EU TRANSITION PERIOD
The Transition Period (TP) following the UK’s exit from the EU closes on 31 Dec 20. Although UK Service Personnel and their dependants assigned to NATO or Exchange/Liaison Officer posts in the EU have some protection under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) or individual MOUs, the UK’s future relationship with the EU following the TP may introduce additional measures that UK personnel will need to be aware of. EJSU will continue to monitor this closely and notify UK Service Personnel and their families of any measures that may impact upon them.
Latest UK Government News
- Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove made a statement in the House of Commons on preparations for the end of the Transition Period.
- The British Embassy in Brussels has been holding meetings across Belgium to update UK citizens working and living in the country regarding the UK's departure from the European Union.
- The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster spoke in the House of Commons about the Government's approach to our future relationship with the EU.
- The British Embassy Berne is holding a series of outreach events to update UK nationals living and working in Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
- The British High Commission in Malta is holding meetings in Malta and Gozo to update UK nationals working and living on the islands and answer their queries.
- A message from the Her Majesty´s Ambassador to Luxembourg, John Marshall, about the transition period and citizens rights for UK nationals in Luxembourg.
End of Transition Period Planning
As part of the 2019 Withdrawal Agreement, the UK and the EU agreed the UK’s exit would be followed by a time-limited Transition Period, which will expire at 2300Z on 31 December 2020. Though the government remains committed to obtaining a UK-EU trade deal, the MoD has again started to conduct prudent planning, in respect to the UK becoming a ‘Third Party Nation’ (No Deal Scenario) on 1 January 2021 as per https://www.gov.uk/transition. Though most of the HQ EJSU’s focus has been diverted by COVID during the first six months of 2020, we have always kept an eye on 1 January 2021 and the possible impact on personnel and their dependants of those serving in the EU in a No Deal Scenario.
Travelling in Europe
Passports. The rules on passport validity are changing for travel to the EU. Service Personnel, Civil Servants and their dependants should have at least six months left on their passports from the date they are due to travel. This applies to adult and child passports. If a passport was renewed before it expired, up to 9 extra months may have been added to the new passport’s expiry date. Any extra months on the passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months that should be remaining for travel to most countries in Europe.
What should you do? If you are living in the EU/EEA or expect to conduct travel to an EU/EEA country you should ensure your passport will be valid for travel to the EU using the passport checker on the gov.uk website (www.passport.service.gov.uk/check-a-passport). You will need to have 6 months left from the day of your arrival, excluding any extra months added if you renewed your passport early.
Additional Documentation – Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). Applicable to all personnel and dependants in Europe holding SOFA status. All NATO Service Personnel, Civil Servants and their dependants will be required to have a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) stamp in their passport. This provides additional confirmation of legal status within the nation to which you are assigned. SOFA stamps are issued by your National Support Element (NSE) on joining. All personnel (Service Personnel, Civil Servants and dependants) ‘The SOFA certificate is an expanded version of the SOFA Stamp, sometimes written in both English and the Host Nation languages, and outlines entitlements to Privileges, Concessions or Services’. Upon arrival in post at your assigned location you will receive a SOFA certificate as a routine part of the arrivals process. You should keep this with you at all times when travelling in the EU. You should get in touch with your NSE if you have any questions about SOFA stamps/SOFA certificates.
Travel to non-Schengen EU countries. Please note that Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland and Romania are not in the Schengen area. You should check the entry requirements for these countries before you travel.
What should you do? All UK military personnel, civilian component and dependants should confirm that a SOFA stamp and SOFA certificate has been issued by their NSE. This includes for children of personnel who would normally reside with their parents but are attending schooling in the UK.
The EU Settlement Scheme
In both a deal and no deal scenario, EU, EEA and Swiss national spouses, partners and dependants accompanying Service Personnel and Civil Servants overseas who have previously been resident in the UK will have their time abroad on posting counted towards UK residence under the EU Settlement Scheme.
If you are currently on assignment within the EU, EEA or Switzerland with dependants who are EU, EEA or Swiss nationals they will be able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme once they have been to the UK. They will be able to return under current rules until 29 Mar 2022 even if they have not lived here before.
