What is 'Brexit?'
In a referendum held on 23 June 2016 the people of the United Kingdom voted by a margin of 52% to 48% to leave the European Union (EU) – a political and economic partnership of 28 European countries. This process has been labelled 'Brexit' in the media and among the public.
The United Kingdom's decision to leave the European Union poses a wide range of questions for Manx residents and businesses. Answers on a wide range of topics are displayed below. This page is updated regularly to reflect developments.
For further enquiries please contact the External Relations Division by email at: enquiries.CO@gov.im
What Brexit means for the Isle of Man
What is the Isle of Man’s current relationship with the EU?
The Isle of Man is not part of the European Union (EU) in its own right, and is not included within the scope of the UK's membership of the EU. The Isle of Man makes no financial contribution to the European Union nor does it receive any funding from the EU. It is not represented in the European Parliament but the Island does have a limited relationship with the EU under what is known as 'Protocol 3.'
What is Protocol 3?
The relationship between the Isle of Man and the EU is set out in Protocol 3 to the UK's Act of Accession by which the UK became a member of the EU. The Protocol allows the Island to be part of the EU customs area which permits the free movement of manufactured goods and agricultural products in trade between the Island and the Union, as well as free movement of people between the Isle of Man and the European Union.
Apart from the requirements of the Protocol - in particular that the Isle of Man must apply the same treatment to all natural and legal persons of the EU - other Union rules do not apply. The Island's relationship with the EU allows it to trade with countries in the European Economic Area (EEA) similarly to its trade with the Union itself.
Why is Brexit important to the Isle of Man?
The Isle of Man's relationship with the EU is dependent on the UK's membership of the EU; when the UK leaves the EU, our relationship through Protocol 3 will cease. As a result, the Isle of Man could be affected by changes to our relationship with the EU regarding customs, and potentially VAT; we could face the imposition of tariffs on goods which are exported to the EU and other countries, affecting manufacturing, agricultural and fisheries products. There may also be implications for the free movement of people between the UK and the Crown Dependencies and the EU.
Will Brexit affect the Isle of Man's relationship with the United Kingdom?
The Isle of Man is a British Crown Dependency with Her Majesty The Queen as Sovereign. The Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom and is internally autonomous and self-governing with its own independent legal, administrative and fiscal systems. The Island's parliament, Tynwald, legislates for the Island. There is nothing to suggest Brexit will have an impact on the underlying constitutional relationship between the Isle of Man and the United Kingdom.
Irrespective of the UK's future relationship with the EU, the UK is the Island's most important trading partner and the Isle of Man is in a currency union with the UK. The free movement of goods and people between the two is of utmost importance.
It is anticipated that the Customs and Excise Agreement between the Isle of Man and the UK will continue, although potentially modified in some way;
The rights of Isle of Man residents to British citizenship will not be affected. The rights, however, of those British citizens to live and work in the EU is the subject of negotiation.
What is Article 50?
Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union sets out how a Member State must go about leaving the EU. It allows two years for the negotiation of a withdrawal agreement. That period can only be extended be extended with the unanimous agreement of all EU Member States. The UK will also wish to negotiate its new relationship with the EU during that period. The UK formally notified the EU that it wished to begin discussion on leaving the EU on 29th March 2017 – this is often referred to as the "triggering" Article 50.
What did the Isle of Man do to prepare for the outcome of the referendum vote?
The Council of Ministers issued two reports in the run-up to the UK referendum on the potential effects of the vote on the Island: the first assessed the impact on the Island if the UK were to leave the EU, and the second looked in more detail at the possible alternatives to membership which the UK and the Isle of Man may choose to pursue. These reports were published and can be accessed here.
What is the Isle of Man Government doing now?
Following the result of the referendum in June 2016 the Council of Ministers published a further two reports. The third report provided updated information on the withdrawal process and analysis of the potential impact of Brexit for the Isle of Man. The fourth report provided an update on the Isle of Man Government’s ongoing work in preparation for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. These reports were published and can be accessed here.
