On January 31st 2020 the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland officially left the European Union and began the implementation period.

Excessive and vague coverage of the Brexit process has led many to worry that everything will change and their lives will suddenly be turned upside down. Meanwhile others in support of Brexit are claiming that ‘project fear‘ has failed, the UK has left the EU and nothing bad has happened.

Of course what many outlets forget to highlight is that the UK has not severed all ties with the EU just yet, January 31st 2020 did not mark Brexit in the manner many are framing it to be but instead marked the beginning of the implementation period.

This will continue until December 31st 2020, with the option for the UK government to extend this period by up to two years. During this time most things will remain the same, below we have highlighted how it may affect you.

What is the Implementation period?

During the implementation period EU rules and regulations will continue to affect the UK, this will ensure continuity for businesses and citizens affected by Britain leaving the EU. This delayed exit will allow the UK to convert any existing EU laws they wish to keep into domestic law.

The ‘implementation period’ can be extended by up to two years extending it as far as December 31st 2022. However, it is not likely that the UK government will extend the implementation period as it has been prohibited by the Withdrawal agreement passed by parliament. 


How will it affect me?

If you are an EU citizen

EU citizens will retain the same rights in the UK as they did before January 31st, after December 31st, if the transition period is not extended, they will need to apply to the EU settlement scheme.


What is the EU settlement scheme (EUSS)?

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens can apply to the EU settlement scheme to continue living in the UK. The deadline to apply is currently June 30th 2021. If you are approved you will receive settled or pre-settled status.


What is settled and pre-settled status?

Settled status entitles you to remain in the UK as long as you like, and to apply for British citizenship if you are eligible. 

Pre-settled status is for anyone who has not lived in the UK continuously for the majority of the last five years, it entitles you to apply for settled status after you reach the 5 year residency threshold.


If you are an Irish or Commonwealth citizen

Irish and Commonwealth citizens are present in the UK under rules which predate the formation of the EU and are therefore not likely to see changes to their status living and working in the UK even after the end of the implementation period.


If you are an EU student

Your rights to live in the UK will not change until 31st December 2020, you will be able to apply for the EUSS. You will be able to access help from student finance England if your course starts in the 2020/2021 academic year for the duration of your course


What happens on December 31st?

Unless the UK government has decided to extend the period, any EU laws that have not been converted into domestic law will no longer be in effect. Any laws that have been converted to domestic law will remain.