Brexit - The United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union

On the 31st of January 2020, at 23:00 (continental Portugal time), the United Kingdom ceased to be a Member State of the European Union. At the same time, the Withdrawal Agreement came into force, ensuring an orderly withdrawal of that country from the European Union, and a transition period began. This period ended on the 31st of December 2020. Throughout that period, the Union law continued to be applied to the United Kingdom and the situation of the citizens, consumers, companies, investors, students, and researchers remained thus unchanged both in the European Union and in the United Kingdom.

Simultaneously, negotiations were held towards an agreement which would provide a framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. On the 24th of December 2020, both parties finally reached that agreement, whose provisional application took effect from the 1st of January, while the necessary steps for its ratification are being taken. The Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides for, namely, zero tariffs and zero quotas on all goods and includes a chapter dedicated to services, as well as provisions concerning public procurement, air and road transport, investment, digital trade, fisheries, energy, police and judicial cooperation, coordination of social security systems, cooperation in the field of health security and cybersecurity, the United Kingdom's participation in European Union programmes, among others.

The new reality from the 1st of January 2021

With the end of the transition period, on the 1st of January 2021, reality changes and, despite the agreement reached regarding the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, significant changes will occur, and they will have an impact on the citizens, on the trade of goods and on services, or mobility, among others, both from the European Union to the United Kingdom and from the United Kingdom to the European Union.

It is essential that citizens, consumers, companies, investors, students, researchers, and all interested parties become aware of those changes and that they prepare themselves properly for this new reality because the more prepared all actors are for these changes, the lower the impact and the costs of this new reality will be.

The national preparedness work for the unavoidable consequences of the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union began in 2018, leading the Portuguese Government to approve, in the Council of Ministers, on the 17th of January 2019, the Preparation and Contingency Plan of the Portuguese Government for the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union.

This Plan was revised and updated in accordance to the approval of the Withdrawal Agreement in 2019 and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement in 2020. 

At the European level, the European Commission has been playing a coordinating role and it has published .

The result from a joint effort, involving the European, national, regional, and local levels, as well as the companies/economic operators, citizens, and other interested parties. All actors must remain informed, follow the recommendations, and prepare themselves for all eventualities.

Within the scope of the national contingency measures, it shall be highlighted the adoption of legislation on financial services (Decree-Law No. 106/2020). From the 1st of January 2021 onwards, the authorisations to provide financial services from the United Kingdom will no longer be valid within the EU as they will become subject to the rules set out to operators from third countries. The Decree-Law establishes a transitional regime, which provides a framework for the provision of financial services by authorised entities based in the United Kingdom after the end of the transition period contained in the Withdrawal Agreement concluded between the EU and the United Kingdom.

The agreement on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom reached on the 24th of December is already available. In this regard, it shall be published the link to the agreement's text, as well as the European Commission's information material on the new future relation:

Please access also the links below, which can help you to prepare according to your situation or interest:




Information in English:



Consular Service Centre for the United Kingdom- Brexit line
Phone number: +(44) (0) 20 343 336 24 (from Monday to Friday, between 09:00 and 17:00)
Contact form

Call Centre “Europe Direct Contact Centre” (phone number: 00 800 67891011) – service of the European Union, free of charge, for citizens, companies, and other interested parties, reinforced to deal with questions related to Brexit. It operates from Monday to Sunday, between 08:00 and 17:00, and covers all the 24 official languages of the European Union.

Your Europe Advice - service provided to the public by legal experts from the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS), with which the European Commission has concluded a contract particularly for this purpose. It is composed of a team of 65 independent lawyers, who speak all the official EU languages and are familiar with both the European law and the national law of all EU countries.


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