Brexit has officially happened.

At 23:00 GMT on the 31st  of January 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union after 47 years of membership, 1531 days after the referendum.

However, not much changed until the 31st of December, as the UK had entered an eleven-month transition period. During this period, the UK remained in the EU single market and customs union. Despite the pandemic, free movement between the UK and EU member states was still possible.

However, now the transition period is over, immense change has taken place.

Freedom of movement between the United Kingdom and European Union member states has now ended.  British citizens no longer have an automatic right to study, live, retire and work in the EU, meaning you’ll need a visa if you visit for any reason other than tourism. However, the Republic of Ireland is an exception to this. Prior to Brexit, British citizens could apply for a European Health Insurance card, giving them access to emergency health care at the same cost as a resident in the country your visiting. However, once these expire, British citizens will have to apply to a new scheme. Free mobile roaming is also no longer guaranteed.

EU citizens living in the UK also face changes. To continue living in the UK after the 30th of June, they must apply to the EU Settlement scheme. Those who already have indefinite leave to remain do not need to apply. There is also a new points-based Immigration system for foreign nationals who want to move to the UK. EU and non-EU citizens will be treated equally. The Government aims to attract people who can contribute to the UK economy.

Trading with EU-member states has also become harder. Whilst their will not be taxes or limits on what can be traded, business now must make customs declarations. Certain products such as livestock and food now require further certification. Tales of a driver who had their ham sandwich confiscated on the Dutch border are amusing but show the lack of clarity in the rules.

Having left the EU, the UK is now free to negotiate its own trade deals. Former US President Donald Trump had attempted to negotiate a mini-trade deal, however he left office before it could be completed. Joe Biden does not have the same urge to make a deal.  The UK has also applied to join the CPTPP, an Asia-Pacific trade pack that Trump infamously pulled out of. This gives us access to a market of around 500 million people.

Whilst many of the new rules surrounding Brexit may seem confusing, it Is now clear that after years of political debate Brexit has finally happened.