Can UK nationals travel to the EU without a visa?
That depends on the purpose of the trip.
- Tourists do not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. They will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
- Business visitors to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for less than 90 days in a 180-day period, may be able to do some activities without getting a visa or work permit, for example going to a business meeting.
- If traveling to take up work, UK nationals will typically require a residence and/or work permit in advance of travel.
- All visits, business or otherwise subject to any pandemic travel restrictions.
UK nationals will be subject to scrutiny as to the purpose of their trip. If a border officer considers that they are travelling for a reason not permitted as a visitor, they can refuse entry.
However, these current arrangements may not be permanent. The UK and EU have committed to give each other notice in good time (at least three months) of a decision to require the other’s nationals to obtain a visa prior to travel. The UK has committed to treat the EU as one bloc for future decisions on whether EU nationals will require a visa for visits to the UK.
Have the EU and UK agreed what types of activities business visitors can perform?
The following are specified in the Agreement as permitted business visit activities that do not require a visa or work permit (so long as they meet the definitions given of the activity in the Agreement):
- Meetings and consultations
- Research and design
- Marketing research
- Training seminars
- Trade fairs and exhibitions
- After-sales or after-lease service
- Commercial transactions
- Tourism personnel
- Translation and interpretation
However, many Member States have expressed reservations to these activities in the Agreement. This makes it impossible to rely on the Agreement as providing blanket permission across the EU.
Member States retain the ability to offer more favourable rules (as many do) and the fact that an activity is not listed in the Agreement does not mean that activity is not permitted by every Member State. The ability to conduct the agreed activities will require a Member State-by-Member State assessment in many if not all cases - there are close to 30 reservations by Member States in respect of the above activities in the Agreement.
The UK has made no reservations and in fact the UK has preferable business visitor rules in place for all nationals above those in this Agreement in any event, that cover e.g., remote work as an ancillary activity.