Are you prepared for the changes within Europe after 1 January 2021? Esther Thomas, AFF’s manager overseas, has seen a recent increase in enquiries from army families about the impending end of the UK transition phase.
“It has been frustrating not being able to give specific advice, as there are still so many areas under negotiation and each family’s individual circumstances will require some review,” says Esther.
She advises that you use the official gov.uk/transition online tool to help personalise a list of actions, check travel advice and sign up to get official updates.
To help prepare those assigned to a European Joint Support Unit (EJSU), a new Op Cell has been established to provide guidance via esju.net and for those in Cyprus, EU transition info will be available on the SBAA website – sbaadministration.org
Things you ought to check in the lead-up to 1 January 2021 include:
Passport – on the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to have at least six months left and be less than ten years old.
Travel insurance that covers your healthcare – If you have a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will be valid until the expiry date on the card. Once it expires, you’ll need to apply for a GHIC to replace it. For more info, see www.gov.uk/global-health-insurance-card
Driving documents – you may need extra documents such as an International Driving Permit in some countries.
Pet travel – you won’t be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. Allow four months to follow a different process.
Border administration – be prepared to show your return ticket or onward ticket; and that you have sufficient money for your stay.
Mobile roaming – the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming will end.
UK bank accounts – some customers may be affected if they use a European Economic Area address. Contact your UK bank and provide a BFPO address.
Purchasing goods from the UK – there may be additional charges such as import duty for goods, so check with your supplier before you place an order to ensure you are not charged UK VAT.
Sending and receiving mail – check gov.uk/bfpo for guidance.
Running a business from an overseas assignment – you may need to make a customs declaration if you take goods to sell abroad or use for business.
Visas – short visits to other countries – UK nationals generally won’t need a visa on a short trip to most EU countries. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Non-UK nationals may require additional visas even if assigned overseas with the armed forces.
Visas – assignments and living in other countries – you may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.
All non-UK nationals should seek advice from their chain of command on receipt of an overseas assignment.
EU settlement scheme – the rule that allows EU, EEA and Swiss nationals to live in the UK will change. You are strongly advised to seek advice on dependants’ immigration status in the UK.
Any army family requiring advice on the EU settlement scheme should contact AFF’s F&C specialists – aff.org.uk.