When free movement ended on 31 December 2020, the rules changed for EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who do not already live in the UK but who wish to visit. The new rules do not apply to Irish citizens, who can continue to freely enter and live in the UK.
EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can travel to the UK for holidays or short trips without needing a visa. So they can continue to simply turn up at the airport, ferry port or train station and present their valid passport or ID Card. However, from 1 October 2021, these visitors must use their passport – not a national ID card – to cross the border into the UK when visiting the UK from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland.
Family members of an EU, EEA or Swiss Citizen who wish to visit the UK but are not themselves an EU EEA or Swiss Citizen, will need their passport and a ‘Family Permit’. They will need to apply for this before travelling. They cannot use an Article 10 or Article 20 residence card issued by an EEA member state.
Visitors on business can enter the UK for a short business trip without a visa if they are an EU, EEA or Swiss Citizen. Again, they can simply turn up at the border with a passport of ID card and will usually be allowed to stay for up to 6 months – they can visit multiple times during that 6 months period. Business visitors cannot work without restrictions however – they can attend meetings, events and conferences for example, but they must not:
This is not a complete list. It is important to know what is prohibited before coming to the UK on a visit visa for business.
UK border staff might question frequent visitors from the EU, EEA or Switzerland if they think that someone is using visit visas to live long-term in the UK. It is important to be aware that this is not allowed under the UK Immigration Rules. It is also important to leave the UK before any visit visa runs out – there will be a stamp in the visitor’s passport with an expiry date. If someone stays beyond the expiry date, they are in the UK illegally.
All these changes do not take into account the Covid Rules which are in place currently – in a rapidly changing situation it is also important to check Covid restrictions before travelling.
So to sum up – when visiting the UK from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you will notice little difference when you arrive in the UK after Brexit. However your time in the UK will now be limited. As before Brexit, any non-EEA family members will have to obtain a document prior to travelling. If you have any queries about the guidance in this post, please contact us for more information.