Things are about to change as we progress through 2021 after the UK officially parted ways with the European Union

Following the decision to leave the EU, the government have been forced to introduce new laws that are set to be put into place over the coming months.

The UK officially left the EU at 11pm on New Year's Eve, ending free movement and simple trade deal with our neighbours on the continent.

Now that a deal has been made restricting travel, cheap phone bills while travelling along with free healthcare is set to become a thing of the past.

From immigration laws to copyright laws have a read below to see what changes next year has in store for you.

1. Freedom of movement ends and a new immigration system comes in

Immigration laws are one of the biggest changes

The UK's freedom of movement within the EU - which gives people from EU member countries the right to live and work abroad - will end on December 31.

A new points-based system will then replace it, much as they have in Australia.

From January, jobs offered to non-UK workers must have a skill level of 'RQF3' or above (equivalent to A level).

Workers must also be able to speak English and secure a salary from their sponsor that meets the threshold - £25,600 or the going rate for the job, whichever is higher.

Workers who earn less than £25,600 but no less than £20,480 can still apply to work in the UK by 'trading' points against their salary - i.e. if the role is in a 'shortage occupation' such as certain science roles, engineering jobs, some IT and business jobs, medical roles and veterinarians.

You can view the full list here.

The skilled worker visa will cost between £610 and £1,408 per person unless they have skills that the UK needs more of.

EU citizens (except people from Ireland), or people from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, who are living and working in the UK will need to apply to continue living in the UK after December 31, this year.

2. Drivers to be banned from picking up mobile phones

Sending mobile phone messages while driving should become a thing of the past

Tighter laws surrounding using mobile phones are set to come in next year.

In 2019, there were 637 casualties on Britain’s roads – including 18 deaths and 135 serious injuries – in crashes where a driver using a mobile was a contributory factor.

The government has been consulting on current laws around mobile phones in cars in a bid to make it illegal in all circumstances.

Currently, it is only illegal to make and receive calls and texts while behind the wheel.

But there is no law stopping drivers from taking photographs, playing games or even scrolling through music playlists.

This is because doing any of these are not classed as "interactive communication", which is the definition of the offence.

Changes to make this legal loophole obsolete are underway and are expected to be introduced in the spring.

3. UK travellers banned from entering EU after January 1 due to coronavirus

border control
Going overseas could become even more difficult

Brits are set to be banned from travelling to Europe when the transition period ends in January, according to reports.

Strictly speaking, this would only be a temporary change but it's an example of how Covid-19 and Brexit make for a double whammy.

Currently, Brits are still allowed to travel to large chunks of the continent under freedom of movement rules.

But from New Year's Day, when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union either with or without a deal, that will change.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab admitted travel could be disrupted across Europe as a result.

Due to the pandemic, EU countries only allow non-essential travel from non-EU countries with low coronavirus infection rates.

Currently, only travellers from eight such countries are allowed to travel into the EU, according to a report in the Financial Times.

EU officials told the FT there was no proposal to add the UK to that list of safe nations, which includes Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

Some EU member states do not even allow travellers from countries on the safe list, reflecting the hard battle much of Europe is facing to control coronavirus infection rates.

4. End to free mobile roaming for Brits in Europe

Roaming charges could go up in Europe with no EU membership


UK mobile phone users currently get free data roaming across the whole of the EU.

But after January 1, Brits will no longer get this privilege and phone firms will be free to hit you with roaming charges.

You must check with your phone provider to see if you will be affected.

If you are hit with roaming charges, you can rack up a bill of £45 before you are prompted and asked if you want to spend more.

At the moment EE, 02, Three and ­Vodafone say they have no plans to start charging UK customers when they’re in EU countries.

How long that lasts, however, remains to be seen.

5. Return of blue passports and what it means for travellers

Boris Johnson holds up one of the new passports


New - or old, depending on how you look at it - blue passports become a permanent fixture from January.

Burgundy passports will still be valid after Brexit until they're replaced, with all new passports issued from mid-2021 turning blue.

From next month you must have at least six months left on your passport, which needs to be less than 10 years old, in order to travel to most EU countries.

Travel to Ireland does not apply.

Tourists on short trips of under 90 days to the EU will not need a visa to travel but they may be needed for trips longer than that and for work, study and or business travel.

Travellers are advised to check the advice for the country they are travelling to before planning a trip.

6. Copyright law

Changes to copyright law will come into effect on January 1, the first in almost two decades.

Its purpose is to give artists, musicians and publishers a better chance of being paid when their work appears online.

The agreement aims to provide a “balanced” approach that would protect smaller artists without causing a significant impact on the biggest internet platforms such as Google and YouTube.

The bigger platforms will now be legally responsible for the user-generated material they host in the EU.

From January they will have to obtain licences from rights-holders to show their material.

Content uploaded for the purpose of caricature, parody or pastiche, including memes and GIFs will be exempt from this.

7. European Health Insurance Card expiring

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
A European Health Insurance Card

The EHIC is a neat - and free - little thing that allows Brits to state-provided medical treatment in EU countries in the event of illness or accident.

It also works in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein and plenty of Brits take advantage with 27 million cards issued.

Unlike some travel insurance, it even covers pre-existing conditions.

However, from the end of this year, the EHIC will not be valid for most Brits as we leave the EU.

Instead, travellers are advised to make sure you get travel insurance that covers your needs, particularly those who have a pre-existing medical condition.

There are some exceptions.

UK state pensioners living in the EU before the end of 2020 will still be able to use their EHIC beyond 2020.

UK students who start a course in the EU before the end of 2020 will also still be able to use their EHIC until their course finishes.

The same applies to so-called 'frontier workers' defined as people who work in one state and live in another.

But for the vast majority of us, it's just another benefit we need to wave bye-bye to.

For more information on the post-transitional period changes for 2021, visit the government website.

8. Trade to become complicated

Lorries will not face border checks when travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland

Businesses across Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) will be faced with further complications as those importing and exporting will be required to make customs declarations for EU goods.

Customs duty and VAT will be added to all imports, while products such as certain foods, plants and live animals will be required to have specific licenses and certificates - or to be labelled in a specific way.

However, import declarations will be able to be declared for up to six months in a bid to speed up the process.

Despite being part of the UK, the rules for Northern Ireland will be different as the country will still follow the vast majority of the EU rules.

Lorries crossing the border into the Republic of Ireland will not face checks but imports from mainland Britain will be checked upon arrival into Northern Ireland.

Governments for the four devolved nations of the UK have reached an agreement to eliminate tariffs on most trade.