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Thursday, January 07, 2021

Brexit: How to live, travel and shop in the UK now that you have left the European Union

This may be the only time I'll advocate veering to the right!

(The following is for Spanish nationals visiting or living in the UK, so may not be relevant to you. However, I thought it was interesting to see this from the opposite point of view and particularly to see the disparities. The first glaring ones are that whilst Spanish tourists can stay in the UK for six months, British nationals visiting Spain as a tourist can now only stay for any 90 days in any 180-day period and need to have at least 6 months left on a passport to travel to most countries in Europe. See: Spain travel advice for more.)

A new phase began between the United Kingdom and the European Union on Friday, January 1, 2021, when the free trade and cooperation agreement that will govern relations between both territories came into force after the four years of Brexit negotiation.

The text ties up the main issues on trade, fishing, air transport, energy, mobility, etc. However, with the first rupture in the history of the common market, doubts assail citizens on both sides of the new frontier. Do I need a passport or visa to travel? Will I need a residence permit? Is roaming back? What will happen to the services of British companies in the European market?

Do I need a visa, passport or ID to travel?

EU citizens will not need a visa to enter the UK as tourists for stays of a maximum of six months. Spaniards, just as nationals of other EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, for the moment, can enter the UK with their national identity document and can always do so with a valid passport, even if it expires in less than 6 months.

However, according to the Foreign Office, the DNI will not be valid to enter the United Kingdom from October 1, 2021, with the exception of people who have established or pre-established their status under the EU Settlement Scheme or have a Frontier Worker permit. In that case, they will be able to use it until at least December 31, 2025.

Can I stay more than six months?

Stays of more than six months are not considered tourism, so a visa is necessary. Foreign Affairs informs that on January 1, 2021, the new British immigration system comes into force, to which all citizens who wish to enter the United Kingdom to work, study or reside, regardless of their nationality, must submit.

The type of visa, permits and conditions vary if it is a question of qualified workers with a contract, investors, artists, health workers, researchers, students, etc., so the United Kingdom Government has made a website available for interested parties know the requirements and the type of document you need from Jan 1. In the process, depending on the case, knowledge of English, the payment of fees, a contract, a minimum salary or the sponsorship of an entity, among others, are required.

I already live in the UK, how does my situation change?

Adults, minors, retirees, workers or students. If you were already residing in the United Kingdom before December 31, 2020, you will need a residence permit from the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), although you have until June 30, 2021 to apply for it for free.

There are two different statuses: indefinite (for those who have been resident for more than 5 years and their families) and limited (for those resident for less than five years).

The EUSS means that citizens of the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland will be able to stay and continue working, studying and accessing benefits and services such as health care from the National Health Service (NHS) in general in the same way as they currently do.

I have permission, what about my family?

The spouses, domestic partners, dependent children or grandchildren and dependent parents or grandparents of the EU citizen may enter the UK at any time, provided the relationship existed before 31 December 2020 and at the time of entry in the United Kingdom. Future children will be able to enter the UK at any time.

For non-UK family members of an EU citizen who do not reside in the UK there are specific permits that they can apply for.

Can I go to study, now that there is no Erasmus?

From now on, Spaniards will also need a visa to study in the United Kingdom. According to the Ministry, those who will start from January 1 must verify if they are required to obtain a visa.

Those over 16 years of age can apply if the accredited institution where they are to start can act as a 'sponsor'. If you are 16 or 17 years old and want to study at an independent British school, you must apply for a child student visa.

In the case of courses of up to 6 months duration (English training, business, literature ...), a visa will not be necessary, as long as you study at an accredited institution. In the specific case of English courses, there are short-term study visas of up to 11 months.

Will my academic and professional degrees be recognized?

Yes, the homologation of EU titles in the United Kingdom will continue to be carried out by the British agency UK NARIC. For the equivalence of British degrees in Spain or another member country, the procedure will be required for third States that are not members of the EU or the conditions that are included in a bilateral agreement. In any case, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Spain guarantees that the homologation or equivalence of university degrees may continue to be requested.

