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A majority of British voters chose to withdraw the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) in a referendum on 23 June 2016. The EU and the UK concluded a Withdrawal Treaty, which entered into force on 1 February 2020. From then on the United Kingdom is no longer a member state of the EU. Nonetheless, the Withdrawal Treaty started a transition period which lasted until 31 December 2020. During this period, EU rules continued to apply in the relationship between the EU and the UK and the EU and the UK conducted negotiations for a second treaty that should govern the future relations between them beyond 1 January 2021.
Negotiators from the European Commission and the British government reached an agreement on a treaty on 24 December 2020. The new “Trade and Cooperation Treaty” foresees a framework for trade in goods and services, transport, energy, and investments, as well as for police and judicial cooperation, cooperation in social security, public health and cyber security. The UK will still participate in certain cooperation programs of the EU, but for instance not in the well-known Erasmus student exchange program. The Treaty was signed on 30 December 2020 by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel for the EU and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the UK.
This Treaty could not be ratified in time because it was agreed only just before the end of the transition period. This would in principle have led to a short period of a no deal scenario after 1 January. In order to avoid such a drastic change in EU-UK relations on 1 January 2021, both sides agreed to provisionally apply the Treaty. Meanwhile, it has been ratified and officially entered into force on the 1st of May 2021.
In any case, the UK is no longer a member of the European single market and customs union since 1 January 2021. Despite the new Treaty, this will create obstacles to the movement of people, goods, services and capital between the UK and the EU as we know it. Individuals as well as businesses have to adapt to this new reality.
- You are a Belgian company that wishes to inform itself about EU-rules which will are applicable to trade with the United Kingdom since 1 January 2021. You can find useful guidelines for this on the website of the Federal Public Service of Economy. In addition, you can consult specific technical readiness notices from the European Commission (link). These sources explain which concrete changes are applicable and what preparations they require. These sources need to be read in accordance with the new trade and cooperation treaty.
- You are a Belgian company that wishes to inform itself about British rules which are applicable to trade with the EU since 1 January 2021. You can find useful guidelines for this via this link as well as on the website of the British government. These sources need to be read in accordance with the new trade and cooperation treaty.
- You are a foreign company that wishes to inform itself about the procedures, controls, handling, and traffic flows in or to the Belgian seaports that are applicable there since 1 January 2021. You can find a useful overview for this with relevant links.
- You are a Belgian citizen who resided in the United Kingdom before or on 31 December 2020 the latest (link).
- You are a British national or resident who wishes to travel to Belgium for a short period (link). Please take into account the since 1 January 2021 revised travel advice for travel between the UK and the EU on the website of the Belgian Embassy in London (link).
- You are a British national who wishes to reside in Belgium and who seeks information about a stay started on or after 1 January 2021 (link).
- You are a British national who resided in Belgium before or on 31 December 2020 the latest (link).
- You are a Belgian citizen who wishes to study in the United Kingdom or travel there for a short period. Please take into account the since 1 January 2021 revised travel advice for travel between the EU and the United Kingdom (link).
- You are a Belgian citizen who wishes to reside in the United Kingdom and who seeks information about a stay started on or after 1 January 2021 (link).
- You are a British frontier worker (link).
Useful links to other sources of information
All Belgian public services are responsible for providing information on the Brexit-related preparations and management actions they take in their respective areas of competence. With this in mind, an overview of useful links and sources of information can be found below.
Portal of the Chancellery of the Prime Minister
General portal with references to sources of information at Belgian public services
FPS Finances (customs and excises)
Procedures regarding customs and excises
Tel.: 02 575 55 55 (Brexit)
Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain
Sanitary and fytosanitary procedures regarding the transport of animals, plants, products of animal or plant origin, food, and pets
Tel.: 02 211 98 98 (Brexit)
FPS Mobility and Transport
Protocol FPS Foreign Affairs
Questions of British citizens regarding their special international residence statute in Belgium
Emergency number Belgian Embassy in France
Belgian citizens in need in France
Tel.: +33 6 84 53 19 44 (Paris) / +33 6 11 13 02 21 (Marseille)