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Brexit: What you can do on business trips to the EU without a visa

Brexit: What you can do on business trips to the EU without a visa
Dan Martin
Dan Martin
Freelance content creator & event host
Dan Martin Content & Events
 

Posted: Mon 24th May 2021

The government has released new guidance which clarifies what activities British citizens travelling for business can do in certain EU countries without needing a visa or work permit.

This guide is a summary of the permitted activities but you are advised to read the full guidance and check with the local authorities in the country you're visiting before you travel to ensure you meet all legal requirements.

Visa waiver for business travel in EU and Schengen area

If you are a British citizen and you take a trip for certain business reasons in the Schengen area, you can travel visa free for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. The Schengen area is:

  • Most EU countries (not Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania or Ireland)

  • Switzerland

  • Norway

  • Iceland

  • Liechtenstein

If you travel from one of these countries to another or visit more than one within a 180 day-period, it all counts towards the 90-day limit.

The 90-day rule applies in Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus but not as a group.

Each country applies its own rules for what business activities are covered by the visa waiver. The activities classed as 'work' and requiring a visa or permit vary depending on the country. You must check with the authorities of the country you want to visit before you travel to ensure you meet the legal requirements. The country's embassy or consulate will be able to let you know if you need a visa, work permit or residence permit.

You do not need a visa for work and business travel in Ireland.

If you're not a British citizen check if you need a Schengen visa.

Find out how to apply if you need a visa.

Business activities permitted in the EU and Schengen area without a visa

The government has published new guides for certain countries which outline business activities covered by the visa waiver. There's a summary below. As more country guides are published, we will update this page.

Belgium

You do not need a permit or visa if you're travelling for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • running or attending job interviews

  • attending trade fairs or seminar conventions

  • board meetings

  • meeting clients or customers

  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers

  • negotiating, signing and executing deals or contracts

  • touring a company facility

  • receiving goods supplied and manufactured by a Belgian company

  • attending, speaking or presenting at a conference (paid or unpaid)

  • team building activities

The following types of training if it's for the same company or group:

  • receiving classroom-based training

  • receiving on-the-job training

  • shadowing someone's job

The following types of work activities are also covered by the visa waiver in Belgium:

  • attending closed circle meetings (including customer negotiations, staff evaluations and company strategy meetings) for a maximum of 20 consecutive days at a time and 60 days a year

  • after-sales service work (urgent maintenance or repair) for up to five calendar days in a month

  • installing software for up to eight calendar days a month

  • prototype testing for up to four weeks in a calendar year

  • installing or assembling first or initial systems or products for up to eight days (doesn't apply to those in the construction industry)

  • self-employed workers staying in Belgium for business purposes for up to five days a month

  • athletes, referees, support staff, official representatives, staff members, and any others recognised by the international or national sporting federations, travelling to Belgium for an international sports competition - allowed only for the duration of the competition and for a maximum of three months in a calendar year

  • artists with an international reputation and their support staff, for a performance for up to 21 days per quarter

  • international transport sector workers (transporting passengers or goods)

  • staff at international institutions - only if the institution's status is governed by a ratified international treaty

  • public administration staff and diplomats

The full guide for business travel in Belgium is here.

Cyprus

Cyprus isn’t in the Schengen area. The Schengen area countries apply the 90 day visa-waiver as a group. This means if you visit one or more of the Schengen area countries within a 180 day-period, it all counts towards the Schengen 90-day limit.

Cyprus applies a separate 90-day limit. It doesn’t apply the 90 days as a group with the Schengen area countries.

This means you can spend up to 90 days in a 180-day period in other European countries and it won’t affect how long you can spend in Cyprus. You’ll still be able to stay in Cyprus visa-free for up to 90 days in a 180-day period.

You don’t need a visa or permit if you’re travelling to Cyprus for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • attending seminars or conventions or trade fairs

  • attending and speaking at conferences

  • running or attending job interviews

  • negotiating, signing or executing deals or contracts

  • meeting with clients, customers or colleagues

  • meeting with contractors or vendor

  • providing and receiving classroom-based or on the job-training

  • shadowing someone’s job

  • providing legal advice to a client

  • internal auditing

  • fact-finding visits

  • attending kick-off meetings

  • installing or upgrading software, machinery or hardware

  • testing related to product delivery, IT acceptance testing and troubleshooting and software upgrades

  • attending board meetings

The full guide for business travel in Cyprus is here.

