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I've got a trip planned to the UK in June. Due to brexit, I'm worried what changes may be introduced before my arrival.

I'm traveling on a EU / Polish passport. I'm going for a couple weeks of holiday.

Is there anything I can do right now to make it less likely any changes won't stop me at the immigration? For example, applying for some tourist visa which does not rely on the EU status?

  • I don't believe any travel insurance I got so far covers denied immigration entry. Have you got some examples that do? – viraptor Mar 11 at 1:56
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    No, but travel insurance typically covers cancellation of a trip before you have started (if you find out that the visa requirements change in the next few weeks). – Greg Hewgill Mar 11 at 2:03
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    @MichaelHampton I think that link is the best answer for the moment - do you want to post it as one? – viraptor Mar 11 at 9:08
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    VTC: Brexit questions have been deemed off topic. – WBT Mar 12 at 20:08
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While there is a huge level of uncertainty about what will happen after Brexit, or even if Brexit will actually occur, guidance for people visiting the UK after Brexit (thanks @MichaelHampton) would indicate that visa free entry for citizens of an EU country (and Switzerland) is built into British law, and not dependent on EU membership. In other words an exit from the EU, whatever the circumstances, does not automatically revoke the visa free rules. They would have to be specifically repealed by Parliament.

This means that you will still be allowed to enter the UK after Brexit unless the British Parliament passes rules to say you cannot. If that were to happen you would hear about it. The likelihood of it happening within the next few months is very small, and the likelihood of it taking effect in the next few months even smaller.

Most travel insurances have specific exclusions against covering 'government action'. The only thing you could reasonably do to protect yourself against the (very small) chance that Britain votes to prevent foreigners visiting is to buy an insurance that allows you to cancel "for any reason".

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JonathanReez Supports Monica Mar 12 at 20:11
  • What Brexit will almost certainly affect (if/when it happens) is the ability to travel to the UK with EU national IDs. – tomasz Mar 13 at 12:14
  • Please clarify which British law guarantees visa free entry for EU citizens. Wasn't the amendment to the Article 50 bill guaranteeing EU citizens' rights rejected? – Nikolai Mar 18 at 15:06
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    I'm not saying there is a law guaranteeing visa free entry. I'm saying that the law currently says "EU citizens can enter without visa" (as opposed, for example, to having an EU treaty say that EU citizens can enter visa free and the UK saying they abide by that treaty). That means the UK parliament has pass laws to change the ability of EU citizens to enter visa free (or as seems possible, allow the appropriate minister to change it by regulation). The chief point is that exiting the EU does not of itself change the rules on visa free entry. – DJClayworth Mar 18 at 16:25
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According to this piece, written by a staffer at the House of Commons Library, the Immigration Bill currently passing through the House of Commons will repeal the existing EU legislation on a date to be decided by regulation (i.e. when the Home Secretary decides to do so).

It also says that the new immigration arrangements will be decided and implemented by regulation under the Immigration Act 1971 - i.e. according to the whim of the Home Secretary.

Whilst government white papers do talk about implementation and transition periods from 29th March until 2020 or January 2021, there is very little detail on how the new immigration rules will work as related to EU visitors, except for a short section that suggests that EU nationals will be treated as non-visa nationals (like US nationals at present) and will not need a visa to visit the UK.

In short, the new regulations will be announced by the Home Secretary in due course, and EU citizens should expect to be able to visit the UK visa-free.

There are caveats, however.

  • It's not at all clear what will happen in the period from 29th March to the end of any implementation period.
  • Since immigration policy is implemented by regulation it can change at the whim of the government at any time.
  • Spain is making trouble over Gibraltar that could result in UK citizens needing a visa to visit the EU. In this case it's likely that EU visitors to Britain will also need visas.
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    While this is useful information, the staffer who wrote this was probably assuming that there would be an orderly and well thought out process for completing Brexit, and sufficient time to pass the relevant legislation once the deal was finalized. – DJClayworth Mar 11 at 15:20
  • @DJClayworth the bill is structured so that it can be passed before the date is determined, with an eye to being functional (as the linked piece says) "whether we have a Brexit deal or a no-deal scenario." – phoog Mar 11 at 18:38
  • @DJClayworth Presumably the staffer was new to the post, then. – Strawberry Mar 12 at 18:02
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While visa regulations can change quickly, particularly as an emergency measure, it is unlikely that a new visa requirement for Polish nationals will be introduced without a long notice period. Meanwhile, the UK government has repeatedly stated that nationals of EU countries will not require visas to visit the UK, unless their own government were to suddenly introduce the same for UK nationals visiting their country.

  • Before Slovakia joined the EU the UK decided to require Slovak travelers to have a visa, they gave about NO warning. It started midnight and had been announced about 20:00 on the day before. (I only knew this because I was traveling with a Slovak national who was stopped from entering the UK at the ferry port, nearest visa point being Brussels or Paris, not options at the port.) So do not expect the UK to always warn in advance. – Willeke Mar 12 at 16:15
  • @Willeke While that is certainly possible, it does seem unlikely. But then again, the "we won't if you won't" position held on both sides, combined with Spain's position on Gibraltar, makes the unlikely just that much more likely. I suspect that the UK would give warning if they were to single out a subset of EU countries, but if the Gibraltar controversy somehow leads to the UK being on Annex I then it would not at all be surprising for the UK to put all of the Schengen countries on its "visa nationals" list. – phoog Mar 12 at 16:48

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