News article

Brexit: Providing services to EEA and EFTA countries after EU Exit

2 October 2019


Guidance for UK businesses on EU service provision if the UK leaves the EU with no deal

If the UK leaves the EU with no deal, the UK will no longer operate under the European Economic Area (EEA) regulations for  the cross-border trade in services.

This means that the rights and protections provided by the EU Directives and EU Treaty rights of Freedom of Movement and Freedom of Establishment will no longer apply to the UK.

UK businesses will no longer be treated as if they were local businesses, and UK businesses and professionals providing services in the EEA will be regarded as originating from a ‘third country’.

UK firms and service providers may face additional legal, regulatory and administrative barriers as a result.

Cross border trade regulations

If you’re a UK business or professional providing services in the EEA, you’ll need to check the national regulations to understand how best to operate.

Establishing and structuring your business

If you have a UK business, you might face restrictions on your ability to own, manage or direct a company registered in an EEA country or Switzerland after a no-deal Brexit.

You should be prepared for:

  • additional requirements on the nationality or residency of senior managers or directors
  • limits on the amount of equity that can be held by non-nationals

UK companies and limited liability partnerships that have their central administration or principal place of business in certain EU member states may no longer have their limited liability recognised.

Business travel and visa requirements

If you’re a UK national, you’ll need to check whether you need a visa and/or work/residence permit if you’re:

  • providing services to an EEA country
  • on a placement based in the EEA

You should comply with the immigration controls in the country where your service is being provided.

Recognition of professional qualifications

If you’re seeking recognition of a UK qualification in an EU member state, you’ll need to check:

  • the European Commission’s guidance
  • each individual member state’s rules for work on a permanent, temporary and occasional basis

EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland)

The UK has reached agreements on citizen’s rights with the 4 EFTA countries, which will apply if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. Included in these agreements are specific arrangements for the recognition of professional qualifications held by these countries’ nationals and UK nationals:

  • the EEA EFTA No Deal Citizens’ Rights Agreement covers Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway
  • the Swiss Citizens’ Rights Agreement covers Switzerland

Data protection

UK businesses will need to continue to comply with data protection laws if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

To ensure continued compliance you may need to make changes if your business:

  • operates across the EU and/or the EEA
  • exchanges personal data with partners in the EU and/or the EEA

Read more about data transfer and GDPR.

Country guides

Read the relevant country guide to find out about the potential legal, regulatory and administrative changes for UK firms and service providers, if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Austria: providing services after EU Exit

Belgium: providing services after EU exit

Bulgaria: providing services after EU exit

Croatia: providing services after EU exit

Cyprus: providing services after EU Exit

Czech Republic: providing services after EU exit

Denmark: providing services after EU Exit

Estonia: providing services after EU exit

Finland: providing services after EU Exit

France: providing services after EU Exit

Germany: providing services after EU Exit

Greece: providing services after EU Exit

Hungary: providing services after EU Exit

Iceland: providing services after EU exit

Ireland: providing services after EU exit

Italy: providing services after EU exit

Latvia: providing services after EU exit

Liechtenstein: providing services after EU exit

Lithuania: providing services after EU exit

Luxembourg: providing services after EU exit

Malta: providing services after EU Exit

The Netherlands: providing services after EU Exit

Norway: providing services after EU exit

Poland: providing services after EU Exit

Portugal: providing services after EU Exit

Romania: providing services after EU exit

Slovakia: providing services after EU Exit

Slovenia: providing services after EU exit

Spain: providing services after EU Exit

Sweden: providing services after EU Exit

Switzerland: providing services after EU exit