Brexit Ends Britons’ Right to Live and Work in EU

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference in Downing Street on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, in London, Britain December 24, 2020. (Paul Grover /Pool via REUTERS)

On Jan. 1, Britain embarks on its new relationship with the EU. The change for Britain’s economy and people is the most dramatic since World War II, certainly more so than when the country joined what was then the European Economic Community in 1973.

The end of freedom of movement will represent the most tangible Brexit consequence so far.

Under the divorce deal agreed by the two sides on Dec. 24, the roughly one million British citizens who are legal residents in the EU will have broadly the same rights as they have now. The same applies to more than 3 million EU citizens living in the U.K. But British citizens will no longer have the automatic right to live and work in the EU, and vice versa. People who want to cross the border to settle will have to follow immigration rules and face other red tape such as ensuring their qualifications are recognized.

Although traveling for vacations will remain visa-free, British nationals will only be allowed to spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU, while the U.K. will allow European citizens to stay for up to six consecutive months.

The deal means British drivers won’t need an international driving permit once they cross the Channel. British motorists can travel in the EU on their U.K. licenses and insurance, as long as they carry proof that they are insured in the form of a “green card.”

Businesses will also find it far more difficult and costly to hire people from the other side. The deal does include provisions to allow contractors and business travelers to make short-term work trips without visas.

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