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EU Adventure Work changes from 1st Jan

01 Jan 2021

Working in adventure across the EU may never be the same following the exit of the UK from the EU. UK citizens planning to work a summer or winter season in an EU country now face new regulations and work permit / visa requirements from 1st January 2021.




Despite the recent trade agreement between the UK and the EU there are now new regulations impacting  the thousands of British outdoor instructors who have for years spent a few months abroad working a ski season or a summer season teaching water sports or adventure activities in an EU country. Once the UK officially leaves the EU on 01/01/21 there will be no more free movement of labour for UK nationals.

There has been some discussion on the possibility that the EU may in the future allow seasonal working visas for UK workers to permit them to work a winter or summer season on some kind of Australian-style "holiday working visa", but nothing has been finalised yet so the new rules apply from 1st January 2021.

From 1st January 2021 a UK citizen will have to apply to work a season through the visa or work permit regulations of the individual country that their job will be located in. Arrangements may be different for each EU country.

You will not need a visa to visit EU countries for up to 90 days as a tourist but you will need a visa or a work permit if you want to work for any duration. You can check each country’s travel advice page on the UK Government Foreign Travel Information page  for information on how to get a visa or permit.

The only exception is in Ireland where, under the Common Travel Agreement (CTA), UK citizens do not need a visa or residency permit to live, work or study in Ireland. Both the UK and Irish governments are committed to protecting the CTA and the UK exit from the EU will not change this.

There is also a new framework relating to the recognition of UK professional outdoor activity qualifications by EU countries. The recently agreed trade agreement between the UK and the EU did not reach agreement on the mutual recognition of professional qualifications despite hopes that this would be the case. 

These changes will make it harder for UK citizens providing any kind of outdoor activity to work in the EU. They will have to apply to individual countries to try to get their qualifications accepted, with no guarantee of success. There is a framework in the deal for the UK and EU to agree on mutually recognising individual qualifications but that is much weaker than the automatic mutual recognition that is currently in place. 

The UK did however agree an important caveat that, in the absence of an EU-wide agreement, Brussels will allow UK bodies to pursue other ways of agreeing the mutual recognition of qualifications on a bilateral basis. For example, a UK-based qualification body or NGB working with its counterpart qualification body in an individual member state may be able to negotiate its own agreement.

The European Commission has also said that recognition decisions made on qualifications obtained in the UK before Brexit are not affected. Alongside these developments the UK has reached agreements on citizens’ rights with the 4 EFTA countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland). These agreements include recognition of professional qualifications.


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