Brexit Briefing from the Business Travel Association

Wexas Travel Management is a proud member of the Business Travel Association (BTA).

How has travel changed since 1st January 2021?

  • As of 1st January 2021, the free movement of people between the UK and the European Union has ended. This means that UK nationals can now only stay in the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa and will be required to have at least six months left on their passport issued less than ten years ago.
  • If you are traveling as a tourist, you do not need a visa for short trips (so long as your total stay is less than 90 days in a 180-day period). However, you may need a visa or work permit when travelling for work, study, or business travel. If you break the 90-day limit you may be given an entry ban for one year for the entire Schengen Area.
  • In early 2022 all non-EU citizens entering the Schengen Area will also need to obtain approval from the European Travel Information and Authorization System which will be valid for three years. This is in response to the increasing terrorist threat within Europe. More information about this can be found here. •
  • Different rules apply when travelling to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania as they are not currently a part of the Schengen Zone. These countries are classed as a separate block and require a combined limit of no more than 90 days entry during a 180-day period but travel to these countries will not count towards the 90-day limit of the countries who are in the Schengen Zone.
  • Switzerland also has a special agreement which means that UK professionals can work for up to 90 days per year without a work permit or other paperwork. This agreement lasts until 2023.
  • Travel to the Republic of Ireland is also relatively unaffected because Ireland is a part of the Common Travel Agreement.

What does this mean for business travel?

UK travellers do not need a visa for short term business trips so long as the total stay is less than 90 days in a 180-day period, and the visit is limited to the following business activities:

  • Meetings and consultations: Attend a meeting or conference
  • Research and design: Conduct independent research (e.g. technical, scientific and statistical research)
  • Marketing research: Conduct marketing research
  • Training seminars: Attend training seminars (“provided that the training received is confined to observation, familiarisation and classroom instruction only”)
  • Trade fairs and exhibitions: Attend a trade fair or an exhibition
  • Sales: A representative of a supplier of services or goods taking orders or negotiating the sale of a service or good (but not delivering goods or supplying services themselves). Short term business visitors cannot engage in direct sales to the general public
  • Purchasing: Buyers purchasing goods or services for an enterprise, or management and supervisory personnel
  • After sales or after-lease service: Installers, repair and maintenance personnel supplying service or training workers
  • Commercial transactions: Engage in a commercial transaction (e.g. insurers bankers and investment brokers)
  • Tourism personnel: (e.g. tour and travel agents)
  • Translation and interpretation: (e.g. translators and interpreters)

Therefore, a visa or work permit may be required if your total travel is more than 90 days over a 180-day period, or you are travelling for business for reasons outside the list above. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Transferring from the UK branch of a company to a branch in a different country (‘intra-corporate transfer’), even for a short period of time
  • Carrying out contracts to provide a service to a client in another country in which your employer has no presence
  • Providing services as a self-employed person including any kind of artistic performance

It is advised to check each individual country’s requirements before travel because some member states have imposed additional restrictions on the UK, even if you are travelling for the approved reasons listed above, for example:

  • Cyprus, Denmark and Croatia do require a work permit, and an economic needs test “in case the short-term business visitor supplies a service.”
  • Latvia requires a work permit for “operations/activities to be performed” on the basis of a contract
  • Malta requires a work permit, but no economic needs test
  • Slovenia requires a single residency and work permit for the supply of services exceeding 14 days at time and for certain activities (research and design, training seminars, purchasing, commercial transactions, translation and interpretation) but no economic needs test
  • Slovakia requires a work permit and economic needs test if the visit is beyond seven days in a month or 30 days in a year.

Further information

More details regarding short-term business travel can be found on pages 741-746 in the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement which can be accessed here.

The Government also has a dedicated webpage with advice regarding business travel to Europe. This states that business travel includes activities such as travelling for meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity) and touring for art or music.

Travellers are advised to check the travel guidance for each individual country before travelling for either leisure or business.

The EU has also provided a ‘short stay visa calculator’ which can be accessed here. Some other useful web links which provide good summaries of what the deal means for business travel include:

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