Everything from travel to pet travel, to living abroad, it will all change from January 1st – despite a Brexit deal being agreed between the UK and EU. Here are 12 key ways your life will be impacted.
The UK and European Union have reached a Brexit trade deal with only a week to go.
It means we will no longer slap huge World Trade Organisation tariffs on up to £660bn a year of UK trade – a good dodge if you ask me.
And… companies will be relieved to know a long list EU rules and standards won’t crash to an end on New Year’s Eve.
But it might seem a whole era ago, but Brexit already happened on January 31 2020 – and that means some things were always going to change, it was just a matter of when.
The official transition period ends at 11pm on December 31 2020, bringing a permanent end to many EU rules and rights for UK citizens.
Here are 12 things that will be different for you:
1. You no longer have the right to live and work in the EU
From January 1st, EU citizens will be barred from moving to the UK unless they have a confirmed job offer, earn at least £20,480, speak good English and have certain skills.
In return, UK citizens must get permission to live or work in EU nations – and will need a visa for most trips over 90 days.
2. UK citizens may be blocked from EU travel due to coronavirus
While there’s no permanent ban on Brits travelling to the EU, the combination of coronavirus and Brexit will lead to more restrictions in the short term.
The EU has two regimes for travel during Covid-19 – one for its member countries and another for non-EU countries – which is now the UK.
3. You must renew your passport six months early – and pay to visit the EU from 2022
Firstly, you do not automatically need a new passport – your old one remains valid even if it says ‘European Union’ on the cover.
But you must renew your passport if it has less than six months before expiry on the day you travel.
Your passport must also be no more than 10 years old, even if it has six months left before expiry.
From 2022, UK nationals will have to pay for a visa-waiver scheme in order to visit many European countries.
You’ll also no longer be able to use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes.
4. You could face huge disruption on roads and at ports
The agreed trade deal means many of the most disruptive consequences of Brexit – like price hikes on veg – will no longer happen.
But the UK is still leaving the EU’s single market and customs union on January 1, bringing a big pile of new paperwork.
The government is braced for disruption on roads and at ports – especially in Kent – as lorry drivers go through new checks.
5. If you run a business, there’s a lot of new paperwork
Despite a new trade deal, business owners will need to make customs declarations when they import or export goods to and from the EU.
If you run a business, you will need an EORI number to do this. If you don’t get one by December 31 your goods may be delayed.
And firms will need to check the rules for importing alcohol, tobacco and certain oils.
6. And if you’re a firm trading with Belfast, you face new rules
The UK and EU have agreed checks will not take place at the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Northern Ireland will continue to follow many of the EU’s rules, meaning that lorries can continue to drive across the island of Ireland without having to be inspected.
But in return, there will be a new “regulatory” border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). That’s because, unlike Northern Ireland, Great Britain won’t have to follow EU rules in future.
This means some checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain to Northern Ireland will be needed.
Those checks will take place at the ports in Northern Ireland – and customs duties will have to be paid on some goods which are deemed “at risk” of travelling into the EU at a later date.
7. You must do more before taking a pet on holiday – even guide dogs
EU ‘pet passports’ for dogs, cats and ferrets will no longer be valid from 1 January 2021, prompting a surge in red tape.
Instead, you’ll have to visit a vet 10 days to a month before each trip you take with your pet – and that includes guide dogs.
The animal will need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel.
Ten days or less before travel, a vet then needs to issue an EU Model Health Certificate to allow the pet into the EU.
Pet owners will have to report with their animal to a Travellers’ Point of Entry once they arrive in Europe.
This is less onerous than originally feared. At first it was thought UK pet owners would have to visit the vet four months before a trip.
8. You may be hit by mobile phone roaming charges on holiday
Roaming charges will be allowed to return, whether there’s a Brexit deal or not.
Mobile phone users currently get free data roaming across the whole of the EU, thanks to relatively recent EU rules.
But after January 1, Brits will no longer get this privilege and phone firms will be free to hit you with roaming charges abroad.
You must check with your phone provider to see if you will be affected.
9. You need a special permit to drive your car in the EU
Currently a UK driving licence is the only thing visitors need to get behind the wheel on the continent.
But from January 1 many countries will require you to get an International Driving Permit, which costs £5.50 at the Post Office.
Meanwhile, you will also be forced to apply for a ‘green card’ to prove you have the right car insurance.
The certificates are free of charge and available from insurance companies, though firms may increase admin fees to deal with red tape.
Those who forget their green cards would be forced to buy expensive “frontier” insurance in the country they are visiting.
10. You might be blocked from your favourite streaming sites on holiday
Subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime will no longer be forced by law to let you watch your account in full in the EU.
While the exact policy is up to individual companies, in theory you could lose access to some content if you’re watching overseas.
It is because the UK will no longer be bound by the EU’s “portability regulation” from January 1.
11. Package holiday bookers will get less legal protection
Package holidaymakers could be left with no legal protection if the firm they booked with goes bust.
Currently Brits have “insolvency protection” if they book with a package holiday provider that’s based anywhere in the EU.
But after January 1, that protection will only apply if the firms are established in the UK or “actively targeting” the UK market.
12. You might not be able to take a ham sandwich with you on holiday
The government’s website warns: “You will not be able to take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries from 1 January 2021.”
There are some exceptions, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food for medical reasons.
But the full rules on the European Commission’s website make clear the meat and milk ban includes “personal goods”.