BREXIT UPDATE: What will change in 2021?

December 14, 2020

On this website, the Finland Society will update current issues connected to the repercussions of Brexit on private citizens.

N.B. We aim to update the latest news on this site regularly but recommend that you also follow updates directly on official websites (see links in the end of this bulletin). The Finland Society cannot be held liable for any possible errors in the bulletin.

Britain’s withdrawal from the EU on January 31, 2020 launched a transition period lasting through the end of 2020. Britain committed to follow EU legislation and international treaties during this period. After the transition period, however, many new regulations will take effect. These are still being negotiated and will be updated.

On July 9, 2020, the European Commission published a Communication about the most important changes which will take place in any event after the end of the transition period, regardless of whether the EU and Britain reach an agreement on their future relationship, entitled ‘Getting ready for changes – Communication on readiness at the end of the transition period between the European Union and the United Kingdom’: EUROPEAN COMMISSION: Getting ready for changes.

It is possible that some sectors may fall into a treaty-less relationship as of January 1, 2021 due to the tight negotiation schedule.

Finns living in Britain and British citizens living in Finland: Right of residence

The withdrawal agreement will secure residence, work and social security rights, based on EU legislation, for EU citizens living in Britain and for British citizens living in the EU countries, as long as they settled in Britain or in the EU country before January 1, 2021. Their status and rights will be protected as they are on December 31, 2020 according to the main EU legislation.

Freedom of movement will cease for EU citizens and British citizens who move to each other’s area after December 31, 2020 and there will be restrictions imposed on their entry and rights.

However, nearly everyone (i.e. all Finnish citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in Finland) must re-register their right of residence with officials in their country of residence.

Finnish citizens living in Britain

Nearly all Finnish citizens living in Britain and their family members must apply for new residence permits through the EU Settlement Scheme registration system if they wish to continue living in Britain after December 31, 2020. The EU Settlement Scheme applies to EU citizens who have arrived in the country before January 1, 2021 as well as their family members.

All Finnish citizens and their family members living in Britain are urged to apply for new residence permits through the EU Settlement Scheme as soon as possible if they have not done so yet and plan to continue residing in Britain after December 31, 2020. According to present information, Finnish citizens and their family members must submit applications for new residence permits through the EU Settlement Scheme registration system by June 30, 2021.

Instructions for Finnish citizens for right of-residence registration in Britain:

British citizens living in or moving to Finland and right of residence under the withdrawal agreement

There have been changes in the right of residence for British citizens and their family members residing in Finland as of October 1, 2020.

Please follow instructions from the Finnish Immigration Service on the right of residence and application deadlines.

Instructions for British citizens for applying for right of residence are available through these links:

Movement between Britain and Finland

Finnish citizens moving or travelling to Britain after December 31, 2020

After the transition period ends on December 31, 2020, Finns’ free movement to Britain ends. Restrictions will be imposed on entry and the rights of Finns arriving in the country after that date. Finns entering Britain will then be subject to entry regulations which apply to citizens of third countries.

Britain’s government has announced that it will revise its immigration system. According to present information, the new immigration system will take effect on January 1, 2021 but we are still awaiting more precise information. The EU and Britain are negotiating details on immigration and more information will be provided when the situation becomes clear.

According to present information, however, Finnish citizens are allowed to travel to Britain without visa for short-time residence as of January 1, 2021. A valid passport will be accepted as a travel document in the future.

More information on British entry regulations is available here: Entering the UK

Please note when travelling

Travellers should take into account changes in border inspections, possible upcoming visa requirements, pet passports, driver’s licences, mobile network roaming fees and customs duties when travelling to or from the UK. More information on the validity of the European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance recommendations will be provided in the next paragraph, ‘Brexit and social security’.

Brexit and social security

The EU and Britain are seeking to agree on cooperation arrangements concerning coordination of social security systems for the future movement of people, among other issues. The goal is for the forthcoming relationship to be valid after the end of transition period, as of January 1, 2021. More detailed information on the coming relationship will be provided as the negotiations proceed.

Due to the tight negotiation schedule, rights to social security and healthcare may be based on national legislation as of January 1, 2021. In this case, citizens travelling to Britain should be prepared to acquire private insurance to cover costs caused by sudden illness, for instance.

European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance

The EU and Britain will further negotiate on issues related to social security. Therefore those travelling to Britain or expatriate Finns living in Britain travelling to Finland should not only rely on the European Health Insurance Card after January 1, 2021, but should definitely acquire travel insurance. Kela (the Social Insurance Institution of Finland) will update information on its website as soon as the negotiations proceed: Kela: information about Brexit.

If you plan to travel over the Christmas holiday from Britain to Finland and stay until January (or correspondingly from Finland to Britain), please remember to get travel insurance. A European Health Insurance Card issued by Britain will be valid until the end of this year, but as Britain leaves the European Single Market on January 1, 2021, Britain’s European Health Insurance Card will be discontinued on December 31, 2021 unless the parties agree on other arrangements. The EU and Britain are still negotiating on social security issues. You should therefore most definitely buy travel insurance. Kela will update information on its website as soon as negotiations proceed.

