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How Business Travel Will Be Different After Brexit

The United Kingdom officially left the European Union on January 31, 2020. Unfortunately, the free trade agreement negotiations were not completed and there's an enormous number of loose ends to tie up.

For business travellers, this means major disruption and inconvenience since a large portion of British life is tied up in E.U. legislation.

While Britain was in the E.U., travelling between participating countries was seamless. However, now there are endless questions about how the process will change and what paperwork travellers will need to present while crossing those same borders.

What hasn't changed with Brexit

While it seems the changes are endless, there are some things that haven't changed. For example, U.K. passport holders can still get an ESTA rather than a visa for travelling to the United States.

The freedom of air travel is another area of life that shouldn't be affected by Brexit. According to the New York Times, Britain designated bilateral open-skies agreements with the U.S., Iceland, Switzerland, Morocco, and Albania and deals with more countries that are in the works.

Land and sea travel won't change

The British government has no plans to alter the way trains, ferries, cruises, and bus services work to and from the E.U. To board a Eurostar train, passengers are already required to present passports. That's not expected to change.

Airline passenger rights aren't changing

Perhaps most importantly for business travellers, Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 is still in full effect. Under this regulation, travellers to and from the E.U. (regardless of nationality) are entitled to reimbursement when a flight is delayed, cancelled, or they're denied boarding.

Officials expect these traveller protections to remain in effect even when travelling on a U.K. flight. The U.K. integrated these protections directly into the Withdrawal Act of 2018, so there should be no changes here.

Visas are still not required for Americans traveling to Britain

American citizens entering Britain still won't need visas, but they will need a valid passport that remains valid throughout their entire stay. However, Americans who travel from Britain to any one of the 26 Schengen countries must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after the end of their scheduled stay.

Slight to moderate changes will inconvenience some travellers

Britain's deal with the United States is easy going, but flying between Britain and the remaining E.U. countries could present a challenge to British and E.U. nationals. Prior to Brexit, British and E.U. nationals only needed a national ID card to travel between countries. Now, Britain won't allow E.U. citizens into the country without a passport.

Longer lines at the airport are an unfortunate side effect of requiring British citizens to use passports. There used to be one line for E.U. travellers and another line for all other travellers. However, after Brexit, these lines will be combined into one main line.

Cheaper flights will benefit travelers

While Brexit has been bad for the British economy, the falling value of the pound makes it cheaper for Americans to fly to Britain. Right after Brexit, many Americans took advantage of this and there was an increase in flights from the U.S. to Britain.

The only downside to cheap flights is that with more Americans travelling to Britain, hotel accommodations will be scarce and room rates may rise.

A new post-Brexit security system is on the way

Although unrelated to Brexit, business travellers should be aware of the new security system being rolled out after January 2021 to screen travellers without a visa. Under this new security system, American travellers (along with Britons and other travellers entering the E.U.) will need to register with the European Travel Information and Authorization System. Registration is completed online and requires a small fee of about €7 ($8 USD).

U.K. security is getting tighter

For travellers heading in or out of the U.K., security is going to be much tighter. CNN reported that the Freedom of Movement rules for E.U. citizens are going to impose tougher criminal checks, but the specific changes aren't yet complete.

More uncertainties

Other areas of concern include how insurance will work for U.K. business travellers while in the E.U. Before Brexit, travellers could use their European Health Insurance Card to get free medical care within the E.U. It's not clear yet how this will be affected or if a new deal is in place. This means business travellers will need as much travel insurance as possible.

If you plan on travelling for business in the E.U. and you haven't travelled post-Brexit, contact your travel agent for updated policies before booking your flight.

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