What is Brexit?
Brexit is the impending withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) from the European Union (EU). On 29 March 2017, the UK Government informed the European Council about its intention to leave the EU. The United Kingdom will leave the EU on 31st of January 2020. Until this date, the UK remains an EU Member State with all the rights and obligations associated with membership.
Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union on the withdrawal from the European Union (based on Article 50 of the Treaty on EU) have been concluded, and the European Council and the government of the United Kingdom have approved the withdrawal agreement. For the agreement to enter into force, ratification in the parliament of the United Kingdom and the approval of the European Parliament is required.
*On 10 April 2019, the European Council agreed to a further extension to allow for the ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement by both Parties. Such an extension should last as long as necessary and, in any event, no longer than 31 October 2019.
Citizens of the United Kingdom
- After the United Kingdom leaves the European Union (31 Januray 2020), a transition period will start, which will last until 31 December 2020. Until the end of the transition period the law of the European Union will generally remain applicable to citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members.
- Citizens residing in Estonia will be able to continue to reside here on the basis of a valid ID card.
- Family members of UK citizens who are third-country nationals will be able to stay in Estonia on the basis of their current residence permit.
- Citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members who reside in Estonia or arrive in Estonia before the end of the transition period will not have to apply for a new document (e.g. residence permit) as a result of the withdrawal agreement.
- A new document certifying the right of residence in Estonia will be issued from 2021.
- Additional information is available on the website of the Ministry of the Interior: What will change for citizens of the United Kingdom who are presently residing in Estonia
- 21 February 2019 Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) passed the Act that regulates the conditions for residing in Estonia after Brexit for the citizens of the United Kingdom and their family members. Read more from the Riigikogu homepage.
- The United Kingdom will leave the European Union before 31 October 2019. Until that day the United Kingdom is a member state of the EU, and all the rights and obligations arising therefrom will apply to it (including EU law regarding the right of free movement of EU citizens).
- By today, the European Union and the United Kingdom have approved a withdrawal agreement, which also stipulates the protection of the rights of EU citizens living in the United Kingdom under the conditions that have applied so far.
- The same rights remain valid until the end of the transition period (31 December 2020, with the possibility of a one-time extension) for EU citizens arriving in the United Kingdom.
- The United Kingdom is planning a new residence permit application process for the citizens of Estonia and other EU member states residing in the UK (the EU Settlement Scheme). An electronic platform will be opened for applications by 30 March 2019 and the registration deadline is 30 June 2021.
Citizens of the United Kingdom and Estonia (Social Security)
- Upon leaving with an agreement (before 31 October 2019), a transition period will follow, lasting until 31 December 2020. During this time, social security is subject to the usual EU rules.
- Until 31 December 2020, the cross-border payment of social security benefits (e.g. health insurance and sickness benefits, family benefits, pensions, unemployment benefits) will remain the same as before the withdrawal date of the UK.
- It is recommended to always buy travel insurance before travelling; this also applies when travelling in the European Union. This service is provided by private insurance companies.
- Communication from the UK Government to EU citizens residing in the UK
- It is possible to sign up for e-mail updates about future changes on the website of the UK Government.
- Questions and answers prepared by the European Commission:
- Video of the European Commission about the system of applying for new right of residence
- The UK will leave the EU before 31 October 2019 (Withdrawal Agreement may enter into force on an earlier date). Pursuant to the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement, there will be a transition period from the date that UK leaves until 31 December 2020.
- The UK will remain a member of the internal market during this period and EU law will apply in and to the UK as it does today. After the end of the transition period, a future economic relationship should be regulated by a new agreement, which will be negotiated after the UK has left the EU.
- We advise entrepreneurs to think about the following in order to manage risks:
- find out how goods are currently exchanged with third countries (customs issues, mutual recognition, product labelling, standards, etc.);
- keep an eye on developments in EU law (e.g. specific amendments in relation to Brexit may be introduced);
- take a look at how the goods/services related to the market of the UK are covered in other international agreements of the EU;
- sector-specific preparations could be initiated by comparing the EU law in your sector with the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement(CETA).
- The European Commission has prepared technical Brexit preparedness notices in a number of areas that provide primary information about the impending changes and their possible consequences. The list of notices is regularly updated. More information can be found on the Brexit website of the EU Information Centre:
- How to prepare for Brexit? - Customs guide for businesses by the European Commission
- How the taxation rules will change after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union and the European Economic Area by Estonian Tax and Customs Board
- Brexit and its effects on customs clearance and on the trade with the United Kingdom by Estonian Tax and Customs Board
Relations between Estonia and the United Kingdom
An overview of the bilateral relations between Estonia and the UK, including our economic relationship and trade, can be found on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On 10 February 2017 the Minister of Foreign Affairs established a national working group for mapping the interests of Estonia and developing the positions of Estonia in the negotiations of the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. The working group, which consists of the representatives of all ministries, is led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Department for European Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Telephone: (372) 637 7260