UK nationals going to the EU for business travel in the event of no deal

18 October 2019

While there is a near continuous stream of Brexit-related news on immigration issues and prospective new laws, one of the often overlooked practical implications is for UK nationals travelling to the EU as business visitors. 

That is particularly the case if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, be that on 31 October 2019 or at a later date.  While a deal between the UK Government and the EU has been agreed, approval by Parliament and if not, a possible extension, remain highly uncertain.

The issues that UK national employees who travel to the EU as business visitors after a no-deal outcome will need to consider are:

  • Check passport validity and if necessary renew: UK nationals will be treated as third country (non-EU) nationals and will need to have a minimum of 6 months' validity left on their passport from the date of arrival in Schengen countries in order to be permitted entry. 
  • Be aware of the maximum amount of time allowed in the Schengen area: UK nationals travelling for business (meetings, attending conferences) would not need a visa for short stays in the Schengen area but should be mindful that they will only be allowed to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
  • Keep a track of days in the Schengen area for frequent travellers: Permitted time in the Schengen area from after the date of exit (such as 31 October 2019) can be worked out using this helpful calculator. While intended to be used by non-EU nationals, it should be applicable to UK nationals in the event of no deal.
  • Check whether the employee's proposed business activity is permitted: What business visitors are allowed to do can vary between the EU countries and so care should be taken to follow the relevant local rules.  In some cases, work permits may be required.
  • Expect greater delays when travelling: UK nationals would not have an on-going right to use the separate lanes provided for EU nationals.
  • Carry additional documents: When travelling to the EU, UK nationals may be asked to confirm they have:
    • sufficient funds available for the duration of their stay
    • a return or onward ticket
    • proof of accommodation
    • health insurance.

HR teams should communicate these key tips to their staff.

We will continue to publish updates of Brexit developments.  If you have any queries on these changes or any other immigration matter, please contact a member of our immigration team.

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