Oxford and the EU: staff Q&A

Q&As for students are available on the Oxford and the EU: student Q&As page.

*UPDATE 6 January 2021* An agreement on the future relationship between the UK and the EU has been reached. The new trade agreement is called the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and is being implemented from 1 January 2021. The Q&As below have been updated to reflect the new arrangements.

Implications of the UK's exit from the European Union

The United Kingdom and the European Union have concluded a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) following the UK’s departure from the EU and end of the transition period. The TCA, agreed on 24 December 2020, came into force on 1 January 2021.

The Agreement establishes a framework for the future UK-EU relationship and provides for new arrangements on trade, transport and the regulation of goods and services, among others. It confirms that UK institutions will be eligible to participate in the EU’s Horizon Europe, Euratom Research and Training, and Copernicus programmes.

The University has made extensive preparations to mitigate the impact of the UK’s exit from the EU on our students, staff and day-to-day operations. Colleagues in the Immigration Team, Research Services, Finance Division and Compliance are available to offer support and guidance as we work to adapt to these changes.

The University of Oxford is, and intends to remain, a thriving, cosmopolitan community of scholars and students united in our commitment to education and research. The departure from the EU will not change this; our staff and students from all across the world are as warmly welcome as ever.

The latest advice on the Brexit process can be found below. This information is correct at the time of writing on the basis of current UK Government and EU policy. It will be updated as new advice is issued.

Immigration and visas (Reviewed 11/01/21)

Absolutely. All Oxford University staff from the EU/EEA and Switzerland living in the UK before 1 January 2021 will continue to have the right to live and work in the UK.

EU/EEA nationals and their family members who do not currently have either British nationality or Indefinite Leave to Remain who currently live in the UK have until 30 June 2021 to apply for Pre-Settled, or Settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme. Pre-Settled is for those who have been living in the UK for less than five years, Settled is for those living here five years or more. They will continue to have the right to work and live in the UK up until the application deadline. People who have Permanent Residence (the equivalent of Settled under the old system) will still need to apply to swap it for Settled.

Further information about the EU Settlement Scheme is available on the gov.uk website.


(Updated 11/01/21)

In addition to the EU Settlement Scheme, those EU/EEA and Swiss staff who meet the requirements may wish to go one step further and apply for British Citizenship. The University’s Visa Loan Scheme also enables EU staff and their families to utilise this benefit for British Citizenship applications. If you are considering dual citizenship, you should check the legal position of the relevant country before making an application, as not all EU countries allow dual nationality. The Staff Immigration Team can assist with questions concerning the requirements and the application process.

(Reviewed 11/01/21)

Yes. The rights of those already resident in the UK will not change. EU/EEA and Swiss citizens and their family members who arrived before 1 January 2021 will have the same rights as those already resident in the UK.  As long as they arrived before 31 December 2020, they will have until 30 June 2021 to apply for Pre-Settled status to evidence their rights in the UK after 2021. Family members of EU/EEA and Swiss citizens living in the UK will still have the option of arriving after 1 January but will need to apply for a visa in advance (at no charge). However, for jobs starting after 1 January 2021, those EU/EEA and Swiss candidates who have not been living in the UK before 1 January will almost certainly require UK visas for themselves and their families. The Staff Immigration Team should be contacted three months before the start date to ensure that if a visa is required, it can be obtained.

(Updated 11/01/21)

If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen who has not yet started work in Oxford due to the Covid-19 pandemic (working instead outside the UK since the start of their employment), you must have started living in the UK before 1 January 2021or you and your family will be required to apply for a work visa at considerable expense.
This requirement will not apply to EU/EEA citizens who already have Settled or Pre-Settled status, or who have already established a home in the UK and are eligible to apply for Settled or Pre-Settled status.

(Updated 11/01/21)

It is not yet clear what absences related to Covid-19 will be accepted as an important reason for the purpose of the 12 months absence.

If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen who was resident in the UK before the Covid-19 pandemic, but have been working outside the UK during the pandemic, you should be aware of the following: 
If you have not yet applied for Settled or Pre-Settled status, you should apply as soon as possible and before you have been out of the UK for more than 6 months (and in some cases up to a year). It might be possible to make the application from outside the UK, as explained on the gov.uk website. Contact the Staff Immigration Team if you require more information on this issue.

If you already hold Pre-Settled status, you can remain outside the UK for up to 2 years without losing your Pre-Settled status; BUT if your absence outside the UK is more than 6 months in any 12 month period (or 12 months for an important reason, such as a work or study placement, maternity or illness) it will break the continuity of residence that you need in order to be eligible for settled status. 

While you can remain in the UK for the five years, the long absence might mean that you will not qualify for Settled status at the end of that time. This then may require you to apply for a work visa (at significant expense).

