Brexit: Can UK expats return to Belgium after 1 January?
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Brexit: Can UK expats return to Belgium after 1 January?

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Brits working in Belgium who are travelling to the United Kingdom for the Christmas holidays can rest assured that they will still be able to return after 1 January, regardless of the coronavirus ban on non-essential travel as a result of Brexit.

Once the transition period for Brexit ends, the UK will be treated as a third country by the European Union from 2021, meaning that non-essential travel will be banned from 1 January, under the current coronavirus rules.

As work is considered an essential reason to travel, Brits working in Belgium who – against official advice – decided to travel to the UK for the end-of-year festivities, will still be able to return after the new year “without any issues.”

There will be border controls, but their old residence cards will still be valid, according to the cabinet of Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Sammy Mahdi.

“However, Brits working in Belgium will still have to apply for a new residence card for after Brexit as well,” Sofie Demeyer, spokesperson for the Interior Affairs Department, told The Brussels Times.

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All people of British nationality already living in Belgium recently received or will soon receive an official letter informing them of exactly what they need to do, according to Demeyer.

Belgian citizens or people with a Belgian residence permit, however, can always return to Belgium, even if the reason for their journey out of the country was a non-essential one.

However, once they have returned, they will have to respect the rules that all travellers returning from a red zone need to follow, and quarantine for the mandatory ten days, the Foreign Affairs Department stated.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times