After Brexit Major Restrictions Hit EU-UK Business Travel

Business Travel News 12/31/2020

AAA World Article

Business travel between the European Union and its former member state the United Kingdom is set to become significantly more complicated from Jan. 1. The UK left the EU on Dec. 31, 2019 but little changed in the transition period that ran to Dec. 31, 2020. However, annexes included in the 1259-page trade agreement between the EU and UK published on Christmas Eve confirm that once the transition ends many activities carried out by short-term business visitors will require work permits and in some cases the passing of an economic needs test.

There are several additional new restrictions on freedom of movement and other changes, although the ending of state healthcare rights for visitors and the need to carry international driving permits have largely been avoided.

Nevertheless, said Scott Davies, CEO of the UK and Ireland’s Institute of Travel Management, “the deal which has been struck does not appear to directly address the need to minimize friction and paperwork for business travel to and from the EU. Previously, travel to the EU required little thought around entry requirements and permissions. Travelers will now potentially need to understand the conditions and rules that apply for each country.”

Davies was also highly critical of failure to reach an agreement until one week before the UK government’s self-imposed deadline for ending the no-change transition period. “The late agreement of a Brexit deal has further challenged and complicated organizations’ plans to prepare for business travel beyond the transition period,” he said. “ITM’s buyer members have been working hard to put the necessary processes and considerations into place, without the full knowledge of the scenario they will be faced with.”

Based on a reading of the trade agreement itself, plus advice from the UK government and other sources, this is BTN’s best understanding of what changes will affect business travel between the EU and UK as of 1 January. No actions should be taken solely on the basis of this article, especially as more clarification can be expected on key points such as work permits.  

The full list of business travel restrictions can be read here.  


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