11th January 2021
The situation in each country, regarding travelling and contracting, is changing almost on a daily basis, mainly as a consequence of Covid, and the information contained in this blog may not be as accurate at the time of reading as it was at the time of writing. Please check with an expert before committing.
When it comes to global contractor placements, the ability for individuals to travel and relocate for work is certainly a major success factor. But in the last year this has certainly been increasingly challenging, with the global pandemic leading to border closures and restricted movement on a global scale.
In order to help staffing companies stay on top of the latest changes that could impact them, we’ve outlined the latest contractor travel updates that international recruitment firms need to be aware of.
Covid-19 restriction changes
There’s no doubt that the Coronavirus pandemic has had the biggest impact on cross-border contractor placements as border restrictions and closures prevent the relocation of some individuals for work opportunities.
While these are constantly being adapted as infection rates change globally, at the time of writing, the following requirements had been put in place for travellers:
- On Christmas Eve 2020, reports revealed that the EU Commission had advised its member states to ban all but essential travel from the UK following the increase in infection rates as a result of the new, more infections, Coronavirus strain.
- Following the announcement from the Commission, authorities from Lithuania revealed that anyone travelling to the country from the UK and Northern Ireland would need to either present a negative Covid test or self-quarantine once they crossed the border. With Coronavirus cases also on the up in Lichtenstein and Switzerland, travellers reaching Lithuania from either of these destinations will also be subject to the same requirements for the foreseeable future.
- The Dutch government has also taken steps to limit the spread of the virus in light of the impact that the new strain is having across Europe. At the end of December, it was revealed that anyone entering the Netherlands from any member state of the EU or Schengen region will be required to present a negative Covid test that has been taken within 72 hours of arrival. This also applies to Dutch nationals returning to the country from other member destinations. According to a statement from the government: “If a passenger is unable to present a negative test result, they may not travel to the Netherlands and will not be permitted to board the aircraft or ferry.”
- With the pandemic continuing to grip most of Europe, it’s perhaps no surprise that there are rumours that anyone travelling across the EU will be obliged to get vaccinated before they can travel. While this will only apply once the vaccine is available for everyone, there are already discussions in the pipeline as to how this will impact travel insurance. In a recent discussion with Schengen Visa Information, for example, lvio Chilelli from Europ Assistance, a travel insurance firm, indicated that should the European Union update its own requirements, they will follow suit and will only provide cover for individuals who have been vaccinated.
Brexit travel limitations for UK nationals
While Covid-19 was certainly the main driving force behind contractor travel restrictions throughout most of 2020, for UK and EU nationals travelling between the UK and Europe, the end of the Brexit transition period looks set to further complicate movement.
As we outlined at the beginning of this year, international recruitment firms are facing a number of contractor placement challenges in a post-Brexit world. The length of time it could take for individuals to obtain the relevant work permit, for example, could hinder some placements.
However, according to Schengen Visa Information, some UK nationals are also already finding travel restriction difficulties – including additional checks at ports of entry. But many will also soon face a limited period of permitted stay within the borderless zone. Non-EU citizens who enter the Schengen Area can stay visa-free for a maximum of 90 days out of every 190 days.
Before the end of the transition period, UK nationals were not subject to this rule. Now, however, overstaying this period could result in penalties such as deportation and potential re-entry bans that will certainly impact contractor placements in the long term.
Changes in Finland
Beyond the Covid and Brexit-related travel restrictions, it’s also important that international recruitment firms are aware of other issues which could impact contractor travel and placements. In Finland, for example, authorities have increased the cost of several immigration services, effective as of 1st January this year. This means that the price of processing citizenship and resident permit applications for employees and entrepreneurs has now gone up, which is certainly likely to impact recruiters placing contractors in the country.
The fee for processing paper-based residence permit applications in 2021 for an employee or entrepreneur will now be €690 or €610 (depending on if the request is subject to an availability assessment or not). Prior to this change, these fees were €640 or €560.
International recruitment contractor travel: why compliance is key
While cross-border travel restrictions are constantly being adapted in light of the pandemic and requirements from individuals are changing as governments implement new visa needs, there is one thing that simply will not change: the importance of compliance.
For recruitment firms placing contractors internationally, the risks to their firm for the non-compliant behaviour of a contractor are growing. But with the international contractor market opening up potentially lucrative opportunities for many firms, it’s certainly an area to tap into.
If you’re expanding your international footprint or you need advice on the compliance requirements for your global contractors, the 6CATS International team can help.
Contact us today.