There are big Brexit related changes after December 31st for UK and EU citizens. New policies are in place regarding travel insurance, consumer rights, banking, and more, which apply to UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK.
The new year will be the year of transition for UK and EU citizens. It has been more than four years since the Brexit referendum. With the end of the Brexit transition period, the UK government is now implementing its new policies regarding work and travel. Several mandatory changes will begin, going into 2021 for visitors travelling to and from the UK.
Until 31 December 2020, visitors were entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This is only valid until the expiration date of each card. An alternative system called The Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) is being introduced. The UK government has ensured it is a similar scheme as the EHIC with several significant differences. E.g., the GHIC scheme is not valid in certain countries like Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Norway will accept UK passports to seek necessary medical coverage. Negotiations are being held with Switzerland and EEA/EFTA states regarding joint health cover for state members. UK citizens without GHIC are entitled to healthcare when travelling in Europe. A provisional replacement certificate can be obtained by contacting the NHS Business Services Authority.
The GHIC will remain a free service. Applications are not yet available but will begin this year.
As the European Health Insurance Card is no longer valid, much concern came with travel insurance. Although it's not mandatory to have travel insurance, it's highly recommended to do so as insurance policies for European travel cost as low as fifty pounds per year for 2021. With the Global Health Insurance scheme's introduction, the UK and EU can reassure visitors once applications begin.
All UK licenses will be valid in Europe. However, a 'green card' is required to show proof of insurance if visitors wish to take their cars overseas. You will receive your green card via email with only an administration fee. It's advised to print it out and have it ready for police authorities when crossing the borders. Drivers coming from Northern Ireland will also need a green card when crossing into the Republic. The Association of British Insurers(ABI) has noted the green card policy for Europe could end, but for now, it is required when crossing borders.
Bringing pets overseas
Britain and the EU agreed a 'part two listed' status will be implemented, meaning pets are allowed to cross the borders but will require an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for each trip, which can be obtained from any licensed veterinarian. The AHC is to confirm the animal has been vaccinated for rabies and has obtained a microchip. The journey must begin within ten days of gaining the certificate, which is then valid for four months of travel.
Handling fees and VAT charges may apply to any item purchased in Europe and posted to Britain, depending on the value and type of product, e.g., commercial goods or gifts.
According to the Royal Mail, "For items under £135 (except gifts), VAT will be collected directly when they buy the goods online. For goods with a value over £135 (and gifts over £39), Royal Mail may collect the VAT and customs duties from the customer prior to delivery."
For mobile phone usage, UK phone allowances have ended in Europe. Roaming charges can now be applied. However, the major mobile phone companies across Europe, Vodafone, EE, 02, and Three, have ensured they have no plans to do so. A "fair and transparent" rate for roaming charges will be agreed upon between the UK and the EU regarding phone usage.
UK Nationals based in Europe
A guarantee has already been made to UK pensioners retired in Europe. UK nationals will receive the British state pension along with annual increases. For future references, the same applies to UK nationals attending to retire in Europe.
Changes regarding banking in Europe have applied. Lloyds Group banks like Halifax and Bank of Scotland have all operated across Europe under the EU passport agreements, which expired at the end of 2020. UK nationals residing in Europe have been informed that accounts with these UK banks will close. Account-holders with an EU based banking group will have their accounts switched to localized banks.
Certain countries will be more so affected, including the Netherlands as Nationwide, Lloyd Banking Group, and Co-operative banks have all pulled out. Barclays is also closing accounts for account holders in Italy, Estonia, and Slovakia, including Barclaycards across EEA states unless they link a UK address.
EU Nationals based in the UK
To rent in the UK, landlords are required to check a tenant's immigration status before signing a lease, as stated on the 'right to rent' rules. From July 30th 2021, EU nationals will need to have a "settled" or "pre-settled" status. It's unclear what precisely the tenant is supposed to do in preparing for this date. However, the government guidance to landlords states, "New guidance on how to conduct right to rent checks on EEA and Swiss nationals after June 30th, 2021 will be provided in advance of this date."
For benefit claims, EU nationals will need to apply to the EU settlement scheme before July 31st to remain in the UK. A significant factor for benefit claims is to show 'settled status,' which proves a person's right to stay in the UK as they prove it's their primary home and plan on staying for the foreseeable future.
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