Travelling to Europe? This is what business travellers need to know

August 6, 2021

While the Coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt business travel around the world, there is still confusion as to how Brexit affects business travel in and around Europe.

If you are travelling to the European Union for business, here are the key rules you need to know about.

Are British passports valid in the EU?

Following the end of the transition period, British passport holders are now considered “third country nationals”.

This means that there are rules around how long you can stay in Europe and passport expiration dates.

According to the EU, non-EU nationals seeking to visit or travel within the EU will need a passport that is both:

  • valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you are visiting; and
  • was issued within the previous 10 years.

These rules do not apply to trips to Ireland, but some airports may still require you to carry a passport as a form of identification.

The 10-year expiry rule

Before 2018, “unspent” time on British passports would be added to new passports when they were renewed. This means passports could be valid for up to 10 years and nine months.

The EU, however, does not recognise unspent time and will only consider the initial 10-year expiry time. Travellers should, therefore, ensure that their passports meet the three-month rule, even if their passports are valid for an additional nine months.

Do I need a visa to travel to the EU?

British nationals can spend up to 90 days in the EU in any six-month period without a visa. If you intend to stay for longer, you will need to apply for a visa from the appropriate EU embassy or consulate.

The full list of embassies and consulates can be found here.

What business activities can be carried out in Europe without a visa?

A wide range of business activities can be carried out while on a short-term trip to Europe. This includes meetings, consultations, attending and speaking at conferences, market research, classroom-based training, taking orders and negotiating sales, purchasing goods for a business, and translation and interpretation services, among others.

What business activities cannot be carried out without a visa?

As a visitor you are not permitted to work, service contacts between the UK and the EU, deliver goods or supply services yourself, or sell goods or services directly to the public.

Hands-on training and selling at trade fairs and exhibitions are also not permitted.

Further reading

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