What does Brexit entail?
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK) withdrew from the European Union (EU) on 1 February 2020. However, a transition period is in force until 31 December 2020, during which the UK remains linked to EU law, including the rules of the internal market and the customs union. Throughout the transition period, negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union continue with the aim of agreeing on their future relationship. The end of the transition period brings great changes for citizens of the European Union who travel to, work or study in the United Kingdom or order goods from the country.
Travelling to the United Kingdom
- Current conditions apply until the end of this year.
- The rules that apply to EU citizens when entering the United Kingdom from 1 January 2021 are still being negotiated.
- It will certainly be possible to travel to the UK for short stays, that is, for up to 90 days over the period of six months, and the citizens of the United Kingdom will be able to travel in the European Union.
- When travelling, you will need to present your passport instead of your ID card.
- It is certain that the European Health Insurance Card will no longer be valid in the United Kingdom from 2021.
- If you wish to continue using your Estonian mobile phone number in the United Kingdom in 2021, you must be aware of changes to roaming fees.
Ordering goods from the United Kingdom
Starting from 1 January 2021, a customs regime will apply between the EU and the United Kingdom. What this will entail for ordering goods is still being negotiated.
Living or working in the United Kingdom
Citizens of Estonia and other European Union member states living and working in the United Kingdom must apply for a new right of residence; the electronic application platform is open until 30 June 2021. Nothing will change until the end of the transition period for people who have already registered as permanent residents or who have already applied for the scheme. The terms of the withdrawal agreement preserve all the rights that currently apply to EU citizens in the UK.
If you plan to move to the United Kingdom, please keep in mind that the rules that will apply from 2021 are still being negotiated. You may need to present an existing work permit.
Studying in the United Kingdom
If you are studying in the United Kingdom, the current rules will apply until the end of the transition period. It is important to keep in mind that tuition fees and other terms will continue to be regulated by the contract signed between the student and the university.
The terms that apply to beginning studies in the United Kingdom starting from 1 January 2021 are still being negotiated.
The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU does not bring changes for entrepreneurs during the transition period. Entrepreneurs who are trading with the UK should prepare for changes from 1/01/2021, when the UK ceases to be a member of the EU internal market and customs union. A customs regime will apply to certain goods, and the movement of goods may be hindered. Precise terms will likely be elaborated shortly before the end of the year.
Information and contacts
EU citizens can get information from the free number 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11, which works for calls made from all EU countries and in all official EU languages.
Enquiries about specific areas can be made to the communications department of a relevant ministry or authority.
Citizens of the United Kingdom
- On 1 of February 2020, a transition period began, lasting 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
- On 21 February 2019, Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) passed an 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 withdrawal agreement 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) for EU citizens arriving in the United Kingdom.
- People with undetermined citizenship have the status of third country nationals in the United Kingdom. Their stay in the country is regulated by UK law and in general, the withdrawal agreement does not protect or address them.
- 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 was opened for applications by 30 March 2019 and the registration deadline is 30 June 2021. It is open to citizens arriving in the UK before the end of the transition period (01/01/2021). Anyone moving to the UK after that date will be subject to new rules.
Citizens of the United Kingdom and Estonia (Social Security)
- Until 31 December 2020, the cross-border payment of social security benefits (such as health insurance and sickness benefits, family benefits, pensions, unemployment benefits) will continue as before the United Kingdom's departure from the EU.
- More information about social security in the EU is available on the website of the Social Insurance Board.
- More information about health insurance in the EU is available on the website of the Estonian Health Insurance Fund.
- 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
- A transition period is in force until 1 January 2021, and the goal is for the United Kingdom and member states of the European Union to agree on future trade rules.
- Starting from 1 January 2021, trade with the UK will be subject to substantial changes, as the UK will leave both the internal market as well as the customs union of the European Union. This means that the free movement of goods, services, capital and people will end, and the UK will become a third country in terms of trade.
- 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);
- read the European Commission's communication on readiness at the end of the transition period between the European Union and the United Kingdom, which outlines changes that will occur in any scenario;
- read the European Commission's readiness notices with information about upcoming changes and potential consequences;
- for preparations of companies operating in the United Kingdom, please consult the Brexit readiness checklist of the European Commission;
- 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 United Kingdom will become a third country for the European Union, which means it should be taken into consideration that export and import procedures between the United Kingdom and European Union member states will become more time-consuming and complicated.
- After the transition period, the United Kingdom will no longer be a member of the European Economic Area (EEA). This means that after the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU, the payment accounts opened in credit or payment institutions established in the United Kingdom can no longer be used for monetary contributions to Estonian companies.
- 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.
Our aim is to minimise the effect of Brexit on citizens and entrepreneurs.
We would like to thank the United Kingdom for their cooperation as a member of the European Union. The United Kingdom will remain an important ally, partner and friend for Estonia even outside the EU.
We wish to conclude agreements on future relations with the United Kingdom as soon as possible.
Estonians still love British humour and football. We will continue watching BBC series and the Premier League.
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