Brexit information update

Brexit Information Hub Published on Wednesday, 09 September 2020 Parent Category: News Share page with AddThis

The Chartered Institute of Linguist has been researching sources of information on Brexit, ahead of the end of the transition period on 31 December. We hope these will be of help to our members, and other translators and interpreters, who sell their professional services from the UK to the EU, the EEA (EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein), or Switzerland; or vice versa; or who are UK nationals based in an EU/EEA country or Switzerland and working across borders within the EU/EEA/ Switzerland.


1. There is very little information on how services are being handled in negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. The starting point for the negotiations was the Withdrawal Agreement, an international treaty which forms part of UK law.  There is a handful of mentions of services in the Agreement (on VAT refunds, intellectual property and public procurement).  There are also sections on self-employed people, frontier workers and recognition of qualifications:

2. The EU negotiating position for talks on the future relationship, published in February, sets out ambitions for:

 ‘ambitious, comprehensive and balanced provisions on trade in services and investment in services … respecting each Party’s right to regulate. These provisions should aim to deliver a level of liberalisation in trade in services beyond the Parties’ WTO commitments …

In line with Article V of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the envisaged partnership should aim at substantial sectoral coverage, covering all modes of supply and providing for the absence of substantially all discrimination in the covered sectors.’

3. Agendas for the trade talks are published and some of them have included discussion of services. However, the press conferences given at the end of each round of talks have not provided any detail.

General information

1. A recent overview of the coming changes is provided in the European Commission Communication of 9 July 2020 on readiness at the end of the transition period, ‘Getting ready for changes.’

Section B sets out the position on services:

‘As of 1 January 2021, the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services, as provided for by the Union treaties, will no longer benefit individuals and businesses from the United Kingdom operating in the European Union or EU individuals and businesses operating in the United Kingdom …

In order to access the Union market, UK service providers and professionals established in the United Kingdom will need to demonstrate compliance with any rules, procedures and/or authorisations that condition the provision of services in the European Union by foreign nationals and/or companies established outside the Union. Those requirements might be set out in Union law or, more frequently, in national regimes, but will be conditioned by the commitments taken by the European Union under the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Trade in Services, and also within the future relationship agreement with the United Kingdom.’

 2. The UK government is holding a webinar on 13 October for services and investment businesses on the actions to take to prepare for the new rules from January 2021:

The website has guidance on selling services to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein from 1 January 2021 (last updated October 2019) has headings on:

  • Trade regulations
  • VAT on sales of digital services
  • Establishing and structuring your business
  • Business travel and entry requirements
  • Social security payments for employees
  • Recognition of professional qualifications
  • Data transfer and GDPR

It advises that UK businesses and services will need to check the national regulations of the relevant country:

There is also a checklist which aims to provide more targeted information (depending on whether you are a UK citizen, where you are based, and the type of business):

3. British in Europe have been keeping in close touch with developments on Brexit and have published a number of useful guides to the Withdrawal Agreement, all of which have been reviewed by lawyers:

4. The Association of Translation Companies has a Brexit round up:

Key issues for translators and interpreters

a. Recognition of qualifications

British in Europe’s Guide no 4 to the Withdrawal Agreement covers working, professional rights and qualifications for UK nationals in EU countries:

Translation and interpretation are regulated professions in some countries. UK nationals will need to apply for their qualification to be recognised before the end of the transition period to continue to deliver services to these countries.

b. Data Protection

The UK government has stated that the GDPR will continue to be part of UK law and the UK is seeking an ‘adequacy decision’ from the EU to allow transfers of personal data to continue under the present rules. Meanwhile, the UK Information Commissioner recommends the use of standard contract clauses to allow personal data to be transferred to and from the UK after 31 December.

c. Travel for work

The UK government website advises that all travellers need to check passports, obtain health insurance and check that they have the right driving documents. There is additional advice for business travellers.

​With thanks to CIOL members Jo Durning, Emma Gledhill and Zoe Adams Green for researching and compiling this information.

5. Government updates

Please note: This article doesn’t constitute formal advice and everyone should take professional advice on their own situation.

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