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UK's exit from EU: information for staff

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From 1 January 2021, new rules apply to things like travelling, living or working in Europe and doing business with Europe.

A Brexit Working Group – with representatives from Procurement, HR, Legal, Finance, Research, Student Services, International Study & Language Institute and Global Recruitment & Admissions – is considering the agreement reached between the United Kingdom and European Union in late December to understand its impact on our University’s activities.

Research colleagues looking can find more information on the Research & Enterprises website.

Students can find more on Essentials.

Last updated: 4 March 2021

Latest news for staff

To make it easier to stay up to date, here you will find links to the latest EU news-stories published on the staff portal:

Frequently asked questions

Can EU/EEA staff continue to work at UK universities?

From 1 January 2021, all EU citizens wanting to live and work in the UK will require a visa. A new UK points-based immigration system is being introduced, which includes a new Skilled Worker Visa, to replace the existing Tier 2 visa for non-EU international colleagues. Recruitment procedures and HR web pages are being updated.

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, resident in the UK by 31 December 2020, you and your family members need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK beyond 30 June 2021.

The EU Settlement Scheme allows you and your family members to get the immigration status you need to continue to live, work and study in the UK beyond 30 June 2021. This status means you can continue to be eligible for: public services, such as healthcare and schools, public funds, pensions,  and British citizenship (if you meet the requirements and want to apply).

Should you already have Indefinite Leave to Remain, there is no requirement to apply. However, if you have Permanent Residency you will need to apply for settled status as it is no longer valid after the 31 December 2020.

The scheme is free to apply and applications must be made by 30 June 2021.

EU Settlement scheme - important information

What does a ‘pre-settled’ or ‘settled status’ mean?

You will usually get settled status if you:

  • started living in the UK by 31 December 2020 
  • lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period (known as ‘continuous residence')

Five years' continuous residence means that for 5 years in a row you've been in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 6 months in any 12-month period.

If you do not have 5 years’ continuous residence when you apply, you will usually get pre-settled status. You can then apply to change this to settled status once you reach 5 years’ continuous residence. You may be able to get pre-settled status if you were living in the UK before 31 December 2020, but you were not here on that date. However, you must not have left the UK Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for more than 6 months in any 12 month period.

Settled status will usually be given if you have lived in the UK for a continuous 5-year period (known as ‘continuous residence’).

Five years’ continuous residence means that for 5 years in a row you’ve been in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man for at least 6 months in any 12 month period (with some exceptions). You can stay in the UK as long as you like if you get settled status and if you have settled status, you can spend up to 5 years in a row outside the UK without losing your status.

Apply to the EU Settlement scheme (settled and pre settled status)

If your ability to apply has been affected by Covid-19 to EU Settlement Scheme -  guidance for applicants for details of what can be done.

What will I need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme?

To apply for the EU Settlement Scheme, you will need proof of:

  • your identity
  • your residence in the UK, unless you have a valid permanent residence document, or valid indefinite leave to remain in or enter the UK

When you apply, you can either:

  • scan your document and upload your photo using the ‘EU Exit: ID Document Check’ app for Android
  • send your document in the post and upload your photo using the online application (you can take this yourself)

If you are making an application for settled status and do not have access to an Android phone, our HR Office can help you. Please call ahead on extension 8751 to make an appointment although please note that this may be restricted at the current time due to the COVID restrictions.

Will contractual terms and conditions change for EU nationals working at the University?

The University of Reading does not intend to impose any changes to employment contracts as a result of the UK's exit from the EU. However, employment contracts are subject to the UK government's visa requirements and immigration status, as all employees must have the right to work in the UK.

From 1 January 2021, the recruitment and appointment of an EU citizen to a position at the University will require, subject to specific transitional arrangements, a visa.  A new Skilled Worker Visa has been introduced. For more information, please contact HR.

Can UK university staff still work abroad on University business?

COVID-19 is currently affecting travel within the UK and overseas. Please ensure you review government advice before making any plans to travel.

The Withdrawal Agreement means that there will not be any immediate changes to travel arrangements until at least 31 December 2020. 

New requirements for travelling to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will come into effect from 1 January 2021, with additional changes applying to travel for business, such as attending meetings or conferences. This is all outlined on the Visit Europe after Brexit webpage.

Things you may need to do before you go include:

The new rules do not apply to travel to Ireland.

Full guidance is available on the government's Visit Europe after Brexit webpage.

What documents do I need before travelling to the EU?

You may need to bring additional documentation with you, which may vary depending on the country you intend to travel to. This may include documentation relating to visa status, passport validity, insurance and permission to bring certain goods.  Please check the list above and visit the Visit Europe after Brexit website for full guidance.

