Travel across Europe has long led to a thriving marketplace, benefitting both UK and EU businesses. However, since the decision to leave the EU has been set in stone, many business travellers have been left in limbo as the freedom of movement benefit of the EU has been stripped away.
With little clarity on the full extent of the agreements, despite the Trade Agreement deal being made in the final days of 2020, the business travel landscape post-Brexit is uncertain. With almost 5 million business trips made by travellers from the UK to the EU in 2019, the importance of business travel cannot be disregarded. In this blog, we are highlighting some of the key concerns for business travellers and the outlined restrictions as part of the trade agreement.
Concerns For Business Travellers Post-Brexit
One of the key concerns for business travellers is the impact of mobile roaming. A year after the Brexit decision was made, the EU voted to introduce ‘free-roaming’, meaning all mobile phone charges were domestic regardless of the country. The UK’s trade deal with the EU does not rule out the possibility of additional costs for UK customers using their phones in the EU, including business travellers, despite a number of the biggest mobile operators stating that they have ‘no current plans’ to change their mobile roaming policies.
This isn’t particularly reassuring. To instil some confidence, the government has introduced some legislation to protect consumers from unexpected charges, by obligating mobile operators to add a limit to mobile data usage while abroad.
It isn’t just the cost of mobile usage which is concerning business travellers and corporations who rely on their business travel. It is also the potential rise in travel costs as a result of the threat to the open skies agreement in the future and the drop in the value of the pound. It is imperative that businesses continue to adapt their processes. One of the ways this can be managed more effectively is through the use of revolutionary online travel management platforms such as UT Online, which can allow companies to save money, time and plan ahead more effectively.
The Trade Agreement
The Trade Agreement had been provisionally applied from January 1st 2021, with the framework having been agreed on 24 December 2020. This outlined a series of frameworks for business activities between the UK and EU which is agreed for permitted visitors. According to this agreement, UK business visitors are able to spend up to 90 days in the EU within a period of 6 months. Further information on this trade agreement and what it means for business travellers can be found here.
Short Term Visitor Permissions
There are a number of activities which business travellers are permitted to carry out within the EU, including:
- Attending meetings and conferences
- Undertaking independent research under the branch of technical, scientific or statistical
- Undertake market research
- Attend fairs and exhibitions
- Purchase commercial goods or services
- Take orders, negotiate sales and sign contracts
- Undertake training in the form of observation or classroom instruction to learn about the techniques or work practices within the country they are visiting
- Install, repair or maintain equipment sold or leased within their own country which is under warranty or incidental service contract
- Managers and Financial Services are also allowed to undertake commercial transactions
- Travel agents and tour operators are able to accompany a tour between the UK & EU (and vice versa)
- Translation and interpretation services are also permitted
There are a number of restrictions however that need to be considered.
For example, short term business visitors are unable to receive renumeration, they are not permitted to sell goods or supply services to the general public, amongst other restrictions.
There are also some restrictions based on the list above. For example:
A short-term business traveller is able to attend a meeting, but they are unable to provide a service offering advice to a client within that meeting and charge for this time, if entering the EU as a visitor.
Travelling With A Visa
If you are planning to stay for longer than 90 days within a 180-day period, then you may require a visa, work permit or other form of documentation to travel. This is also applicable if you are planning to do any of the following:
- Transferring from the UK branch to a branch within the EU, even temporarily
- Carrying out contracts and providing a service to a client in another country in which your employer has no presence
- Providing services in another country as a self-employed individual
There may also be specific entry requirements and rules dependent on the country which will need to be checked and assessed.
Travelling Without A Visa
If an employee is travelling without a visa, then it is best for them to carry a letter from the employer or a lawyer within their hand luggage. This letter should detail what activities they intend to undertake, and if applicable, how these fit within the new restrictions.
It is also important that they comply with the other general requirements such as:
- Be able to show that they can maintain themselves financially
- Be able to demonstrate their intention to leave with a return or onward travel ticket valid within the permitted visit duration
- Have travel insurance
In addition to this, passports must be used from October 2021, with national ID cards no longer being valid.
Turn To Uniglobe Gemini Travel
While there is still some uncertainty while navigating post-Brexit travel, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the expert team at Uniglobe Gemini Travel can support you. With our pioneering corporate travel technology, we can help you to save time and money, while helping to ensure your travel is hassle-free. For more information, fill out our form here or call us directly on +44 (0) 1784 254 850.