It is not yet clear what absences related to Covid-19 will be accepted as an important reason for the purpose of the 12 months absence.

(Updated 11/01/21)

If you are an EU/EEA or Swiss citizen who has been working in the UK but living more than 180 days outside the UK each year, you are deemed to be a ‘frontier worker’. You will be apply to continue doing so but you will need to apply for a frontier worker permit. You will need to apply before 1 July 2021.

For more information, see: Frontier workers in the UK: rights and status - GOV.UK.

(Reviewed 11/01/21)


Eligibility for the EU Settlement Scheme ended on 31 December 2020, after which new EU/EEA nationals entering the UK do so under the new immigration rules. 

The new immigration system is based on the existing system used for existing non-EEA nationals, but permits a wider range of roles to be sponsored. Initial detailed guidance on the new immigration system has been published and the system is now open for visas starting after 1 January 2020. 

The Staff Immigration Team will have the expertise capable of providing support to those who need to apply.

Contact the Staff Immigration Team to discuss and explore visa application options and timings for Europeans, or their family members, coming to the UK to take up roles in 2021.

(Updated 11/01/21)

Further questions?

Please contact the University’s Staff Immigration team

James Baker james.baker@admin.ox.ac.uk 01865 289908

Tim Currie tim.currie@admin.ox.ac.uk 01865 289903

Visit the website



Research (Reviewed 06/01/21)

The timeline for association is still to be confirmed. The UK-EU Agreement Declarationsstate that the parties to the Agreement intend that protocols will be adopted at the earliest opportunity “with the ambition that United Kingdom entities would be able to participate from the beginning of the programmes and activities identified”.

Horizon Europe will not officially start until it is formally adopted by the EU (expected by February).

(Updated 06/01/21)

Yes. Once the UK association process is complete, UK researchers and institutions will be eligible to lead and/or participate in collaborative funding call applications, and to apply for ERC and Marie Skłodowska-Curie funding. We understand that the first Horizon Europe ERC calls will open as soon as Horizon Europe has been formally adopted by the EU. The first collaborative funding calls are not expected to open before April. Marie Skłodowska-Curie calls are currently expected to open in April/May.

(Updated 06/01/21)

Yes. UK based institutions continue to be eligible to participate in collaborative project bids made to Horizon 2020 calls, regardless of the call deadline – which therefore includes the Green Deal call

(Updated 06/01/21)

Your project participation will be funded bythe EC for the full duration of the project regardless of the project start or end date. This is the case for collaborative projects and for ERC and Marie Skłodowska-Curie funding.

(Updated 06/01/21)

Evaluation of Horizon 2020 proposals is unaffected by Brexit. If successful your project will be funded in its entirety by the EC. This is the case for MSCA Individual Fellowship and ERC grant proposals currently in evaluation, and for UK participation in collaborative projects awaiting evaluation results. 

(Updated 06/01/21)

Further questions?

For information about Horizon Europe and its contents, or if you have specific questions about participation in EC funding, please email Gill Wells and Katie Price in the European & International
Team, Research Services

Please email any other questions to the Research Accounts team


Pay and purchasing (Reviewed 06/01/21)

Now we have left the EU, there will be no tariffs or quotas on the movement of goods between the UK and EU, provided the goods meet the Rules of Origin (RoO). However, in respect of new contracts for goods we recommend you use the University’s preferred delivery term ‘DDP (delivered duty paid) to the point of installation’ which ensures your goods are delivered with all relevant duties paid to the installation point, and that you make use of the University’s preferred freight forwarder DHL. Please visit the Taxation page on the Finance website to view the University’s import guidance for further details on incoterms. Where possible you should also seek to contract in sterling (to minimise the potential impacts of exchange rate movements).

(Updated 06/01/21)


Now that we have left the EU (1 January 2021), whenever the University is the importer of record, the import VAT will be accounted for on our VAT return after the goods have been imported. There should be no additional VAT or duty costs, provided the imported goods originated in the EU. There may be additional clearance costs.

Please visit our Finance pages for further guidance on imports

(Updated 06/01/21)


You should refer to the contract to determine who is liable for the risk. It is possible some suppliers will ask for additional payments to cover Brexit-related costs, such as exchange rate movements. If you need further advice please contact the Purchasing Department or Legal Services Office.

(Updated 31/01/20)

The Purchasing Department has contacted all preferred suppliers of generic items, such as stationary and routine lab supplies, to discuss their contingency planning in relation to Brexit-related risks. We have also involved departments in validating these contingency plans. As more information becomes available about our likely trading relationship with the EU post 31 December 2020 we will update these plans and publish information in respect of specific suppliers and goods via Shopping News.

(Updated 31/01/20)

Further questions?