Please continue to follow University policy and procedures before travelling as this will ensure we hold the correct information for you. This includes booking travel through our contracted travel providers and completing the overseas travel form well ahead of your travel plans. More information can be found on our Travelling for University Business page. 

Are there any other requirements I need to follow when travelling to the EU?

As well as the actions all travellers need to take, there are extra actions if you're travelling to the EU for business. Business travel includes activities such as travelling for meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity), and touring art or music.

Entry requirements: The country you're travelling to might have its own entry requirements or ask you to have certain documents. 

Check the entry requirements for the country you're visiting


A business will need to check whether they need indemnity insurance for their employees. Full details is available on the government's website.

Professional qualifications

Check your qualifications will be recognised in the EU if you provide services like legal services.

Taking goods into the EU 

Most countries have a limit on the value of goods you can bring in duty free. you think you'll be over the duty free limit, you can usually get an ATA Carnet to avoid paying duty. This includes things like:

  • samples to show at trade fairs or sales meetings
  • publicity materials
  • recorded film and audio
  • equipment you need for work like laptops, cameras or sound equipment
  • goods for educational, scientific or cultural purposes
  • personal effects and sports goods

You will also need a licence if you are moving controlled good including technology, medicine and machinery. Check if your goods are controlled and you need a licence.  If you have any concerns about this please contact Legal Services.

Depending on your residency status, you may have to pay tax in the country you are travelling to work in. So, if you are a UK resident but travelling for work in the EU, you will need to tell HMRC you'll be working in the EU. Also Check whether you'll need to pay social security contributions in the country you're working in. 

Are there other things I should consider when travelling to and from the EU around Brexit?

Although international business is currently curtailed due to COVID-19, colleagues planning any business or personal travel around 31 December 2020, should ensure they consider the additional impact that Brexit may have on their existing plans.

The UK government has issued specific advice for those planning to travel to the EU in the coming months, which you should read carefully, including:

  • Mobile phone tariffs - using your phone in the EU may become more expensive and your operator may not continue to provide free EU roaming. Check with your operator and turn off roaming and data services if you are worried.
  • Bank card charges - the government anticipate that most people will not experience changes to these charges. Further advice is published on the website.
  • Driving in the EU - the documentation required for driving in the EU varies depending on the country you are travelling to. Further information is published on the website.

Will I still be covered by an EHIC from 1 January 2021?

Your UK EHIC continues to be valid in the EU. A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the EU.

If you do not have a card You can get a provisional replacement certificate (PRC) if you need treatment

They will soon be replacing the EHIC with a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) however your EHIC is valid in the EU until it expires. You do not need to apply for a GHIC if you already have an EHIC. Once your EHIC has expired, you’ll be able to replace it with a GHIC.

Beware of unofficial websites, which may charge if you apply through them. An EHIC or GHIC is free of charge.

NHS Website for GHIC Applications:

What to do in case of an emergency whilst traveling to the EU on University business after Brexit?

The University has travel insurance cover for all staff and students travelling on University business.

For emergency medical and travel assistance, please contact the medical assistance company Healix in the first instance so that they can advise you on the next steps based on your circumstances.

They are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week via the App or by phoning +44 (0) 2086 084 100 or

Follow this link to download the app

What should I do if I have a pre-existing condition or am on routine medication?

If you have a pre-existing condition and are on routine medication, please ensure that you take enough supplies for your trip as this will not be covered by the University's insurance cover.

In case of a medical emergency while overseas, please contact the medical assistance company Healix as outlined above. 

Further guidance has been provided on the Visit Europe after Brexit website.

Is there any guidance for UK colleagues on a secondment to an institution in the EU/EEA?

Please get in touch with your Head of School or HR for advice and support. The UK government's Living in the EU: prepare for Brexit provides information for UK nationals living in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland or Ireland about preparing for Brexit if there is no deal.

Providing services to EEA and EFTA countries after Brexit also provides useful advice to UK businesses on service provision if there's a no-deal Brexit after the end of the transition period.

How will Brexit affect transfers of personal data?

UK to countries in the EEA

From 1 January 2021, personal data transfers from the UK to the countries within the EEA, subject to certain safeguards required by law, will be unaffected.

Countries in the EEA to the UK

The EU have agreed that from the 1 January 2021 data transfers between countries in the EEA to the UK can continue as they do now, for a period of 4 months, which may be extended by up to an additional 2 months.

During this 4-6 month extension period, it is understood that the intention that the EU assessments of UK data protection laws will be finalised and an ‘adequacy’ status will be granted. A statement of adequacy will then allow for EEA to UK transfers to continue unrestricted and without the need for additional safeguards as prescribed within law.

