When travelling between the UK and the EU, companies should expect added complications in the form of regulations, paperwork, and more. To ensure that employee travel operates smoothly and safely, companies will have to establish new routines and plan for longer lead times. Communicating changes and new requirements—including what employees can and can’t do while abroad—will be critical to successful business trips in the post-Brexit era.
Below we outline the new rules and changes that Brexit has brought to business travel and provide a checklist for travel policy and planning changes you should consider.
Awareness of these essential changes to EU business travel from the UK can spare your company—and your travellers—many headaches. The new trade cooperation agreement lays out many of the constraints and is required reading. Key highlights include:
Be sure your passport has enough validity left before it expires. Always check the rules for both the UK and the EU before travelling.
Most EU countries now require business visas for some types of work travel.
Expired European health insurance cards need to be replaced with the Global GHIC card (and/or private coverage).
Proof of sufficient funds and return travel. Business travellers may need both of these to cross borders; a company sponsorship letter may suffice.
CUSTOMS & DUTY
Travellers should be aware of new limitations on importing currency, meat, dairy, and agricultural products; they should also take into account alcohol and tobacco allowances.
International driving permits and special insurance coverage may be required, depending on the country.
The European Travel Authorisation System, expected in 2023, will require an additional step prior to travel. It is expected to be a relatively straightforward and quick online visa waiver application, similar to the ESTA for the U.S.
DO’S AND DON’TS
The new rules forbid some previously permissible activities while on business travel, such as offering training to employees outside the company while in the EU.
TRAVEL PLANNING CHECKLIST
The following suggested practices will make life a lot easier for travel managers:
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Because of ongoing travel bans and COVID-19 restrictions, new regulations and the timeline for their implementation have been evolving—such as the need for work permits in certain countries or specific requirements for EU-wide paperwork. Keep an eye out and become familiar with them so you can quickly adapt as restrictions ease.
Business trips will require more lead time and careful planning, especially when visas are required. Travel managers must also ensure that staff travel falls within EU guidelines and that employees know the rules in advance.
UNDERSTAND ALL REQUIREMENTS
In addition to the EU-wide rules, individual countries have implemented their own specific regulations, such as economic means testing and special work permits.
DUTY OF CARE
Travellers may require more agent support than before, in order to navigate the changes. Make sure they have access to the right support channels, including phone, chat, and VIP services when necessary. And appreciate that travellers will need more time for their actual journeys – let travellers know that British passport holders can’t use EU lanes at passport control and customs, so waiting times may be longer.