News article

Brexit: Employer guidance on professional qualifications

2 October 2019


Guidance for UK businesses on the recognition of professional qualifications if the UK leaves the EU without a deal

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the requirements for how professional qualifications will be recognised and services will be regulated will change.

Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications
There will be no system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications between the EEA states, Switzerland and the UK. These changes will affect:

  • holders of EEA and Swiss qualifications wishing to work in the UK, including UK nationals
  • EEA and Swiss nationals with any non-UK qualification wishing to work in the UK
  • UK nationals wishing to provide professional services in the EEA or Switzerland

Recognition of professional qualifications in the UK
There will be a new UK recognition system after Brexit.

For EEA, Swiss and UK nationals who applied for recognition of a non-UK qualification under the pre-Brexit rules:

  • decisions made before Brexit day will remain valid
  • as far as is possible, applications made before Brexit day but not concluded by that date will be completed as though the pre-Brexit rules applied
  • applications for a recognition decision after Brexit day will be subject to the new system of recognition
  • for any questions on how your application will be processed please contact the relevant regulator

The new system of recognition of professional qualifications will:

  • require UK regulators to recognise EEA and Swiss qualifications which are of an equivalent standard to UK qualifications
  • no longer include certain obligations on UK regulators, such as offering compensation measures and partial access in circumstances where EEA/Swiss qualifications are not of an
  • equivalent standard to UK qualifications
  • no obligation on UK regulators to make provisions for the temporary and occasional provision of services

These arrangements are without prejudice to the rights and privileges accorded, by virtue of the Common Travel Area, to Irish and UK citizens when in each other’s state.

UK nationals and/or holders of UK qualifications seeking recognition to work in regulated professions in the EU
The European Commission has said that recognition decisions made on qualifications obtained in the UK before Brexit are not affected. See the Commission guidance on regulated professions and recognition of professional qualifications.

After Brexit, UK nationals, and EU nationals with UK qualifications, will no longer be able to rely on EU law on the recognition of professional qualifications. For recognition decisions that will be made post-Brexit, for both permanent establishment and temporary work purposes, UK nationals should check the host country’s policies.

You can find out more in the selling services country guides.

Swiss, EEA EFTA and UK nationals
The UK has reached agreements on citizens’ rights with the 4 EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) which will apply if there’s a no-deal Brexit. These agreements include recognition of professional qualifications held by these countries’ nationals and UK nationals:

Providing legal services
From the date the UK leaves the EU, EEA-qualified lawyers will be treated as third-country lawyers in England and Wales unless they have already been admitted to a UK legal profession.

These changes will affect:

  • EEA lawyers, including Registered European Lawyers
  • employers of Registered European Lawyers and other EEA lawyers
  • EEA lawyers who own or manage legal businesses in England/Wales or Northern Ireland Implications

See the guidance for: