract people who can contribute to the UK economy.
7. Trade will be different, inside and outside the UK
England, Wales and Scotland
It says there’ll be full guidance by the end of December.
The UK and EU have agreed to keep an all-but-invisible border, without checkpoints, between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
It means Northern Irish businesses can trade freely with the EU from 2021 without new paperwork or checks.
What is still to be resolved?
Aside from trade, officials are trying to agree other things including:
- Access to fishing waters
- Licensing and regulation of medicines
- Law enforcement, data sharing and security
Pensions and benefits
If you move to an EU country (except Ireland), Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland from January, it’s unclear if UK pensions claimed in those countries will be uprated (increased) each year, like in the UK.
Also, some benefits may only be paid for a limited time.
The government says it’s seeking to maintain arrangements in some areas, but rules are still to be finalised.
If you’re already living in the EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland by 31 December, the situation is clearer.
Meanwhile, British people living in the EU with UK bank accounts should check for changes from January.
Studying in the EU
You should also consider visa requirements, healthcare and travel insurance.
It’s not yet known if the UK will continue in the Erasmus student exchange scheme.