Please email the purchasing team


Data protection (Reviewed 06/01/21)

While a member of the EU and during the transition period the UK was termed as an ‘adequate’ country under GDPR allowing the transfer of personal data across the European Economic Area and UK (GDPR applies to EEA not just EU). Brexit has occurred without an adequacy finding from the EU for the UK. However, the Treaty agreed with the EU allows the flow of personal data from the EU (and EEA) to the UK to continue for a period of no longer than six months.

If the EU adopts an adequacy decision for the UK in the six month period it will mean that the EU considers the UK to have an adequate level of data protection in place to allow personal data to be transferred from the EU (and EEA) to the UK. Adequacy decisions are reviewed every four years.

If an adequacy decision is not adopted within six months from 1 January 2021 there is likely to be some disruption to EU (and EEA) data transfers to the UK when that six month period expires. To overcome this disruption and become compliant with EU GDPR it’s likely that contracts will need updating to include Standard Contractual Clauses: see below for more details.

It is not yet clear whether an adequacy decision for the UK will be adopted by the EU.

(Added 06/01/21)

 As part of the withdrawal arrangements the UK has written GDPR into UK law, UK GDPR. It is likely that over time EU GDPR and UK GDPR will diverge but for now our obligations remain the same as they were under EU GDPR.

(Updated 06/01/21)

As a sensible precaution to guard against any future disruption, departments should review their existing projects/research data to understand which involve the transfer of personal data from the EU (and EEA) to the UK. As part of this review you should seek to establish whether the arrangement is a data controller to data controller or a data controller to data processor transfer.

The standard contractual clauses can either be inserted into contracts as soon as you are able to agree these updates with partners transferring data from the EU (and EEA) or be prepared to do so when necessary. If this is the case we have created a template letter to assist you:

Research Services are available to support departments with all agreements that relate to research activity.

(Updated 06/01/21)

Yes, the UK has, on a transitional basis, deemed the EU and EEA States to be adequate to allow for data flows from the UK this means that, for now, the UK will continue to be able to share personal data with the EU/EEA States without additional measures being put in place to safeguard the personal data.

(Updated 06/01/21)

Yes, for a six month period from 1 January 2021 or longer if an adequacy decision is adopted by the EU for the UK.

(Updated 06/01/21)

There are a number of options available to EEA organisations to share personal data with the UK, the most suitable for ongoing personal data transfers is likely to be ‘Standard Contractual Clauses’. Standard Contractual Clauses are contractual guarantees entered into by both parties which guarantee the protection of personal data once it leaves the protection of GDPR. The templates provided on this page contain the standard contractual clauses and guidance on how to complete them. 

It’s important to note that there are two templates: data controller to data controller standard contractual clauses and data controller to data processor clauses. In the latter of these two the data controller must be located in the EEA. In most cases the University is a controller however, departments should, as part of their review of existing projects/research data, where the University is not the controller, establish the location of the controller.

There are also alternative derogations within the GDPR that could be used for the transfer of data these are set out within Article 46 and Article 49 but are unlikely to be suitable for the majority of ongoing international data transfers at the University.

(Updated 06/01/21)

The Privacy Shield was an arrangement for the sharing of data between the US and EEA where US companies agreed to a standard of data protection as agreed with the EU. In July 2020 the European Court ruled Privacy Shield provided insufficient protection to EU data subjects largely as a result of US security oversight and it was invalidated for US transfers. If you need to share personal data with the US we have created templates:

Within this ruling the court also highlighted that Standard Contractual Clauses would not automatically be valid and there are additional safeguards and considerations the data controller sharing the data should seek to put in place. The European Data Protection Board provided advice on this in mid-November 2020 and we will provide further advice once we have assessed this.

(Updated 06/01/21)

Yes – the EU started consultation on the replacement of the Standard Contractual Clauses in mid November 2020. This consultation closed in December and therefore we’d expect to see the new contractual clauses introduced at some point in 2021. The draft implementing decision includes a one year sunset clause so any contracts would need to be updated within one year of the new clauses being introduced.

(Updated 06/01/21)

Further questions?

Please contact the Compliance team:


The University understands that there are other questions for which many staff will want answers. Please do contact the teams and consult the links to further information detailed on this page. The University will update this page as UK and EU negotiations advance

Contact us

Immigration, visas and the EU Settlement Scheme:
Please contact either James Baker or Tim Currie in the University’s Staff Immigration Team



Research and EU funding issues:
Please contact Research Services


Pay and purchasing issues:
Please contact the Purchasing team





The information provided in these Q&As is for general guidance only and does not constitute legal advice. If you need more details on your rights, or legal advice about what action to take, please obtain professional advice.

While every attempt has been made to ensure the information is accurate, the University will not accept liability for any loss, damage or inconvenience arising as a consequence of using this information.