Czech Republic

You do not need a visa or permit if you’re travelling to the Czech Republic for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • running or attending job interviews

  • meeting with recruitment and talent agencies

  • acquisitions, such as due diligence prior to purchase, or pre-closing activities

  • attending court as a witness

  • attending a trade fair or seminar convention

  • attending a board meeting

  • attending a workshop

  • attending, speaking or presenting at a conference (unpaid)

  • meeting a client, customer or colleague

  • attending a meeting with a contractor or vendor (including entertainment like eating at a restaurant)

  • fact-finding visits

  • touring a company facility

  • negotiating deals or contracts

  • team-building activities

  • receiving classroom-based training for the same group or company

The full guide for business travel in the Czech Republic is here.

Denmark

You do not need a visa or permit if you’re travelling to Denmark for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • meeting clients or customers (including entertainment like eating at a restaurant)

  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers

  • giving or receiving training

  • negotiating deals or contracts

The full guide to business travel in Denmark is here.

France

You do not need a permit or visa if you're travelling for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • running or attending job interviews

  • going to court as a witness

  • attending trade fairs

  • board meetings

  • meeting clients or customers (including entertainment such as eating at a restaurant)

  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers

  • carrying out fact-finding visits

  • negotiating, signing and executing deals or contracts

  • attending, speaking or presenting at a conference if you're not being paid

  • team building activities

The following types of training if it's for the same company or group:

  • classroom-based training

  • on-the-job training

  • shadowing someone's job

The following types of work activities are also covered by the visa waiver in France if they are less than 90 days:

  • artists and their technical production team for film, audio-visual content and shows

  • fashion and art models

  • personal and domestic service workers for an employer who is a private individual permanently based in the UK but staying in France

  • auditors and other experts in architecture, engineering, finance, insurance, IT and management working on assignment

  • guest professors carrying out occasional teaching

  • taking part in sporting, cultural, artistic and scientific events

  • taking part in conferences, seminars, and trade exhibitions

  • those with an EU intra-company transfer (EU ICT) from another country - your employer has to notify the prefecture of where you'll be working

The full guide for business travel in France is here.

Germany

You do not need a permit or visa if you're travelling for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • running or attending job interviews

  • going to court as a witness

  • attending trade fairsboard meetings

  • meeting clients or customers, including entertainment such as eating at a restaurant

  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers

  • fact-finding visits

  • negotiating deals or contracts

  • attending, speaking or presenting at a conference, as long as you're not being paid

  • team building activities

The following types of training if it's for the same company or group:

  • classroom-based training

  • on-the-job training

  • shadowing someone's job

The following types of work activities are also covered by the visa waiver in Germany if they are for less than 90 days in a 12 month period:

  • academic staff, such as scientists, technicians, engineers or language teachers working at research or higher education institutions (doesn't include researchers at accredited research institutions)

  • teachers working at state or approved private schools

  • internships, if you meet legal requirements - check these with the German authorities

  • journalists employed in the UK

  • fashion models

  • domestic helpers who travel to Germany with their employer or their employer's family

  • installing software or machinery, or completing technical maintenance, repairs and training - your employer must submit a notification to the German Federal Employment Agency before you start working

  • travel guides who accompany tourist groups to Germany - you must keep your regular place of residence in the UK

  • translators who need to take part in meetings and discussions in Germany - you must keep your regular place of residence in the UK

  • international rail and road traffic industry workers - including drivers who collect and unload deliveries, bus or coach drivers, train operators, train service staff and attendants

  • professional drivers - you must be able to show you have the correct driving qualifications and get approval first from the authorities

  • sea and air transportation workers, such as international ship crew, sea pilots, technical staff, passenger service staff and plane crew - pilots, engineers and navigators employed by German companies will need a work permit

  • speaking or performing in science, the arts, entertainment or sports of special interest (performers and their assistants - you must keep your regular place of residence in the UK - you may be able to get approval to stay longer than 90 days

  • working in special cultural or musical events, or in the film and television industry - you may be able to get approval to stay longer than 90 days

  • working in a recognised voluntary position or carrying out charitable or religious work

The full guide for business travel in Germany is here.

Italy

You do not need a permit or visa if you're travelling for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • running or attending job interviews

  • going to court as a witness

  • attending trade fairsboard meetings

  • meeting clients or customers (including entertainment like eating at a restaurant)

  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers

  • fact-finding visits

  • negotiating, signing and executing deals or contracts

  • attending, speaking or presenting at a conference if you aren't being paid

  • team building activities

  • installing, upgrading and troubleshooting software or machinery where there's an after-sales contract in place

  • taking part in technical training

  • consulting

  • completing an after-sales service

The following types of training if it's for the same company or group:

  • receiving and providing classroom-based training

  • shadowing someone's job

The full guide for business travel in Italy is here.

