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Travelling for business can either be a fun experience or perhaps a bit of a chore, depending on the way you look at it. From the moment the decision to leave Europe by the UK became a reality; the question on many business travellers minds was the impact Brexit could have on travellers from Europe to the UK, and vice versa.
At Holiday Extras we aim to provide you with comprehensive information to ensure your travel is as smooth as possible - both before and after Brexit. Let your business travel be more about fun and less about hassle!
How might a no-deal Brexit affect UK business travellers?
We can confirm the Brexit extension provides certainty that all existing business travel arrangements for UK business travellers to the EU will continue as normal, until at least the 31st January 2020. The good news is, provided you have an up to date EHIC card, you can still access state medical care in any EU country until the 31st January 2020.
Okay so you've probably heard speculation around the prospect of a 'no-deal Brexit', but what exactly does that mean for business travel? And, how could it affect a UK business traveller, or tourist to a European country?
A no-deal scenario means the UK would immediately leave the European Union with no agreement about the "divorce process" and without a 21-month withdrawal process. The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is committed to leaving the EU on the 31st January 2020 and, with discussions being as they are in parliament, there is still a possibility of a no-deal Brexit. This will depend on the results of the next general election that will take place on 12th December 2019. The outcome could change the Brexit deadline. If the current Prime Minister Boris Johnson secures an electoral win then the UK could still be leaving the European Union with, or without a deal at the end of January 2020.
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal there will be changes to how UK business travellers and tourists visit the EU, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland or Liechtenstein. A no-deal Brexit will change the rules for the following:
There may, however, be no immediate changes for UK business travellers after Brexit if the UK agrees a deal to leave the EU and settles the "divorce agreement" for a transition period. The complexity of leaving the EU is a new phenomenon. In truth, it may take several years before the UK can permanently leave the EU. Many things could still change over the next couple of months.
How could Brexit affect freedom of movement?
Freedom of movement of people is a founding principle of the European Union and it is seen as the cornerstone of the concept of European citizenship, respected in the Treaty for the European Union. It guarantees the rights of everyone in all EU member states (plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) to live, travel and work in any other country within the group of EU Member States.
The UK government is proposing to end free movement, but this is only subject to approval by parliament. The EU has ensured consistent rules for employers and employees when operating or working across the EU. The future applicability of these rules will be dependent on the outcome of negotiations on a future UK-EU relationship.
Until the Brexit extension of the 31st January 2020 (depending on the election results), not much will change for business travellers between Europe and the UK. There will continue to be freedom of movement and people, and goods will also move freely. The Association of British Travel Agents [ABTA] says travellers can move freely between Europe and the UK as before the vote. You will be able to move through UK ports and airports as usual, using the EU/EEA passport gates.
If you are a UK business traveller and you plan to drive in the EU don't worry, you won't need an International Driving Permit. Plus, if you're taking your own car, you won't need a Green Card for Insurance during this period of time either.
The European Health Insurance Cards issued by the European Union are still valid and all the passengers' rights and benefits from EU laws will continue to apply. When the UK formally leaves the EU, the remaining members will make negotiations with the United Kingdom on future 'freedom of movement' agreements.
What about a visa?
The government's proposals to end free movement could affect how tourists or business travellers enter the UK, for a period of 3 months or more. If the UK secures a deal, then there will be no changes to how you enter the EU or its Member States for a transition period. As a business traveller you can continue to travel and work without a visa during this time. If you're an Irish citizen you'll still be able to enter to work or study, without a visa - even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
You need not worry about visas for short trips after Brexit either, even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to European Commission proposals. You will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180 day period. There is a possibility though that you'll need a visa or permit to stay and work for longer.
According to the European Union justice minister, in the longer term, visas may be a requirement for UK business travellers who want to visit Europe. However, he noted that will be dealt with in the post-withdrawal negotiations. Nonetheless, many expect that the UK will negotiate a deal whereby travellers from the United Kingdom will only need their passports to travel to Europe. Therefore, travel for meetings, conferences, and other business purposes would not change. Considering there are so many UK tourists who visit EU countries, requiring them to produce a visa could harm the economies of these countries.
