Passports, visas, ‘roaming’ … All the Brexit changes that apply from this Friday | International


Travelers queue up at one of the London Heathrow airport terminals on December 21.
Travelers queue up at one of the London Heathrow airport terminals on December 21.NIKLAS HALLE’N / AFP

ID card or passport? Do I have to apply for a visa? Is the driving license useful? Can I leave the use of mobile data activated? The definitive exit of the United Kingdom from the EU imposes new rules whose impact London and Brussels have tried to minimize through the agreements they have sealed, but which they have not been able to reduce to zero. These are some of the rules that change and others that will remain the same as of January 1, 2021.

I live and work in London. Can I stay in the UK? Yes. The agreements reached guarantee residency for European citizens who have arrived in the United Kingdom until December 31, 2020 (the end of the transition period) and that of British citizens who on that date live in one of the 27 countries of the European Union.

Should I do any paperwork? Yes, you have to apply for a residence document in the UK, but there is time until June 30, 2021. Those who have resided for five years will be given settled status; and those who have been less time, the pre-seated. Britons in the European Union will also need to register, but the necessary paperwork is set by each country.

What about my family? The UK Withdrawal Agreement from the EU protects the children of residents, regardless of where and when they were born. It also guarantees the right to family reunification with spouses or registered partners, parents, grandparents, children or grandchildren.

I don’t live in London, but I must go on business. Will I need a visa? No. You can visit the country for periods of up to six months for tourism or business activities, such as attending conferences or work meetings.

What if I want to go to study or work? As of January 1, the United Kingdom will implement a point-based migration system – which will give priority to citizens with specific skills – and a visa will be required to work. To study, also for stays of more than six months. In the case of obtaining a university degree in the United Kingdom, you can apply for a graduate visa, which allows you to stay in the country to work or seek employment for two years; three, in the case of having obtained a doctorate.

Can I continue traveling with my DNI? The DNI can continue to be used to travel between Spain and the United Kingdom until September 30, 2021. From October 1, it will be mandatory to travel with a passport.

What about Social Security? The current situation of residents of an EU country and their family members in the UK is also guaranteed, so that they will neither be left unprotected nor face double quota imposition.

And with health? Emergency health care continues to be covered for temporary stays of tourists, students or business people with the European health card. Whether to stay longer will depend on national legislation. The United Kingdom imposes a health surcharge on the issuance of visas for stays of more than six months, which is refundable in the case of cross-border students or workers.

What if I am a pensioner? The agreements between Brussels and London provide that pensioners will continue to benefit from health care in their country of residence on behalf of the State that pays their pension.

I am a student, can I request an Erasmus in London? No. The UK has decided to exit the Erasmus program. The British Government has announced that it wants to create its own plan, to be called Turing – after the mathematician Alan Turing – for 35,000 students each year to go abroad, but not just to Europe.

Will the roaming? European law ceases to apply and UK companies are free to apply roaming charges to EU citizens. Neither does the Spanish have to offer it to the British, although some firms will continue to provide that service.

I have an export company. Do I have to pay tariffs? No. The pacts provide that there will be zero tariffs and zero quotas.

But will it mean more paperwork? Yes. Both blocks have committed to reducing paperwork to a minimum. However, the United Kingdom exits the single market, which means that products from both sides of the Canal will be subject to customs controls and formalities to comply with the safety and health standards required by the destination country.

Does Brexit affect air transport? Yes. UK airlines will cease to be EU companies and will not enjoy the same traffic rights in the community space. The agreement guarantees these companies that they will be able to fly over European skies and move passengers or goods between a British city and another in the EU. However, they will not be able to unite two cities in one country (Barcelona-Madrid), nor in the EU (Barcelona-Paris) or unite three points (London-Paris-Barcelona). Plus they miss the call fifth freedom not being able to travel between a Member State and a third country (London-Barcelona-Beijing). Everything will have to be re-negotiated bilaterally with the Member States.

Will that affect Iberia or Vueling? They both belong to the British group IAG, but have defended their Spanish passports. The European Commission had doubts that the majority of its capital was European, but it is up to Spain to ensure compliance with that provision. The Government has already guaranteed that both will continue to fly. In addition, the agreement introduces the creation of a bilateral commission that will be able to decide within a year whether to remove the requirement that there be a majority of EU shareholders to obtain a community license.

How much will London have to pay at Twenty-seven? The UK no longer participates in the EU budgets for 2021-2027, the negotiation of which has been closed in extremis in the last European Council, nor in the recovery funds deployed to face the pandemic. However, the UK’s obligations to the EU have not ended.

London will receive funds to liquidate its participation in institutions such as the European Investment Bank or the European Central Bank. However, estimates indicate that the balance will still be favorable to Brussels. The EU estimated that the bill was around 45,000 million euros because of the “pending commitments”. Among them are some investments that it has committed to as an EU partner. For example, an infrastructure can be budgeted in 2012, but not finished until 2019. Well, London should assume its share of the pending quota of that project – 13% of the total.

The British Government maintains that a good part of that amount was disbursed in 2020 through its contributions to the EU Budget. Even so, the Office of Fiscal Responsibility estimates that there are still some 27,500 million euros that must be paid between 2021 and 2057. These are other “pending commitments”: the share that corresponds to the pensions and benefits that all have acquired EU officials – not just UK officials – until 2020. The Office estimates that the largest disbursements will occur between 2021 and 2025, when resources will need to continue to be provided for ongoing projects, while the bill will drop dramatically thereafter to fund only community employee pensions.


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