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Chris Bell

How Will Brexit Affect Business Travellers?



While most people are now long sick of hearing about Brexit constantly, businesses continue to be upset by the fact that no one seems to be taking their warnings about the impact of Brexit seriously. For many entrepreneurs, we aren’t making nearly enough noise about Brexit. As time goes on, the continuing uncertainty surrounding our future relationship with our biggest and most important trading partners is causing concern.

Business leaders are understandably frustrated by the current state of affairs and businesses of all sizes are being negatively impacted by their inability to make stable long-term plans. As things stand, it’s impossible to say what arrangements will be in place when, or if, we leave. However, we can make some educated guesses about what is likely to change for business travellers in the future.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to sugar-coat it, Brexit will be bad for business. Unless we witness a drastic reversal in policy and the government starts pursuing a deal that grants us single market access, there is no scenario in which we leave the EU and see businesses thrive as a result.

Businesses need to prepare as much as possible for our potential departure from the European Union. Here are the key considerations that are likely to affect travellers in the near future.

Passports

This is the biggest question on everyone’s mind, what will the passport situation be when we leave? Well, that’s anyone’s guess right now. However, there has already been a change in circumstances, with a big asterisk next to the UK’s status as part of the EU’s freedom of movement arrangements.

While the UK remains a part of the EU, British citizens will still have the right to freedom of movement throughout the EU. However, if British citizens wish to travel through the Schengen area, they will need to have at least six months left on their passport, even if they aren’t planning on staying that long. You need to remember this when you next check your passport to ensure it is still in date.

If you find that your passport is set to expire or that it won’t have the required six months left until its expiry date, you will need to renew it as soon as possible. You can do this online or through your local passport office.

For example, if you are based up North in Scotland there is the option of visiting the Glasgow passport office can provide a fast track passport application process, an urgent passport application for those who need a new passport as soon as possible. Visit the above link to book an appointment today, as you will need to make an appointment before you travel to the passport office in Glasgow. There are also offices based in a variation of other locations that you can see on the website. The passports-office website offers a range of passport office appointments to suit the level of urgency required.

Looking to the future, it is worth noting that if we leave the EU travellers from the UK will need to queue at border control and will not be able to use the fast track lane that is available to travellers who are travelling within the EU. This will inevitably slow you down so if you are making travel plans for after October 31st, you will need to factor this delay into your timings.

Driving and Insurance

Under the current system, UK drivers can drive in the EU without having to apply for another driving licence. As long as a vehicle and its driver are appropriately insured and licenced, they will also be able to drive in other EU countries. Some EU countries have additional rules that drivers must follow. For example, a number of EU nations require drivers to always carry certain safety equipment in the boot of their vehicle.

It is likely that our government will seek to strike a reciprocal deal with the EU so that UK and EU drivers’ licences will be considered mutually valid. However, there are no guarantees that such an arrangement is possible, even if our government was interested in pursuing one.

Should the UK leave the EU without a deal, we will probably require that drivers who are taking their cars abroad earn an international driving permit (IDP). In fact, if you travel to Europe with the intention of visiting multiple countries, you may end up needing multiple IDPs.

The UK has issued IDPs in the past, but many of these will no longer be accepted if and when EU laws and regulations cease to apply. Ireland has confirmed that it will continue to allow drivers from the UK who hold a valid licence and insurance to drive on Irish roads without requiring an IDP.

IDPs are time-limited permits. You can obtain one from any post office for a small fee.

Of course, this all assumes that you are travelling on a personal license and using a personal vehicle. If you are a professional haulage driver, for example, you will need a different type of licence. Whether the EU will continue to accept the existing licenses, or whether the UK plans to reciprocate, is uncertain.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that professional lorry drivers can do to prepare for this. Like the rest of us, they can only wait and see what the government comes up with.

As far as insurance goes, if we leave then UK drivers will need to apply for a green card to prove that they have car insurance while travelling abroad. It is possible that the European Commission will waive this requirement, but there are no guarantees. If you are involved in a traffic collision while travelling through the EU on business, you will need to bring a claim against the other driver in the country where the accident occurred.

Mobile Phone Roaming Charges

EU regulations mean that mobile phone operators are currently unable to charge absurd fees to users who use their phone abroad. Many of us can remember how expensive it used to be to use our mobile phone in another country, an issue made all the more frustrating by the multinational nature of the telecommunications businesses that own all the major mobile phone networks in Europe. Thankfully, the EU stepped in to ensure that these large corporations could not squeeze money out of their customers by strong-arming them into accepting exorbitant fees.

Once we leave the EU, it is likely that mobile phone network operators will push hard to be allowed to reintroduce these charges. For businesspeople, this is potentially a massive headache. Imagine if your phone usage had been charged under the old regime when you were last in Europe on business. For many, this would add significantly to their overall costs. For some people, it might even make a European trip unfeasible.

Again, there is still hope that a deal will be struck. There has been some indication from mobile network operators that they will not seek to reimpose roaming charges on their customers, although they will be perfectly legally entitled to do so.

Leaving the EU could have profound implications for all Brits, but businesses and entrepreneurs are going to be hit particularly hard. The continuing uncertainty is causing a number of headaches for business leaders who find themselves suddenly unable to plan for the future. Being aware of how Brexit is likely to affect your business travel plans will at least enable you to take some small preparatory steps.