Should an assessment of ‘adequacy’ not be given during this period, transfers to the UK will require additional safeguards as defined by EU data protection laws.  This means that additional legal restrictions will apply to personal data being transferred from EEA countries to the UK.   

If the EU does not grant the UK "adequacy" status (meaning it is satisfied about the adequacy of our national data protection provisions) EU standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) are expected to be the principal mechanism used to legitimise transfers of personal data from the EEA to the UK post Brexit.

If you are receiving personal data from the EEA you may be asked to sign SCCs or other documents. If you do, please forward these to straight away. Under no circumstances should you agree to new or varied terms concerning data transfers without seeking legal advice.

IMPS, Legal Services and Procurement will be working together to put in place measures in order to minimised disruption to services and to continue to protect personal data and may need to approach staff for assistance.

If you are procuring new services or software that involve transfers of data from the EEA to the UK please be aware that additional checks and contractual measures may be needed. Please factor this into your project timescales.


For a period of between 4-6 months from 01/01/21, transfers of personal data:

  • from the UK to the EEA will be unaffected.
  • from the EEA to the UK will be unaffected

Should the UK not receive an assessment of adequacy within the 4-6-month period, transfers of data:

  • from the UK to the EEA will be unaffected.
  • from the UK to non-EEA organisations may require additional safeguards.
  • from the EEA to the UK will require additional legal safeguards
  • from the UK to another party in the UK may require additional safeguards if it includes personal data relating to EEA residents/data subjects.

All agreements involving the transfer of personal data will need to be reviewed by IMPS and Legal Services.

The progress of the adequacy assessments will be monitored by IMPS and Legal Services and further updates will be disseminated.

If you require more advice please contact

More information can be found  on this page

Do the EU Procurement Regulations still apply?

The latest EU rules are enshrined into UK law within the Public Contract Regulations 2015. The public procurement regulations will remain unchanged during any implementation period. During the transition period, notices for UK contract opportunities will still be accessed on the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), Tenders Electronic Daily (TED). However, after 31 December 2020, the way businesses access and respond to the UK public sector notices will change. A new UK specific e-Notification Service, Find-a-Tender, will replace OJEU TED and will be ready when the UK leaves the EU. 

What is the University doing with its suppliers to prepare?

Our Procurement colleagues continue to monitor risks to supply chains and to monitor contingency plans. General risks highlighted include

  • disruption to supply across borders including lead time
  • labour shortages
  • additional tariff charges

The University currently utilises over 5,000 suppliers. It is important that schools and functions continue to advise on any critical business areas where there might be concerns over the continuity of supply. Procurement will continue to engage with these suppliers in mitigating any identified risks. If you haven't already been in touch with Procurement, please make contact to find out how they can support you during this transition period.

We are anticipating there will be longer lead times for some goods, so where possible please allow longer times from ordering and when the goods are required.

We continue to receive updates and preparation plans from business-critical suppliers and are communicating with our stakeholders. It is possible that we may need to work with new suppliers, new products and may see challenges in the supply chain and price increases. This is still in progress, but we will continue to monitor the procurement related regulations.

We have also been working over a number of months to put in place contractual terms which will reduce the risk of pricing changes or delivery problems arising from Brexit, particularly in the event of a no deal scenario.

Will Erasmus+ funding be impacted?

No. The government has confirmed that students undertaking study and/or work placements during 2020/21 in countries participating in the Erasmus+ programme will be eligible to receive Erasmus+ funding for the duration of their placement(s), even if they start after 31 December 2020. Standard eligibility requirements remain in place.

If a student plans to start a second placement in a different EU country in the spring term, they must complete their first placement as originally planned, before moving to their second placement. This remains the case, even if it means facing additional administrative requirements to remain in the country of their first placement after 31 December.

Administrative requirements may change depending on the outcome of final negotiations between the UK and EU, but opportunities to study abroad in Europe will remain. We will provide more detailed guidance once the situation becomes clearer. 

You can find more information on the Erasmus+ programme page. 

I am aware of a student having difficulty completing a study or work placement due to Brexit. What happens next?

If a student is unable to complete a placement as planned due to Brexit, either in person or remotely, please contact your school's Study Abroad Coordinator as a matter of urgency. 

Regardless of whether the placement is a compulsory or voluntary, we must work closely with any affected students to identify the best course of action.

If you have any queries about Erasmus+ placements or Study Abroad, please contact our Erasmus & Study Abroad team (also available at and 0118 378 8323). For any queries not related to Erasmus+, please contact the International Student Advisory Team at and 0118 378 8038.

Useful websites

The following websites and documents have most up-to-date information:



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