Work, Study and Travel in the EU After Brexit: We’re Transitioning, Period.

On 31st January a Brexit deal was signed and sealed and whether you like it or not the UK is on its way out of the European Union. From now until 31st December 2020 we’ll be in the ‘transition period’, also known as the ‘implementation period’, when all the details surrounding Brexit will be finalised. 

If you’re thinking of working, studying or even visiting the EU as a British national you’ll need to be aware of what could change and how it could affect your plans. Although not a lot will change until next year after the transition period, by getting ahead of the game you won’t be met with any nasty surprises when 2021 arrives. 

Travelling 

During the implementation period things will stay the same regarding travel. Over the next year there are many details that still need to be decided on, but here’s what we know for certain so far:

Our European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will no longer be valid after 31st December 2020, so if you’re travelling after that make sure to take out comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. 

After the transition period, your passport will need to be valid for at least another 6 months (no matter how long you’re planning on travelling for) and be less than 10 years old. If these new terms confuse you, the government has made a handy tool to check if you’ll need to renew for you country before you travel. 

Short trips to the EU won’t require a VISA. However, if you’re planning on travelling for longer than 90 days within a 180-day period, you’ll need to apply for a VISA. The process will be different for each country, so take a look at the Government’s travel pages for specific and updated advice for specific destinations.  

Consumer rights will not change, so if your travel company goes out of business you should still be protected and entitled to a refund after Brexit. 

Other than that, the best thing you can do is sign up to the Government’s email notifications to get regular updates on how things will change after Brexit. You can sign up to specific countries or even get notifications for transition period updates. This way, when agreements are made over the course of the year you’ll be amongst the first to know. You can also visit the Gov website on visiting Europe after Brexit to find out more about how declaring goods, driving and even pet travel will change. 

Studying

For those thinking about studying abroad, Brexit has definitely been a source of confusion and anxiety as it has put the core funding programme, Erasmus, at risk. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Erasmus programme is an EU-run organisation made up of 33 countries that helps students to study and work abroad by providing funding and networking opportunities. The good news is that countries that don’t belong to the EU, like Turkey, Norway, Serbia and Iceland, are still part of the programme, which means it is entirely possible that we can remain part of Erasmus even though we won’t be part of the Union. 

Nonetheless, we could still be withdrawn from the programme by the government. However, the Department of Education has said that it is “committed to continuing the academic relationship between the UK and the EU”, so if it is the case that we leave, they have proposed a “Government Guarantee” that will replace Erasmus funding.

It’s important to note that any funding that was agreed up until January 31st will be honoured. Universities UK is encouraging students to continue to apply for funding via Erasmus during this period as it urges the government to continue funding either through Erasmus or a new national scheme. This means that whilst the future of Erasmus in the UK is uncertain, students should still be supported when studying abroad in the future. 

Again, if you’re planning on studying in a specific country, sign up to travel advice email notifications to stay up to date with any changes that could affect you in that particular location. You can also visit the Erasmus website for more information on the topic. 

Working 

Again, update yourself with information on specific countries. As set out in the Withdrawal Agreement, British nationals living in EU countries will maintain more or less the same rights regarding work, healthcare, and pensions during the transition period, until 31 December 2020. 

If you’re a British national and currently live in the EU, you’ll have until 30 June 2021 to apply for residency by proving that you lived in the EU before the end of the transition period. The government has said this application process will be simple and either very cheap or cost-free. 

Whilst a lot of this information may seem theoretical, it’s true that failure to prepare is preparing to fail. What’s important is that we’re equipped with all the relevant knowledge to make the transition as smooth as possible.  

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