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Brexit - Border Force questioning, UK Press Cards

MEMBERS WHO are EU nationals and arrive at a point of entry to the UK are reminded that Border Force personnel shouldn't be asking them to provide evidence of their legal residence in the country.

A Press Card in its little envelope

A UK-issued NUJ Press Card in its little envelope

Under the Withdrawal Agreement, Border Force are allowed to ask whether an EU national is a resident or a visitor, but they aren't permitted to ask for evidence of their residency or Settled Status.

Border Force Director General Paul Lincoln told Parliament's Public Accounts Committee in January that he had reminded his staff of this. The questions that Border Force personnel are currently allowed to ask EU nationals are mostly about compliance with coronavirus regulations. EU diplomats had reported that EU nationals were "systematically" being asked on arrival about their Settled Status in the UK.

There have been reports of immigration officials of EU Member States stamping the passports of UK nationals on arrival, which under the Withdrawal Agreement they shouldn't do. UK nationals should be able to enter and leave the EU as visitors without the need for a passport stamp. It is likely that this practice is linked to current coronavirus travel restrictions. It is possible that these particular border issues may recede once the pandemic is over.

Landlords and employers

EU nationals are reminded that UK landlords and employers are not supposed to demand evidence of Settled Status until the "grace period" for EU nationals to sort out their Settled Status ends on 30 June 2021.

Press Card woes

One unforseen consequence of Brexit is that NUJ Press Cards issued in the UK cannot now be posted to an address outside the UK. Press Cards arrive in a small padded envelope smaller than most letters that have a printed address. Post-Brexit, every item of post leaving the UK for the EU needs a customs declaration, unless it's clearly "personal correspondence" - which the Press Card envelope isn't. The Press Card Authority isn't equipped to deal with all the returned envelopes bearing a sticker saying a customs declaration is now needed.

This has become an issue for members of NUJ Paris Branch, some of whom rely on their NUJ Press Cards as a supporting document for the attestation that they need to print off and fill in whenever they go out and about for work in this time of Covid. (The French Ministry of the Interior currently recognises NUJ Press Cards for this purpose, according to Paris Branch.)

Chris Myant, NUJ Paris Branch Secretary, told the Freelance that both the NUJ head office in London and Paris Branch are working on a solution: watch this space.