The UK has left the EU
The United Kingdom officially left the EU on 31 January 2020. Swiss–UK relations remain unchanged for the time being. This is because there is a transition period until at least the end of 2020, during which the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU continue to apply to Swiss–UK relations. Switzerland has already laid the basis for Swiss–UK relations after the transition period, however.
There will be no changes for the time being to Swiss–UK relations as a result of the UK's withdrawal from the EU since there is a transitional period until the end of 2020.
Transition period until (at least) the end of 2020
Switzerland enjoys close relations with the UK. Currently those relations are regulated primarily by the bilateral agreements that Switzerland has concluded with the EU. There will be no changes for the time being to Swiss–UK relations as a result of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. This is because there is a transition period until 31 December 2020, which could be extended by a maximum of two years. During the transition period, the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU continue to apply to Swiss–UK relations.
However, Switzerland also prepared the ground early on for its future relationship with the UK. As part of the Federal Council's Mind the Gap strategy – named after the famous announcements on the London underground – an interdepartmental steering group led by the FDFA has prepared several bilateral agreements with the UK. Agreements in the areas of trade, overland transport, air transport, insurance and citizens' rights have now been signed and will come into effect at the end of the transition period. The transition period gives Switzerland the opportunity to add to or update these alternative arrangements.
What happened between the United Kingdom (UK) and the EU on 31 January 2020?
On 31 January 2020, the UK formally withdrew from the European Union. Now a transition period begins during which the UK is still subject to EU rules. The transition period ends on 31 December 2020 and may be extended for one to two years. During this period, the EU and the United Kingdom will decide what shape their future relations will take.
What does this mean for Switzerland?
In legal terms, the relationship between Switzerland and the UK is mainly governed by the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU, which will remain in force until the end of the transition period. To safeguard the existing mutual rights and obligations with the UK, under its Mind the Gap strategy the Federal Council concluded agreements with the UK in the areas of trade, migration, transport and insurance.
What will change for Swiss people in the UK?
Swiss citizens in the UK (and vice versa) will retain their existing rights after Brexit. Swiss nationals who wish to remain in the UK once the transition period expires must register for a new residence status to continue to be able to live, study or work in the UK.
Do Swiss citizens now need a visa to travel to the UK?
No. Swiss citizens can continue to travel visa-free to the UK with a valid passport or identity card at least until the end of the transition period.
How will relations between Switzerland and the UK change after 31 December?
Where it is in the interest of both countries, Switzerland would like to expand its cooperation with the UK. Switzerland will continue to work on its future relations with the UK as part of the Mind the Gap strategy, which is coordinated by the FDFA.