The Netherlands

You don't need a visa or permit for the following activities if their combined duration is no more than 13 weeks in a 52-week period:

  • attending job interviews

  • attending trade fairs

  • board meetings

  • business meetings with clients or customers (including entertainment such as eating at a restaurant)

  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers of products or services you are reviewing or fact-finding

  • negotiating, signing or executing deals or contracts

  • team building activities to get to know the company's culture

  • attending, speaking or presenting at a conference if you're not being paid

You don't need a visa or permit for the following activities if they're for no more than 12 consecutive weeks in a 36-week period:

  • receiving classroom-based training in the same company or company group, or in a clear training environment

  • assembling or repairing hardware, machinery, or equipment on site, as long as the UK employer delivered the hardware to the customer

  • installing, implementing or adjusting software, as long as the UK employer delivered the software to the customer

  • providing end-user training for operating hardware or software, as long as the UK employer delivered the hardware or software

  • receiving training or instructions on how to use goods manufactured in the Netherlands, or services to be performed in the Netherlands

The following do not require a visa or permit in the Netherlands:

The full guide for business travel in the Netherlands is here.

Spain

You do not need a permit or visa if you're travelling for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • attending business meetings or discussions

  • attending seminars or fact-finding meetings

  • attending conferences and workshops

  • attending trade shows

  • meeting clients or customers (including entertainment like eating at a restaurant)

  • receiving classroom-based training

You must not receive any payment for these activities from a Spanish company or it could be classed as work.

The following do also not require a visa or permit in Spain if they're for up to 90 days in a 180-day period:

  • technicians, researchers, and scientists invited or employed by the Spanish public administrations, autonomous communities, universities, local entities, or organisations that promote and develop research

  • specialised technicians, faculty members, researchers and scientists employed by a Spanish university

  • civil servants or military officials of foreign (non-Spanish) governments participating in activities under a bilateral cooperation agreement

  • representatives or board members of internationally recognised business organisations or unions

  • managerial, teaching or research staff from cultural or educational institutions - private or state-owned, with a renowned reputation, officially recognised by Spain - who will carry out cultural or educational programmes from the UK
    correspondents from non-Spanish media carrying out journalistic activity in Spain - accredited by the Spanish authorities as correspondents or special correspondents

  • authorised members of international scientific missions engaging in studies or research activities set by an International organisation or agency

  • religious ministers and members of the church, faiths and religious communities, and professed members of religious orders

  • members of the representative, governing and administrative bodies of internationally recognised trade unions and business organisations

  • those with an EU-intra company transfer (EU ICT) from another country - your employer needs to notify the immigration authorities

Artists performing in Spain for up to five consecutive days, or 20 performance days within a six month period, who are not intending to stay longer than 90 days in total also do not require a visa or permit.

The full guide for business travel in Spain is here.

Sweden

You don't need a visa or permit if you're travelling for up to 90 days within 180 days for:

  • running or attending job interviews

  • going to court as a witness

  • attending trade fairs

  • meeting clients or customers (including entertainment like eating at a restaurant)

  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers

  • fact-finding visits

  • negotiating, signing and executing deals or contracts in certain situations

  • attending, speaking or presenting at a conference if you're not being paid

  • team building activities

The following types of training if it's for the same company or group:

  • receiving classroom-based training

  • receiving on-the-job training

  • shadowing someone's job

The following also do not require a visa:

  • emergency repairs or installation activities, including technical fitters and instructors - for up to two months

  • participating in training, testing, preparation or completion of deliveries, or similar activities as a business transaction - for up to three months in a 12-month period

  • specialists working temporarily for an international corporation for less than 90 days

  • consular officials or diplomats and their families and staff - this generally applies to the current mission only

  • temporary TV or radio workers for Nordisk Television AB (TV4-gruppen/TV4 AB), Sveriges Utbildningsradio AB, Sveriges Radio AB or Sveriges Television AB - for up to one month

  • artists for film, audio-visual content and shows and their technical production team - so long as the performer has been invited by an established arranger from the Swedish Migration Agency - for up to 14 business days over 12 months

  • professional athletes and functionaries taking part in international competitions - for up to three months over 12 months

  • railway personnel and international commercial traffic lorry drivers employed outside of Sweden

