British Virgin Islands

Sunday, May 09, 2021

It’s now official! No more free trade, travel for BVI as Brexit takes effect

It’s now official! No more free trade, travel for BVI as Brexit takes effect

As of January 1, 2021, the UK officially transitioned from the European Union (EU), a move which has snatched away a number of benefits that the BVI previously enjoyed under that economic bloc.

According to a statement from Premier Andrew Fahie, three of the main areas in which the BVI will see change are travel, trade, and access to EU funding.

This article will discuss the implications for trade and travel while a subsequent article will outline the implications for EU funding.

Freedom of Movement will end

Premier Fahie said British Citizens will no longer retain the right to move freely across the European Member States.

But holders of British Passports and British Overseas Territories (BOTC) passports travelling as tourists will now have visa-free travel for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, while travelling within the Schengen Area.

The Schengen Area covers most of the EU countries, except Ireland. However, it also includes countries such as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein.

Persons planning longer stays for work, to study, or to conduct business in the EU, are advised to check the requirements as they will be subjected to the immigration controls of each individual EU Member State.

BVIslanders should note that persons should be prepared to answer questions regarding the reasons for their visit and their financial capacity to sustain themselves while in Europe. In this regard, British Citizens will now be required to meet the entry requirements set out by each individual country.

Persons travelling for work, secondment, or to study, may now be required to obtain a work permit or student visa for that country.

Holders of the burgundy UK passports with the words ‘European Union’ on the cover, are advised that these passports will continue to be valid until the stated expiration date, and will be replaced with dark blue British Passport when submitted for renewal.


From January 1, 2021, the Overseas Territories will no longer enjoy tariff-free and quota-free access when exporting goods to the EU Market.

The new UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement provide for tariff-free and quota-free trade in goods, between the UK and the EU.

But Overseas Territories are not included in this arrangement, with the exception of Tristan Da Cunha for the export of Lobster into the EU market.

As the BVI and other Overseas Territories had non–reciprocal access to the EU market, goods imported from the EU will not be affected.

Financial services not affected

The new UK-EU Trade and Cooperation agreement does not cover Trade in Services, including Financial Services, which will be addressed in a subsequent agreement at a later date.

As the EU conducts trade with the BVI as a third country, the BVI’s trade-in services with the EU will not be affected by the new arrangement.


The United Kingdom voted to leave the EU in June 2016 by a referendum.

The country officially left the EU on January 31, 2020, and entered into a transition period while they negotiated the terms of the future relationship.

That transition period officially ended on December 31, 2020, thus BVI and other OTs will start to see changes in their relationship with EU countries.

The UK leaving the EU has been termed ‘Brexit’, which was abbreviated from the term ‘British Exit’.


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