Brexit - EU Transition

Please check our COVID-19 section for up-to-date information, as the coronavirus outbreak may affect the advice given on this page.

The information below is correct as of 8 January 2021

The transition period between the UK and the EU has ended and there are new requirements in place effective from 1 January 2021.

There is some useful information for individual countries here but it should be noted that not all of these changes affect UK Armed Forces personnel and their dependants.

UK Armed Forces personnel and their dependants assigned to Europe may have some protection under various Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) and individual Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) so it is important that you check out your individual circumstances against your local chain of command’s advice.

Dedicated resources for Armed Forces personnel include:

With so many aspects still under negotiation AFF advises that families also sign up to official UK updates and review advice.

Contents

01   Are you moving to or from Europe soon?

The MOD has released a new directed letter detailing enhancements to subsistence expenses for families if their belongings are delayed during a move due to customs changes.

This guidance is for families assigned to and from countries that qualify for moves under the Furniture Movement Scheme and who are moving into unfurnished accommodation.

Additional guidance on managing the impact of Brexit on assignments and moves can be found here.

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02   Travelling to Europe

On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to have at least six months left and be less than ten years old.

The UK and the EU have reached an agreement on healthcare when visiting the EU. Your UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will continue to be valid until its current expiry date. Thereafter you will be able to apply for a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). (Please note a GHIC will only cover you in EU countries, they do not apply in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.)

EHIC and GHIC are issued free of charge – be wary of unofficial websites that may charge.

For more info, see Apply for your GHIC and www.gov.uk/european-health-insurance-card

EHIC and GHIC do not replace travel insurance so make sure you have appropriate travel insurance with health cover for any pre-existing conditions before you travel. You can read advice on buying travel insurance with the right cover here.

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03   Spousal employment in Europe after 1 January 2021

In EU locations where there are UK dependant roles managed through a Civilian Employment Office, Armed Forces spouses are generally* employed under the Status of the Forces Agreement. This means the only requirement to be able to work is a valid UK Dependant Status Stamp in a current passport.

*Section 73 of the SOFA agreement in Germany does have some restrictions for non-UK/NATO dependants.

Armed Forces spouses who wish to work in the local domestic economy will only require a work permit if they come from outside the EU or were not already living in an EU country prior to 1 January 2021. If you were living legally in an EU country prior to 1 January 2021, you can carry on working as your rights are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.

Armed Forces spouses who wish to establish a small business trading in the local domestic economy after 1 January 2021 will need to get a work permit for that country. For more info, see gov.uk/working-abroad.  Each country will have its own arrangements so you will need to contact the relevant UK-based embassy for more details.

Armed Forces dependants who have been issued with ‘limited dependency status’ and wish to seek employment are advised to seek guidance from the sponsor chain of command.

Studying & professional qualifications

If you have studied in EU member states and received professional qualifications in regulated professions, you may need to have your qualifications formally recognised in the UK. See gov.uk/guidance/get-your-eu-professional-qualification-recognised-in-the-uk

Family members posting to EU countries may also be required to have their professional qualifications recognised by the host nation for regulated professions in that country. See europa.eu/youreurope/citizens/work/professional-qualifications/regulated-professions/index_en.htm

 

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04   Driving documents

If you have a card driving licence issued in the UK, you will not need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. However, if you have a paper licence or one issued in Gibraltar, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, you may need an International Driving Permit.

There are three types of IDP and the one you need is country specific. For further info check www.gov.uk/driving-abroad/international-driving-permit

You may require documentation to confirm proof of vehicle insurance such as an internationally recognised green card (or multiple green cards) if you have several vehicles. You should also check with your own insurance provider for the necessary documentation required for travel to the UK after the transition period has ended. You may also need a GB sticker for your car, even if you have a GB identifier on your number plate.

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05   Pet travel

It has now been confirmed that the UK will become a Part 2 listed third country under the EU Pet Travel Scheme from 1 January 2021.

This means that a current EU pet passport issued in GB will not be valid for travel to the EU or NI from 1 January 2021.

