Preparing for Brexit

A UK Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration on the future relationship between the UK and EU has been endorsed by the European Council.

Date of EU Exit

The European Council has agreed to a request from the UK Government for an extension to Article 50.

This extension runs until October 31, 2019.

A number of government guidance documents refer to the original leave date of Friday 29 March. This date may be replaced by the revised exit date.

Keeping up to date

The Government publishes regularly updated guidance for individuals and businesses on Brexit.  You can also sign up to receive email updates to get the latest information.

Government guidance on the Settlement Scheme is available online in 26 EU languages.

communities toolkit is available now for community leaders to promote the settlement scheme.

The Home Office provides online guidance on the GOV.UK website.

Registered immigration advisers, including some Citizen’s Advice Bureaux, can provide detailed guidance.

Information for residents

EU Citizens’ rights

If you’re an EU citizen, you can now apply for the Settlement Scheme, which allows you and your close family members to continue to live and work in the UK after Brexit.

Settled status means you will remain eligible for:

  • Public services, such as healthcare and schools
  • Public funds and pensions
  • British citizenship, if you want to apply and meet the requirements

You’ll need to register for the scheme online by 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

If you want more information, you can sign up for email updates.

A Government policy paper sets out the government’s intention in the event of a no-deal Brexit:

  • EU citizens and their families living in the UK up to 12 April 2019 will have broadly the same entitlements to healthcare, education, benefits and social housing, including supported housing and homelessness assistance, that they have now
  • Any EU citizen living in the UK by 31 December 2020 can apply under the Settlement Scheme, which will remain open until 31 December 2020
  • EU identity cards will initially remain valid for travel to the UK

Irish citizens’ rights

If you’re an Irish citizen you don’t need to apply under the Settlement Scheme.

The Government has published guidance on the rights of Irish citizens under the Common Travel Area, which are not dependent on UK’s future relationship with the EU.

EFTA citizens’ rights

The Government has reached agreements on the rights of citizens of Switzerland, plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, allowing them to use the Settlement Scheme.

These agreements are subject to ratification. The policy paper includes a statement on EFTA citizens’ rights in the event of no deal.

Driving in the EU after Brexit

There is Government guidance available on driving licences and driving in the EU for UK citizens.

International travel

If the Withdrawal Act is ratified, UK citizens can continue to travel to the EU states on the same basis as now until the end of December 2020.

In the event of no-deal, points to consider for travel to EU/ EEA are:

  • Passports: Government guidance is that UK passports should be no older than nine years and six months on the day of travel
  • Visas: both the EU and UK have announced the intention to continue visa-free travel for short trips to the EU
  • Driving licences: an International Driving Permit may be required
  • Vehicle Insurance: a Green Card may be required
  • EHIC cards: Access to reciprocal healthcare using EHIC cards may not be available

Driving in the UK

EU and EEA driving licence holders will not require an International Driving Permit.

They can continue to use an EU/ EEA car or motorcycle licence for up to three years after becoming resident or until the age of 70.

Information and advice for businesses and employers

Settlement scheme for employers

If you’re an employer, the Government has produced an Employer Toolkit to help you explain the EU settlement scheme to employees.

The toolkit contains a range of ready to use leaflets and posters.

You might also find information from trade organisations or bodies such as the Federation For Small Businesses useful.

Exporting and importing

HM Revenue and Customs have provided guidance materials that explain how to manage importing and exporting in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The contents cover customs, excise, VAT and regulatory changes. No-deal technical notices provide guidance on more specialist areas.

An online tool is available to identify information that is most relevant to your business.


The Withdrawal Agreement provides for on-going recognition of qualifications during the withdrawal period.

The Government has published a technical notice, which includes guidance on the ongoing recognition of European Economic Area (EEA) professional qualifications in the event of no-deal.

This states that for EEA professionals (including UK nationals holding EEA qualifications) who are already established and have received a recognition decision in the UK, the recognition decision will not be affected and will remain valid.

GDPR Personal Data

There are potential impacts on international transfers of personal data, or for data hosted in the EEA, in the event of a no-deal.

More details are available from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Transfers of data to the EEA will continue to be permitted. Transfers of data from the EEA to the UK will not automatically be permitted, without standard contractual clauses or other arrangements.

There is also a requirement for US organisations to publicly commit to apply the EU/US Privacy Shield to transfers from the UK in the event of no deal.


The Department for Education has set up no-deal preparation advice for schools and similar advice for further education and apprenticeship providers.

Health and social care

The Department for Health and Social Care has published advice for health and care providers and commissioners on preparing for a no-deal scenario.

Food standards

The Food Standards Agency has also produced guidance on preparing your business for leaving the EU.