Brexit is Here. Now What?

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London Tower Bridge

The United Kingdom officially leaves the European Union on January 31. What do U.S. meeting and incentive organizers with international programs on the horizon need to know about Brexit?

The good news is that little is changing during the Brexit transition period, which extends to the end of 2020, during which time the complex and wide-ranging terms of the separation will be negotiated.

“We believe that because of the excellent planning that the industry and others have put in to preparing for this event, there should be relatively little disruption,” said Rachel Levy, business development associate, North America, business tourism. London & Partners, the city’s international trade, investment and promotion agency.

She said the agency is providing useful, up-to-date travel and transport information through its website, social media, and an advice service that will operate up to a week after the UK’s formal exit from the EU. The service can be reached at [email protected] or by calling +44 (0) 20 3666 5681 or +44 (0) 20 3666 5684.

Some key points to keep in mind:

Passports and visas: Americans traveling to Britain currently do not need visas and that is not expected to change after Brexit details are worked out. After January 2021, as part of a new EU security system intended to screen visa-free travelers, U.S travelers to the EU will be required to register with the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). British citizens and people from other countries will also need to apply. To get authorization, travelers register online and pay a small fee. The new ETIAS requirement coincides with Brexit but is not related.

Air Travel: Flights between the United States and Britain have operated for years under an open-skies agreement, which allows airlines from those two places access to each other’s markets. Ahead of its separation from the EU, Britain has set up bilateral open-skies agreements with the United States, among other countries. The agreement will allow airlines to continue flying between the United States and Britain after Brexit.

“From the U.S. market, there will be no difference for delegates traveling to London, and in fact with the new e-gates now available for U.S. and Canadian visitors, it’s actually easier and quicker to enter the UK,” said Tracy Halliwell, MBE, director of tourism, conventions and major events, London & Partners. “With regard to the number of meetings, we are currently not seeing an fall in the amount of business coming into London from the U.S. In fact, due to the advantageous exchange rate, there has actually been an upturn in business over the last year, and we don’t see any reason for this to reduce moving forward. The UK, and specifically London, are still key commercial markets.”

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