Brexit and the transition period

The UK leaves the European Union (EU) at 23:00 GMT on 31 January, but that won't be the end of the Brexit story.

That's because the UK will immediately enter an 11-month period, known as the transition, that will keep the UK bound to the EU's rules.

So what is the transition and why is it necessary?

The transition (sometimes called the implementation period) is due to last until 31 December 2020.

During this period, the UK will remain in both the EU customs union and single market.

That means, until the transition ends, most things will stay the same. This includes:

  • Travelling to and from the EU (including the rules around driving licences and pet passports)
  • Freedom of movement (the right to live and work in the EU and vice versa)
  • UK-EU trade, which will continue without any extra charges or checks being introduced

Once the transition begins, the UK will automatically lose its membership of the EU's political institutions, including the European Parliament and European Commission.