It is important to remember that, after Brexit, the procedure may require more paperwork, something that does not happen among the Twenty-seven [countries of the European Union]. In any case, the UK will continue to be part of the European Higher Education Area.

If something happens to me in the UK, am I entitled to medical assistance? Do I need insurance?

It depends. If you are going on a trip, you will only need the new European health card (Tarjeta Sanitaria Europea) in the United Kingdom, valid from this Friday [Presume they mean the rule is valid from 1 Jan 2021?]. But if you are going to be in the country for more than 6 months, the British Government requires the payment of a fee to the NHS. With a valid residence permit and payment of fees, healthcare is guaranteed.

In addition, migrants arriving in 2021 will have to pay an extra £624 per year and have at least £1,270  during the 28 days prior to applying for the visa.

Finally, Spanish citizens who are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will continue with their right to receive health care as before. As for travelers who require regular health treatment, such as patients requiring dialysis or certain types of chemotherapy, they will be able to continue receiving them until the end of 2021.

Is 'roaming' back? Will it cost me more to call from there with my Spanish contract?

It depends, the European Parliament decided in 2017 to end roaming in Europe, allowing you to call from any EU country without additional charges. This rule will no longer apply in the UK, so it is left to the mobile phone operators. Some companies in the UK have already announced that they will maintain conditions similar to the current ones.

Can I go with my pet?

Yes, if you have a microchip, passport or official certificate from a veterinarian, according to Foreign Affairs. They are required to be vaccinated against rabies and have undergone antiparasitic treatment. If the requirements are not met, pets could be rejected at the border or quarantined.

In the case of introducing a pet - a pet dog, cat or ferret - from the United Kingdom into the EU or Northern Ireland, given that the British authorities have not agreed to comply with the common health regime, a health certificate will also be required the animal, although the rabies antibody test will not be necessary.

Will my driving license in the UK work for me?

Usually yes. Visitors will be able to continue using their European driving license.

For residents, a single specification has been established. And it is that from 67 years of age you can be required to drive with a British license and the one issued in Spain or another Member State will no longer be valid.

Will the lorry queues at the border be repeated?

The United Kingdom has been left out of the single market, which means that there will be more customs procedures and controls of goods, with more delays at the borders.

However, the agreement reached this Thursday [24 Dec?] will allow trade without tariffs - tariffs - or quotas - maximum volume of each product - between the two parties, "the first agreement signed by the EU" that includes it, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has assured, although there will be a watch to make sure that the UK maintains the required labor, environmental and tax standards.

What about companies offering services in the EU market?

Services will lose all international free trade rights that they had until now. They no longer benefit, for example, from passports, which allow automatic access to the entire EU single market. Again, it is something that translates into more obstacles and bureaucracy.

However, non-discrimination standards, visa facilities for company employees, for digital commerce, as well as public tenders will be established.

What has finally happened to the fishing quotas? How does it affect us?

Fishing has been one of the main obstacles, but for the moment we breathe a sigh of relief: London expected to cut European quotas by 60% or 70% in three years, but a transitional period of five and a half years has finally been reached during which reciprocal access rights will remain unchanged.

European vessels will be able to fish for the next five years in British waters, but they will have to reduce their catches. The Galician fishing sector estimates that 1,400 tons of hake, monkfish, gallo (Lepidorhombus boscii) and cigala (Nephrops norvegicus, known variously as the Norway lobster, Dublin Bay prawn, langoustine) will stop being caught. The worst, they insist, will come from 2026, when London and Brussels will have to annually renegotiate the access of the European fleet to British waters.

What about the Gibraltar border?

Spain has reached a principle of agreement with the United Kingdom, in which it allows the application to Gibraltar of policies and programs of the European Union such as the Schengen agreement, a customs regime in terms of traffic of goods, transport or the environment, as stated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Arancha González Laya, when announcing the commitment.

Laya, who has not yet gone into many technical details, has explained that this means, in practice, the end of the Gibraltar border. "The Gate is demolished" and "mobility is greatly facilitated," she said, although we will still have to wait for the final treaty, which must be authorized by the European Commission.

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