Mobility Post Transition

Key facts: 

  • Business and staff travel between the EU and the UK will change after the transition period ends.
  • Visa-free travel will be granted but with (local) restrictions on work.
  • The EU and the UK to negotiate business mobility to replace the freedom of movement.

Travelling to the EU for work

The following has to be considered when travelling for business or sending staff to
an EU country:

Business travel

There will be visa-free travel for business and leisure purposes: 90 days in any 180 day period, but paid activities will be restricted. Local employment laws could apply, a work permit may be necessary, and there may be requirements on professional qualifications.

In most cases, short-term business visitors can attend meetings in an EU country under visa-free travel. However, they will have to check for each country they do business in, which activities are allowed before they start carrying out work. These could include research, training, trade fairs and exhibitions, sales, purchasing, after-sales services, tourism, translation and interpretation.

Sending staff

Local employment laws and immigration laws will apply when sending staff to an EU country. Businesses may also have to pay double social security contributions. Freelancers may have to comply with local employment and immigration laws as well.

Individuals can stay longer in an EU country by applying for a Single Permit, an EU Blue Card, residency under local immigration rules, or residency under the Withdrawal Agreement (if arriving before the end of the transition period).

A business in the EU

You may consider opening an office in the EU. Please bear in mind that an EU country can impose stricter requirements on investors and foreign-owned businesses from outside the EU (e.g. with regard to capital, ownership or economic need). However, some countries have made it easier for non-EU citizens to set up a business for (e.g. through e-residency).

To do

What’s next?

Until the end of the transition period, business visitors, contractual services suppliers and independent professionals can continue to do business, provide their services and send staff to work in the EU. The EU and the UK will have to agree a list of allowed business activities, access to markets for defined sectors, recognition of professions and skills levels, as well as conditions for investment. See chapters 9-11 in the Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada for examples of how the freedom of movement of people, the freedom to provide services and to set up a business could be replaced, and what the UK’s access to the EU market could look like.

Disclaimer At the time of writing, the transition period ends on 31 December 2020, and the changes outlined in this fact sheet will occur from 1 January 2021. If that date slips, the changes will still happen, but at a later date. For latest updates go to www.gov.uk/transition.

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