Brexit: No Work Visas Needed for UK Translators, Interpreters on Short EU Trips

Implications of Brexit on the Translation and Localization Industry

A December 24, 2020 trade and cooperation agreement between the EU and the UK confirms that UK translators and interpreters are among the limited number of professionals who will be permitted to work in EU countries without work visas during short business trips.

The 1,246-page document outlining the agreement was released just days before the Brexit transition period ended on December 31, 2020.  

Samuel Lowe, a London-based Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European Reform, tweeted on December 26, 2020 that translation and interpretation is one of 11 activities that “short-term business visitors are permitted to engage in.”

Meanwhile, translator Kim Sanderson, in a December 28, 2020 tweet shared a document where she collated the document’s relevant parts for translators and interpreters.

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According to the agreement, certain EU countries differentiate between self-employed independent professionals (IP) and contractual service suppliers (CSS), who hold contracts of less than 12 months with an employer.

Before admitting UK translators and interpreters into a given assignment, the following countries will assess the potential impact on local linguists (or language service providers) via an economic needs test: Austria (CSS, IP); Belgium (IP); Bulgaria (CSS, IP); the Czech Republic (CSS, IP); Denmark (CSS, IP); Greece (IP); Spain (IP); Finland (CSS, IP); Hungary (CSS, IP); Ireland (CSS, IP); Italy (IP); Lithuania (CSS, IP); Latvia (CSS); Romania (CSS, IP); and Slovakia (CSS, IP).

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Cyprus, Germany, Estonia, France, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden do not require an economic needs test for either category of interpreter or translator. CSS linguists from the UK can work in Croatia without an economic needs test, but Croatia specifies that the country is “unbound” (i.e., makes no commitment either way) with regard to IP linguists.

The economic needs test is not a prerequisite for EU translators and interpreters of either stripe working on short assignments in the UK.