In the prevailing global situation, it is worth buying a travel insurance for the entire trip (even if it starts in December), considering that the European Health Insurance Card will not cover all potential expenses during the trip, such as a possible new flight ticket if you are unable to travel due to illness.

In Finland, one’s home municipality provides social and health services for its residents. For this reason British citizens should make certain before the end of the transition period that their EU right of residence has been registered, and should verify with the Digital and Population Data Services Agency that their home municipality is marked in the Population Information System.

Information on how to change application registrations based on the EU right of residence to a right of residence in line with the withdrawal agreement is available on the websites of the Finnish Ministry of the Interior and the Finnish Immigration Service:

Brexit impact on services of the Finnish Centre for Pensions

The Finnish Centre for Pensions website provides more information on Brexit’s effects on work pensions: Finnish Centre for Pensions: Brexit

Brexit impact on Kela benefits

Kela’s website provides information on Brexit’s effects on Kela benefits, such as national pensions and student allowances as well as rights to healthcare:

Information about Brexit and what it means for the social security benefits available from Kela

Brexit impact on voluntary insurances and additional pensions

The Financial Supervisory Authority’s website provides information on Brexit’s effects on voluntary insurances and voluntary pensions:

Adverse impacts of Brexit on policyholders and beneficiaries must be minimised – 2019 – www.finanssivalvonta.fi

Overseas work and pensions

Present EU regulations are in force during the transition period, lasting through the end of 2020, while the future relationship is negotiated. This means, for instance, that an employee posted to Britain can still be issued an A1 certificate on application. Work pensions will also be paid normally to Britain and pensions accumulated in Britain will be paid to Finland according to EU regulations.

After January 1, 2021, when the transition period ends, the withdrawal agreement will be applied to people moving between the EU and Britain. The withdrawal agreement can be applied after that date to people who are still in a cross-border situation between the EU and Britain, such as posted employees.

A1 certificates issued before December 31, 2020 will be valid normally during the transition period. If the certificate was applied for and issued for a period which exceeds January 1, 2021, it will be valid through the time marked in the certificate. A certificate can also be applied for retroactively.

For the A1 certificate to be valid after January 1, 2021, the withdrawal agreement must apply to person’s situation and he or she must still be in a cross-border situation. More information about these requirements is available at Työeläkelakipalvelu (Employment Pension Act Service, only in Finnish and Swedish).

If a person does not meet the withdrawal agreement’s requirements, he or she cannot in principle be issued an A1 certificate to Britain after January 1, 2021. In that case, Finland’s and Britain’s national legislations will be applied to the situation.

During 2020, the EU and Britain have negotiated their future relationship, such as social security for people moving between countries. The negotiations are still in progress.

Brexit impact on work pensions paid by Finland: If you live in Britain and receive work pension from Finland, Brexit does not affect the payment of your pension. Work pensions are paid from Finland anywhere in the world, including Britain, regardless of Brexit.

More information on Finnish Centre for Pensions webpage.

If you have questions about Brexit and social security, you can contact the Finnish Centre for Pensions and/or Kela in Finland and, if necessary, corresponding officials in Britain and enquire more precisely about Brexit’s impact on your social security.

The Finnish Centre for Pensions’ customer service

Kela’s customer service

Banking services

After Brexit, there will be changes in banking services for Finns living in Britain and those who have returned from Britain to Finland. Since these changes are bank-specific, you should contact your own financial institution directly. It is well worth finding out, which transactions you can carry out online, whether there will be changes in the present banking services (such as credit card use, funds, investment accounts) and whether maintaining banking services requires a permanent or temporary address in Britain. You should also find out how Brexit will affect future banking services (such as opening an account and acquiring a new credit card).

If your own bank has not yet contacted you regarding these changes, it is worth asking the bank about changes taking place as of January 1, 2021. The daily Helsingin Sanomat wrote about the subject in October: HS: Britanniassa asuvilta suomalaisilta lähtee brexitin takia osa pankkipalveluista

Studies

There may be changes in the cost of studies in Britain after Brexit, since universities now charge higher term fees for students from outside the EU than from EU countries. People coming to Britain to study will need a visa after the transition period ends. The changes will probably apply to new degree students who begin their studies after the end of the transition period. There is more updated information available on the Universities UK website Brexit FAQs (universitiesuk.ac.uk). More information on Brexit’s impact on Erasmus students is available on the website of Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture: FAQ about COVID-19 – OKM – Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland (minedu.fi)

Online shopping

When free movement between the EU countries and Britain ceases as of January 1, 2021, there will be changes in value added tax (VAT) on products, as well as customs duties. This should be taken into account when shopping online, for instance. The subject of Europe Information’s Brexit-niksit 3.0 (Brexit tips in Finnish) is online shopping from Britain, verkkokauppaostokset Britanniasta. The article series Brexit-niksit is well worth following, if you can read Finnish. It provides practical examples of how Britain’s withdrawal from the EU affects citizens.

More information and sources

Read more about Brexit agreement negotiations as well as negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and Britain and its impact on citizens: