2021 is finally here, after a whirlwind 2020 – and many are hoping positive changes lie ahead.
In the new year ahead there are already some planned changes to laws and rules that you should be aware of, as they could affect you.
Following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union (EU), the government has had to introduce new laws which will come into force over the next few months.
The UK has now officially left the EU, ending free movement and simple trade between the continent and the UK.
This new deal made with the EU means cheap phone bills while travelling is a thing of the past, the Daily Mirror reports.
From new driving laws to travel restrictions, here are the changes coming in 2021.
New points-based immigration system
The UK has enjoyed free movement to and from the UK, but because of Brexit, it has now ended.
A new points-based immigration system will replace it.
As of January, non-UK residents who want to work in the country will have to have a skill level of “RQF3” or above (equivalent to A level).
Workers will need to be able to speak English and secure a salary from their sponsor which meets the threshold – £25,600 or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.
Those who earn less, but no less than £20,480, can still apply to work by “trading” points against their salary.
Drivers banned from picking up mobile phones
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Drivers will need to be careful as new laws come into place this year.
It will become illegal for drivers to pick up their phones while driving.
Currently, there is a legal loophole which allows drivers to go unpunished for using a hand-held phone to take a photo or play a game.
End to free mobile roaming in Europe
Usually, when Brits have travelled to Europe, they have enjoyed free data roaming.
But as of January 1, phone companies will hit you with roaming charges for data services.
You have to check your phone provider to check if you are affected.
At the moment, EE, O2, Three and Vodaphone don’t plan on charging UK customers when they are in EU countries.
Return of blue passports
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The burgundy passport will be replaced with blue ones from mid-2021.
From next month you have to have at least six months left on your passport, which needs to be less than 10 years old, in order to travel to EU countries.
Tourists who are planning to stay under 90 days in the EU won’t need a visa, but they will do for longer trips and for work, study or business travel.
Changes to copyright law
A big change to copyright law means artists, musicians and publishers have a better chance of being paid when their works appear online.
As of January 1, bigger platforms will be legally responsible for the user-generated material they host in the EU.
They will have to obtain licenses from right-holders for the material.
European Health Insurance Card expires
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The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)has meant that Brits can enjoy state-provided medical treatment in EU or EEA countries.
However, as of the end of 2020, the EHIC will no longer be valid.
Instead, travellers need to make sure they are covered by their own travel insurance.
There are some exceptions, such as UK students who started their course in the EU before the end of 2020, and UK state pensioners living in the EU before the end of 2020.
Complicated trade deals
Businesses who want to import and export from the EU will be required to make complicated customers declarations.
Customs duty and VAT will be added to all imports and live animals will be required to have specific licenses and certificates.
Even though it is part of the UK, Northern Ireland will be different and still follow the vast majority of EU rules.
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