For more information see gov.uk 

There is no change if you’re bringing your pet dog, cat or ferret to the UK. For more information see gov.uk

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06   Border administration

When planning travel be prepared for this to take longer – you may have to show your return ticket or onward ticket; and that you have sufficient money for your stay.

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07   Mobile phone roaming

The guarantee of free mobile phone roaming will end. You are advised to check with your provider whether additional roaming charges will apply.

Streaming – You are advised to check with your provider whether your streaming service will still continue in your EU country.

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08   UK bank accounts

Some customers may be affected if they use a European Economic Area address. Contact your UK bank and provide a BFPO address.

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09   Purchasing goods from the UK

There may be additional charges such as import duty on goods, so check with your supplier before you place an order to ensure you are not charged UK VAT.

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10   Sending and receiving mail via BFPO - international and EU mail import and export changes

From 1 January 2021, parcels posted to/from BFPO customers in the EU/UK will require either a Royal Mail Customs Notification 22 (CN22), Customs Notification 23 (CN23) or Parcelforce Customs Pack (CP72) and Electronic Customs Data (ECD).  This is due to changes to UK and international law which will affect how mail and parcels will be cleared in the future.  

NB: It is the senderresponsibility to ensure that the new regulations are followed and failure to comply could result in items being seized and subjected to additional VAT or clearance charges prior to release by local customs authorities.  In extreme cases, it could also lead to your parcels being returned or destroyed.  

Ordering online goods for BFPO overseas addresses (including the EU)  

New customs declaration procedures (CN22/CN23/CP72/ECD) will need to be completed by the seller/sender for products destined for overseas BFPO locations. Ordering/sending customers should have the opportunity to either pay VAT/clearance charges (if applicable) up front or opt for these charges to be paid by the recipient under local country arrangements.  

Posting items at a Post Office Counter  

When sending items to overseas BFPO addresses, you will be required to complete customs declarations forms in more detail than before, ensuring that exact contents and value are shown.  Your local Post Office Counter staff will be able to take you through this process. 

BFPO, which acts solely as the shipping agent, has no responsibility or influence in customs matters and this responsibility rests with the sender or the selling/sending company.   

For more information, see gov.ukRoyal Mail and Parcelforce.  

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11   Running a business from an overseas assignment

You may need to make a customs declaration if you take goods to sell abroad or use for business.

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12   Kindergeld (British Army Germany)

Post-transition negotiations are still continuing, which may have an effect on German Kindergeld payments after 31 December 2020. You are advised to review www.arbeitsagentur.de/en/financial-support for future updates.

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13   Visas – short visits to other countries

UK nationals generally won’t need a visa on a short trip to most EU countries. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Non-UK nationals may require additional visas even if assigned overseas with the Armed Forces.

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14   Visas – assignments and living in other countries

You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel. All non-UK nationals should seek advice from their chain of command on receipt of an overseas assignment.

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15   EU settlement scheme

The rule that allows EU, EEA and Swiss nationals to live in the UK will change. You are strongly advised to seek advice on dependants’ immigration status in the UK. Any Army family requiring advice on the EU settlement scheme should contact AFF’s F&C specialists fcsupport@aff.org.uk – or see the Brexit -F&C page.

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16   End of Assignment

The rules have changed and you must complete a form ToR 1. Your shipping agent should be able to advise you and forms can be found here.

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17   Residency in certain EU member states

Now that the UK has left the EU, some veterans and UK nationals currently living in certain EU member states will need to take steps to secure their residency rights under the Withdrawal Agreement. The exact steps will vary by country, but in some countries, action is required before 30 June 2021.

UK citizens who wish to live in the EU, including Armed Forces personnel and their families posted in the EU who wish to continue living there once they have left the Services, are advised to visit this guide on gov.uk. This includes information on gaining residency, citizenship, healthcare, pensions, benefits and many other personal administration issues.

UK veterans who require additional support to complete their residence application or registration, can get support from organisations funded by the UK Nationals Support Fund.

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