Don't be too concerned though because, according to the UK government website, what you need to show at a UK border will not change after Brexit - even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. You will still need to show a valid passport or national identity card if you're a citizen of either of the following:
- an EU country
- Norway, Iceland, Switzerland or Liechtenstein
At some airports you can use your automatic ePassport or biometric passport if your passport has a chip, and you're 12 years or over. These ePassport gates tend to be much faster. If you're not a citizen of an EU country, or one of the countries listed above, you'll need to show a valid passport. You can still enter the UK using a passport which expires in less than 6 months.
For more helpful information on Brexit and visas check out our comprehensive guide on whether you will need a visa for Europe. If you're also concerned about how your passport will change after Brexit, then see our useful guide on Brexit and passports for advice, either if you are a tourist or a UK business traveller making travel plans.
Cost of travel
One of the immediate impacts of Brexit was the drop in the value of the pound. It was at a 31-year low against the American dollar (just after the vote). Many of the companies that export to Europe welcomed this, as it made services and goods less expensive. There was a big spike in tourists entering the UK that could be attributed to the drop - but bear in mind currency values always fluctuate regardless of the political climate. One of the consequences of a spike in tourism could be hotel rates increasing over time due to higher demand.
The petrochemical industry is directly aligned to the US dollar, therefore fluctuations in the financial and political spectrum can cause these costs to rise and fall. The consequence of a drop in the pound is that diesel, petrol, and aviation fuel prices could go up. The majority of aircraft is also bought and sold in US dollars, therefore airlines that want to invest in new aircraft could pay more, which could lead to an increase in ticket prices.
The European Union has had an 'open skies' policy since 1994. The policy allows any EU airline to fly anywhere within the Union. The effect of the policy is that budget airlines have grown, forcing companies like Air France and BA to reduce their prices so that they can remain competitive. Since the introduction of the policy, fares have dropped 40% where as the routes increased by 180%. When the UK finally leaves the union, new agreements could arise and competition for airlines could increase - but time will tell if there will be savings in your pocket during post-Brexit business travel. For further information check out the Civil Aviation Authority Website.
Mobile phone roaming charges
Currently the cost of making calls, sending messages or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same as the UK, under EU rules. If there is a no-deal Brexit then these rules will no longer apply. Don't be too worried though as some UK companies have said they may continue to offer this benefit to their customers. For helpful information on how Brexit will affect mobile data roaming, check our guide to roaming charges post-Brexit.
Holiday Extras Brexit Disruption Cover
We want to ensure that no matter where and when you're travelling, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, you can have enhanced protection. That's where Holiday Extras Brexit Disruption Cover comes in.
Brexit Disruption Cover is available as an add-on to your travel insurance policy. To book, simply complete your initial travel insurance booking and select Brexit Disruption Cover from the list of optional add-ons. Alternatively, if you'd prefer to speak to someone, call our Kent-based call centre on 0800 316 0104, and one of our agents can talk you through the process. For a complete rundown, visit our Brexit Disruption cover page.
European Health Insurance Cards issued by the European Union allow any EU citizen the ability to access state medical care when travelling in another EU country. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, check out further information on whether your EHIC card will be valid.
Do bear in mind if you're a business traveller or a holiday maker, it's important to have comprehensive travel insurance that covers all pre-existing medical conditions you have and the activities you plan to do on your trip, as there are limitations to the EHIC card. If you??re travelling for work you may want to get additional gadget cover with your insurance package too, this will insure your gadgets in the event of loss, theft or damage - including smartphones and tablets.
At Holiday Extras, we have been voted best travel insurance provider for more than 10 years running at Globe Travel Awards. Check out our Platinum travel insurance for our premium level of cover, with Gadget cover included. Our Gold and Platinum policies have been 5 Star rated by Defaqto. This means our Platinum cover provides one of the highest quality offerings on the market.
If you are a UK business traveller and are concerned about your travel post-Brexit then check the UK government website to see if you need to act now to ensure you can continue to travel as planned.
All information correct as of November 2019. Sources: the UK Government website and The Association of British Travel Agents website.
More on Brexit
If you found this page for UK business travellers useful, then read through our other top guides for further helpful information.
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