The Home Office has published guidance on the EU Settlement Scheme (page 61), which provides advice on how you can evidence time spent overseas on a posting https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/899738/main-euss-guidance-v6.0-gov-uk.pdf. If your dependant is unable to demonstrate that they were in the UK before posting you should follow the guidance at https://www.gov.uk/eusettledstatus
What Should you do? Applications to the EU Settlement Scheme are now open and will remain so until at least 31 December 2020. If you have dependants who are EU, EEA or Swiss nationals who have been to the UK previously, they are able to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme now.
Whether you are living in an EU/EEA country or expecting to conduct travel there, you are advised to hold the following to drive legally in an EU country:
• An International Driving Permit (IDP). The table at page 4 provides details of which IDP you will need for each country. Service personnel and UK Civil Servants who require an IDP in connection with their duties can reclaim the cost via JPA or HRMS. They are available for purchase from a UK Post Office or a Forces Post Office that sells them
- A ‘green card’ (or multiple green cards) demonstrating proof of insurance for your vehicle(s).
- A GB sticker for your car, even if you have a GB identifier on your number plate.
You will also need to ensure you comply with host nation vehicle registration requirements. Your NSE can provide advice.
Do I need an IDP?
|Country||if you have a paper licence:||If you have a photocard licence:|
|Austria||Yes – 1968 IDP||Not required for visits up to 6 months. 1968 IDP. required for longer visits.|
|Belgium||Not required for visit up to 185 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.||Not required for visit up to 185 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Bulgaria||Yes – 1968 IDP||Not required for visit up to 3 months. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Croatia||1968 IDP required if you are a Cat D1 or D licence holder under the age of 24, a cat C licence holder under the age of 21 or a cat C1 and B licence holder under the age of 18.||1968 IDP required if you are a Cat D1 or D licence holder under the age of 24, a cat C licence holder under the age of 21 or a cat C1 and B licence holder under the age of 18.|
|Cyprus||Yes – 1949 IDP (Exemption applies for those based in Cyprus)||Yes – 1949 IDP (Exemption applies for those based in Cyprus)|
|Czech Republic||Yes – 1968 IDP||Not required for visit up to 3 months. 1968 IDP required for longer visits|
|Denmark||Not required for visits up to 90 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.||Not required for visits up to 90 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Estonia||Yes – 1968 IDP||No|
|France||Yes – 1968 IDP||Yes – 1968 IDP|
|Germany||Yes – 1968 IDP (Exemption applies for those based in Germany)||Not required for visits up to 6 months. 1968 IDP required for longer visits. (Exemption applies for those based in Germany)|
|Greece||Yes – 1968 IDP||No|
|Hungary||Not required for visits up to 12 months. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.||Not required for visits up to 12 months. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Iceland||Not required for visits up to 1 month. 1949 IDP required for longer visits.||Not required for visits up to 1 month. 1949 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Ireland||Not required for visits up to 12 months. 1949 IDP required for longer visits.||Not required for visits up to 12 months. 1949 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Italy||Yes – 1968 IDP||Yes – 1968 IDP|
|Latvia||Yes – 1968 IDP||No|
|Liechtenstein||Yes – 1926 IDP||Yes – 1926 IDP|
|Lithuania||Yes – 1968 IDP||Not required for visits up to 185 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Luxembourg||Not required for visits up to 185 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.||Not required for visits up to 185 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Malta||Not required for visits up to 12 months. 1949 IDP required for longer visits.||Not required for visits up to 12 months. 1949 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Norway||Yes – 1968 IDP||Not required for visits up to 90 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Poland||Yes – 1968 IDP||Not required for visits up to 185 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Portugal||Not required for visits up to 185 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.||Not required for visits up to 185 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Romania||Yes – 1968 IDP||No|
|Slovenia||Not required for visits up to 90 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.||Not required for visits up to 90 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Spain||An IDP will not be required for the first 9 months after exit day and then for visits up to 6 months. 1949 IDP required for longer visits.||An IDP will not be required for the first 9 months after exit day and then for visits up to 6 months. 1949 IDP required for longer visits.|
|Sweden||Yes – 1968 IDP||Not required for visits up to 185 days. 1968 IDP required for longer visits.|
The UK’s future relationship with the EU may impact upon the documentation required to confirm proof of vehicle insurance. It may be necessary for UK motorists to carry the internationally-recognised green card as proof of third party insurance.
What Should You Do: You should confirm with your insurance provider for the necessary documentation required for travel to the UK after the Transition Period has ended.
