Although we have a new Prime Minister, it would seem that so far nothing has changed to bring us any closer to a Brexit resolution. In fact, it appears that a no-deal Brexit is becoming more likely as we approach the 31 October deadline.
HMRC has published guidance on visiting the EU after 31 October 2019. They have said that there will be significant changes to the rules for EU travel if there is a no-deal Brexit. This would affect you if you visit the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland from the time the UK is due to leave the EU at 23:00 GMT on 31 October 2019.
If you hold a British passport, you will need to ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months on the day you travel and be less than 10 years old (even if valid for more than 6 months). These rules will not apply for travel to Ireland, in this case you will be able to travel as long as your passport is valid for the length of your stay in Ireland. Even if there is a no deal, you will not need a visa for short trips according to European Commission proposals.
There will also be changes at border control.
- If there is a deal, there will be no changes to how you enter the EU or Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland until at least 31 December 2020.
- If there is a no-deal Brexit, your EHIC card may not be valid and you must ensure that you have proper health insurance coverage. The EHIC card will remain valid if there is a deal and it will also apply in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
In the event of a no-deal exit, there will also be other immediate changes for visiting the EU including the rules for driving, pet travel and mobile data roaming.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, any UK business that exports goods to the EU will be responsible for making customs declarations (as is the case for businesses currently exporting goods outside the EU).
If you have clients that trade with the EU, you should check that they have a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number. If they have not applied, it is important that they apply for an EORI number as soon as possible. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, they will need an EORI number to move goods into and out of the UK. This identification number will be required even if your client appoints a customs agent to assist in making customs declarations.
An EORI application is made to HMRC and usually takes up to 3 days to be processed. UK EORI numbers start with the letters ‘GB’. Most are then followed by a 12-digit number based on the businesses VAT number. There is an EORI checker available to check EU-wide numbers on the Europa website.
Although the EU have now extended the deadline to agree the withdrawal agreement – to 31 October 2019 – there is still a chance we will exit with a no-deal outcome.
In a pamphlet recently published by the government we are provided with some important areas to consider if we leave the EU without a deal. For example, any UK business that imports or exports goods will be responsible for making customs declarations and businesses that trade with the EU should ensure they register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number as soon as possible. This identification number will be required even if the business appoints a customs agent to assist in making customs declarations.
Some other areas that should also be considered as we prepare to leave the EU are also highlighted in the pamphlet, these include:
- Possible changes to the way in which personal data is handled if you transfer information into the UK.
- The possibility of new rules to be complied with if you provide services or operate in the EU.
- Manufacturers will need to be aware of regulatory requirements for UK and EU markets, including labelling, approvals and testing.
- No immediate action will be required if you employ EU citizens.
- The government has guaranteed any funding secured through EU programmes until the end of 2020.
- If you hold intellectual property, there may be changes that affect copyright, patents, designs and trade marks.