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The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement concluded between the EU and the UK sets out preferential arrangements in many areas, also pertaining to travel and rights to work during short visits.

As non-EU citizens after Brexit, UK nationals require to adhere to the member states’ restrictions applying to all non-EU nationals. In the Netherlands, the Decree implementing the Aliens Employment Act (Buwav) sets out the work permit exempt activities for short term travellers to the general rule that a work permit is required for all, such as business meetings, sports, artist performances etc. The extent of these waived activities is rather limited in terms of the nature of the activity and the permitted timeline.

The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides a certain level of preferential treatment to EU citizens travelling to the UK and vice versa. Whether or not these permissions are more favourable than the existing national rules, will vary a lot between member states.

The trade agreement lists specific activities short-term business visitors are permitted to engage in. Some member states have negotiated non-conform measures so one should always be sure to check the applicable provisions per member state. In the Netherlands the following applies without reservations.

Short-term business travellers are permitted to engage in the following activities:

  • a) meetings and consultations: natural persons attending meetings or conferences, or engaged in consultations with business associates
  • b) research and design: technical, scientific and statistical researchers conducting independent research or research for a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;
  • c) marketing research: market researchers and analysts conducting research or analysis for a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;
  • d) training seminars: personnel of an enterprise who enter the territory being visited by the Short-term business visitor to receive training in techniques and work practices which are utilised by companies or organisations in the territory being visited by the Short-term business visitor, provided that the training received is confined to observation, familiarisation and classroom instruction only;
  • e) trade fairs and exhibitions: personnel attending a trade fair for the purpose of promoting their company or its products or services;
  • f) sales: representatives of a supplier of services or goods taking orders or negotiating the sale of services or goods or entering into agreements to sell services or goods for that supplier, but not delivering goods or supplying services themselves. Short-term business visitors shall not engage in making direct sales to the general public;
  • g) purchasing: buyers purchasing goods or services for an enterprise, or management and supervisory personnel, engaging in a commercial transaction carried out in the territory of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;
  • h) after-sales or after-lease service: installers, repair and maintenance personnel and supervisors, possessing specialised knowledge essential to a seller’s contractual obligation, supplying services or training workers to supply services pursuant to a warranty or other service contract incidental to the sale or lease of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including computer software, purchased or leased from a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person throughout the duration of the warranty or service contract;
  • i) commercial transactions: management and supervisory personnel and financial services personnel (including insurers, bankers and investment brokers) engaging in a commercial transaction for a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;
  • j) tourism personnel: tour and travel agents, tour guides or tour operators attending or participating in conventions or accompanying a tour that has begun in the territory of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person; and
  • k) translation and interpretation: translators or interpreters supplying services as employees of a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person.

In certain areas UK citizens will have a more favourable position than other non-EU citizens. As an example, work activities pertaining market research and research and design is not exempt from a work permit requirement under Dutch regulations, but UK citizens do not require a work permit for this type of activity due to the trade agreement’s special provisions.

It is yet to be seen what the extent of these permitted activities will be. We expect that case law will play an important role in further defining the scope of these waivers. Risk averse travellers will require a restrictive reading of these provisions.

The trade treaty between the EU and the UK is currently valid on the basis of provisional application (Article FINPROV.11: Entry into force and provisional application). The European Council (leaders of the Member States) has approved the agreement. For ratification by the EU, the assent of the European Parliament is also requested for all language versions of the treaty. A legal verification of all language versions is still ongoing. The end date of provisional application mentioned in Article FINPROV.11 (28 February 2021) has been extended to 30 April 2021.

For more information or advice on UK citizens’ rights to work in the Netherlands, please contact Reinier Wolters, r.wolters@valegis.com