  • temporary employees working for a company that doesn't have a branch or office in Sweden, such as journalists or salespeople

  • caregivers working for an employer who is visiting Sweden for medical treatment - for up to 3 months

  • professors and researchers invited to teach, research or hold lectures at higher education institutions - for up to three months in a 12-month period

  • claimants (plaintiffs) or witnesses in a criminal investigation who obtained a residence permit as a result of that

  • volunteers giving aid support for a disaster or accident in Sweden - for the period of deployment

  • drivers and travel guides who accompany tourist groups to Sweden - for up to three months

  • those with a residence permit for higher education studies in Sweden

  • those with an EU-intra company transfer permit (EU ICT) from another country - for 90 days in a 180-day period

  • sole traders working for Swedish clients on contracts - for a maximum of 90 days or the amount of available Schengen days they have (conditions apply so check with the authorities)

The full guide for business travel in Sweden is here.

Austria

You don't need a visa or permit if you're travelling to Austria for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • running or attending job interviews

  • going to court as a witness

  • attending trade fairs for no longer than 7 days a month or 30 days in a calendar year

  • attending board meetings

  • meeting clients or customers (including entertainment like eating at a restaurant)

  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers

  • fact-finding visits

  • negotiating deals or contracts

  • attending conferences

  • team building activities

  • buying goods and services

  • accompanying a tour as a tour guide, tour operator or travel agent

  • leisure travel, such as holidays or visiting friends or family Or for these types of training, as long as it's for the same company or group:

  • classroom-based training

  • on-the-job training

Attending business meetings in Austria

You should only attend business meetings if there isn't a colleague in Austria who can do this on your behalf. If you have to attend you:

  • shouldn't stay longer than a working week

  • can't charge the client for the meeting

The full guide for business travel in Austria is here.

Hungary

You don't need a visa or permit if you're travelling to Hungary for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • attending business and sale meetings

  • buying goods for sale outside the country

  • running or attending job interviews

  • meeting with recruitment agencies and talent

  • acquisition trips, such as buying business operations, carrying out due diligence prior to purchase and pre-closing activities)

  • attending court as a witness

  • attending a trade fair, seminar convention or workshop

  • attending board meetings

  • team building activities

  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers

  • meeting clients or customers (including entertainment like eating at a restaurant)

  • fact-finding visits

  • touring a company facility

  • negotiating, signing and executing deals or contracts

  • attending, speaking or presenting at a conference (paid or unpaid)

Or for the following types of training if it's for the same company or group:

  • classroom-based training

  • on-the-job training

  • shadowing someone's job

The full guide for business travel in Hungary is here.

Norway

You don't need a visa or permit if you're travelling to Norway for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • running job interviews

  • going to court as a witness

  • attending seminars, conventions or trade fairs

  • meeting clients or customers (including entertainment like eating at a restaurant)

  • negotiating, signing and executing deals or contracts

  • carrying out testing related to product delivery, such as IT acceptance testing

The full guide for business travel in Norway is here.

Switzerland

You don't need a visa or permit if you're travelling for up to 90 days in a 180-day period for:

  • running or attending job interviews

  • going to court as a witness

  • attending trade fairs or conferences (but not presenting)

  • meeting clients or customers (including entertainment like eating at a restaurant)

  • meeting colleagues, contractors or sellers

  • fact-finding visits

  • negotiating, signing and executing deals or contracts

  • touring a company facility

You may not need to go through Switzerland's full work permit application process if you're a:

  • service provider, such as a management consultant, IT expert or engineer

  • professional athlete participating in an international sports tournament

  • stage artist in music, literature or performance

The full guide for business travel in Switzerland is here.

**_Do you have concerns or questions about doing business in the EU as a service provider? Email Dan.

Get more advice and insights on how small businesses and the self-employed can trade with the EU via Enterprise Nation's Brexit Advice Service._**

 
Dan Martin
Dan Martin
Freelance content creator & event host
Dan Martin Content & Events
 
I'm a freelance content creator and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I have 18 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from billionaires like Sir Richard Branson to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community and have strong connections to major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 50 events; from intimate meet-ups to conferences with an audience of hundreds including events for international brands like Facebook and Xero. I'm also a big fan of podcasts having hosted Enterprise Nation's Small Business Sessions as well as lots of online events including Facebook Live interviews, webinars and three live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography. I'm here to help. I'm volunteering free advice calls of up to an hour as part of the Recovery Advice for Business scheme, over the next 6 months. Please get in touch to see how I can help your business. 
 

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