Passports, pets and GB stickers:
The Brexit advice issued to Britons
Renew your passport earlier than planned, buy a GB sticker for your car, and prepare to wait four months before you can take your ferret on holiday: these are all among the snippets of advice offered by the government’s new Brexit website for British citizens planning to travel to the EU after 31 October.
The Get Ready site unequivocally states that Brexit will happen by the end of next month. It asks users a series of multiple choice questions and spells out the precautions that individuals should take immediately to make sure they are prepared for the UK to crash out of the EU without a deal.
British citizens resident in the UK who have become used to easily travelling across Europe are warned to ensure that their passport has at least six months to run and told they may once again have to pay roaming charges on their mobile phones.
They are also recommended to allow extra time for border checks at ports and airports and told to make sure they have travel insurance as the European health insurance card – which covers the cost of state-provided healthcare in EU countries – will not be valid in the event of a no-deal exit.
People taking their UK-registered vehicles abroad will have to carry additional paperwork proving their ownership of the vehicle and potentially obtain an international driving permit, while British drivers will face a fine if they do not stick a large GB sticker on their rear bumper, even if they already have the country listed on their number-plate.
Pet passports, which have made it easy for people who regularly travel abroad to take their cat, dog or ferret overseas, could become invalid in the event of no deal, with owners warned it could take up to four months to get the appropriate paperwork and blood tests from vets.
EU citizens in the UK
Although the Get Ready site largely collates existing government advice, the list of suggestions spells out in exacting detail the impact Brexit will have on people and businesses. EU citizens living in the UK are reminded to apply to the settlement scheme“as soon as possible” if they want to remain in the country, while European students are warned that their Erasmus+ placements at British universities may no longer be valid.
British citizens living in Europe
The advice is not detailed and does not spell out the seriousness of the consequences for Britons settled in Europe in the event of no deal. Under EU law they will become third-country nationals and will not be able to offer services to another EU country automatically or to travel for work in another EU country.
The campaign group British in Europe has frequently protested that the British government has forgotten about them. The new website merely advises that “you may not be able to continue living and using services in the EU if you are not a resident”, without spelling out the gravity of the end of free movement for Britons living in the EU.
The more complicated warnings are saved for businesses, although the website does not offer a hierarchy of risks. British companies are warned that they may need to pay for extra legal advice, should consider whether they need to appoint agents and representatives based in Europe, and warned of the extra regulation required if they want to continue trading in the EU after Brexit.
The site warns manufacturers that they may need to change their labelling, companies that handle the data of EU citizens are told they may no longer be able to access it in the same way, and almost all companies are warned starkly: “You may not be able to trade goods with the EU if you do not get your business ready.”
Most of the recommended actions are listed with a warning to “do it as soon as possible”, but with fewer than 60 days to go until the planned Brexit day, small businesses checking the website for the first time may not have time to do all the required work.