Arrangements for accessing healthcare for you and your dependants when operating in your duty nation or when you are travelling on duty will remain the same in both a deal and no deal scenario. You will continue to be supported and have access to healthcare.
However, the EHIC card scheme will no longer be valid for visiting members of your family and friends. Further details, advice and guidance for visiting family and friends can be found through the following website address:
Duty travel outside of the country of your assigned location. Before proceeding on duty, to or through another country, personnel are to ensure they have adequate Med provision.
When you are conducting duty travel outside of the country of your assigned location:
- Ensure that you understand the arrangements that will apply to enable your access to healthcare when travelling on duty. Different arrangements may be in place depending on which country you are travelling to. You should not assume that provision in a country to which you are travelling is the same as that of your assigned location. Check with your Chain of Command.
- Ensure you have conducted ‘sign-out’.
- Carry your passport & SOFA certificate.
- Carry your MOD 90/NATO ID.
- Be aware of and carry the contact number for your healthcare provider in the country to which you are travelling . You must check with the Chain of Command what number you should use if you are unsure.
Further advice on ensuring you have adequate medical cover can be obtained from the Chain of Command through SO2 J1 Med EJSU Maj Mark Reed at Mark.Reed283@mod.gov.uk or on 0032 6544 2254.
Leave travel. You and your dependants are not covered medically when you go on leave outside of the country of your assigned location. It is your responsibility to ensure that you and your dependants are medically covered by travel insurance. Anybody with pre-existing conditions e.g. diabetes, heart disease or cancer, may need to investigate specialist insurance. There is no difference to taking a day trip by car, France – Belgium, from going on holiday, France – Peru, it is your responsibility to ensure you and your family are adequately covered by a travel insurance.
Customs: Privately Owned Goods and Vehicles
The UK’s future relationship with the EU may impact the movement of personal effects and motor vehicles to the UK and in particular affect the rules governing VAT. Information on applying for Transfer of Residence relief can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-transfer-of-residence-tor-relief-tor01.
Customs: Dutiable Goods
The UK’s future relationship with the EU impact upon the import and export allowances of goods. This means the amount of dutiable goods that our host nation permits SOFA entitled individuals to import and export monthly.
|Item||Import (Into Europe)||Export (Duty Free i.e. From Belgium/EU to UK)|
|Spirits||2 Litres||10 Litres|
|Wine & Beer||2 Litres||90 Litres|
|Pure Coffee Extract||125g||125g|
|Mixed Coffee Extract||250g||125g|
If you are expecting to travel with a pet to the EU after the Transition Period, you should take the necessary steps to ensure your pet can travel in accordance with UK and EU regulations. Today, this process can take over 4 months
. So You should contact your vet well in advance of travel and review www.gov.uk/brexit-pet-travel websites to get the latest advice. Similarly, if you’re living in the EU and plan to travel with your pet using a UK-issued pet passport from 1 January 2021, you should speak to your vet for advice on travel.
If you have a pet passport issued by an EU member state, you can still use it to bring your pet to the UK. You can also use it to return to the EU, as long as your pet has had a successful rabies antibody blood test. You must ensure the blood sample is taken at least 30 days after the date of rabies vaccination.
If the blood sample is taken in the UK, you must wait 3 months before you travel back to the EU. You do not have to wait the 3 months before travelling if your pet has a successful blood test before leaving the EU.
What should you do? To make sure your pet is able to travel from the UK to the EU in any scenario, you should contact your vet at least 4 months before travelling to get the latest advice. Further information can be found at www.gov.uk/brexit-pet-travel.
Privately Owned Weapons
UK residents who want to travel to the EU with their firearms or shotguns will no longer be able to apply for a European Firearms Pass (EFP) from 1 January 2021.
Instead, you should check the firearms licensing requirements of the EU country you’re travelling to, ahead of travelling. These requirements will also apply if you will be in an EU country with your firearm, covered by a EFP, when we leave the EU
The UK.GOV link Check what you must do in the country where you live, clearly states what the changes will mean to a UK expats in a certain EU country. It should be noted that not all of these changes effect UK members of the Force and if unsure individuals are to approach their NSEs in the first instance for clarification.
What to do if you identify a EU Transition Issue?
Should you experience any issues in location which you believe are attributed to EU Transition you are requested to feed them to HQ EJSU via your NSE and in an emergency out of hours to the EJSU Duty Field Officer – 0032472782251.
For more information please visit the official Government web Site