From January 1, 2021 there will be some key changes including health cover in the EU for UK citizens, passport changes and a new immigration system – here’s what you need to know
On January 1, 2021, the UK’s transition out of the European Union will be complete.
The UK is starting the new year outside of the EU – and while we cannot predict the exact ramifications of Brexit at this stage, we can look at the law changes that will be rung in with the new year.
Changes to passports, how our immigration system works, your right to live and work in EU countries and your health coverage abroad all come in as we go into 2021.
Of course, Brexit includes a raft of changes for businesses and employers too – and you can get tailored advice here.
Below are four changes that could affect you and your family at the start of 2021.
Freedom of movement ends and a new points-based immigration system comes in
The UK’s freedom of movement within the EU – which gives people from EU member countries the right to live and work abroad – will end on December 31. From January 1, 2021, a new immigration system – which uses points – will be brought in.
The Government says the new system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and aims to attract people who can contribute to the UK’s economy. Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.
The points-based system will allow employers in the UK to sponsor skilled workers from abroad.
From January 2021, jobs offered to non-UK workers must have a skill level of ‘RQF3’ or above (equivalent to A level), and workers must also be able to speak English and secure a salary from their sponsor that meats the threshold – £25,600 or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.
Workers who earn less than £25,600 but no less than £20,480 can still apply to work in the UK by ‘trading’ points against their salary – i.e. if the role is in a ‘shortage occupation’ such as certain science roles, engineering jobs, some IT and business jobs, medical roles and veterinarians. You can view the full list here.
EU citizens (except people from Ireland), or people from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, who are living and working in the UK will need to apply to continue living in the UK after December 31, 2020.
Changes to copyright law will come into effect on January 1, 2021. This will be the first change to copyright law in almost two decades.
Its purpose is to give artists, musicians, and publishers a better chance of being paid when their work appears online.
The agreement aims to provide a “balanced” approach that would protect smaller artists without causing a significant impact on the biggest internet platforms such as Google and YouTube.
The bigger platforms will now be legally responsible for the user-generated material they host in the EU.
From January they will have to obtain licenses from rights-holders to show their material.
Content uploaded for the purpose of caricature, parody, or pastiche, including memes and GIFs will be exempt from this.
Return of blue passports
New blue passports will be issued in phases from January 2021. Burgundy passports will still be valid after Brexit until replaced with a blue one.
The government says that all passports issued from mid-2021 are set to be blue.
As of January 2021, you must have at least six months left on your passport and for your passport to be less than 10 years old in order to travel to most EU countries. Travel to Ireland does not apply.
From January, tourists on short trips of under 90 days to the EU will not need a visa to travel.
A visa or permit may be needed for trips longer than 90 days, working, studying, and business travel.
Travelers are advised to check the advice for the country they are traveling to.