The Council of Ministers has established the European Union Advisory Group to assess the implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in more detail, and to provide policy advice on future options and opportunities for the Island.
The Group has already begun its work. It is chaired by the Chief Secretary and includes senior officers from the Cabinet Office, the Treasury, HM Attorney General’s Chambers and the Departments for Economic Development, and for Environment, Food and Agriculture. The Group is progressing key areas of work across the Isle of Man Government including:
- Dealing with the legislative impact of withdrawal
- Engaging with the UK at a political and official level to set out the Island’s priorities, and to build relationships with key officials in the UK Government
- Identifying and conducting further research on potential opportunities and threats, and
- Assessing the longer term technical and legal processes which will support the Island’s position in relation to the World Trade Organisation, and the UK’s new Free Trade Agreements.
What kind of relationship will the UK be likely to negotiate with the EU?
There is now greater clarity on the UK’s ambitions, and it is clear that the Island will not be able to replicate its current relationship with the EU in the future, as the UK intends to leave the EU Customs Union. Negotiations will progress in the coming months, and the Island will continue working with the UK during that process.
The UK Government set out its vision of future economic partnership with the European Union in the Prime Minister’s Mansion House speech on 2 March 2018. In turn, the European Council’s negotiating guidelines for the future relationship, published on 7 March 2018, set out the EU’s vision.
What is the Isle of Man Government doing to ensure the UK Government understands our priorities for Brexit?
The Isle of Man Government and its counterparts in Jersey and Guernsey wrote to the UK Prime Minister following the UK referendum to emphasise that the Crown Dependencies had a direct interest in the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and in the negotiation of a future relationship. Continuing, as far as possible, the substance of the current arrangements with the EU, in particular the provisions of the Protocol 3 relating to trade in goods between the Islands and the EU was called for. The letter also explained that decisions taken on the grandfathering of rights for EU nationals were of particular relevance to the Crown Dependencies as the Islands are home to a significant number of non-British nationals and residents that have EU rights through their connection to the UK.
The UK Prime Minister Theresa May responded to confirm that the Crown Dependencies would be kept informed and offered the opportunity to contribute to negotiations where relevant and appropriate. In March 2017 the UK Prime Minister wrote to the Chief Minister in advance of the triggering of Article 50 to update the Isle of Man on the UK Government’s plan for engagement with the Crown Dependencies during the UK’s forthcoming negotiations with the EU. The UK Prime Minister advised that the constitutional relationship between the United Kingdom and the Crown Dependencies is a 'valued, historical and special one.'
The Chief Minister welcomed the assurances provided and the confirmation that Isle of Man’s constitutional relationship with the United Kingdom would not be impacted by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The Isle of Man Government continues to strengthen political and official level contacts, particularly with the UK Cabinet Office, the Department for Exiting the EU, and Department for International Trade, to ensure that the Isle of Man’s priorities are understood on as many fronts as possible. In addition, the Isle of Man will continue to talk to its partners across the Devolved Administrations and Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories.
Our ongoing programme of engagement includes:
- Quarterly meetings with Robin Walker MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU)
- Regular senior officer meetings with DExEU
- Regular meetings with the Home Office on border and Common Travel Area issues
- Regular meetings with HMRC and HM Treasury on customs & excise arrangements
- Regular meetings with HM Treasury on financial services
- Meetings with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Unit at the Department for International Trade on potential trading relations once Protocol 3 falls away
- Ongoing contact with the Crown Dependencies Team at the Ministry of Justice
- Regular meetings with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) on agriculture and fisheries
- Regular meetings with the Department for Transport (DOT) and DExEU on transport
- Regular meetings with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) on communications issues
- Submissions to three UK Parliament Committee enquiries on the effects of Brexit
- Regular engagement with the British-Manx All Party Parliamentary Group – a cross party group of MPs with an interest in the Isle of Man
- An ongoing targeted programme of 1-2-1 meetings with various MPs and peers.
Is this now the time for the Isle of Man to become independent?
It is Isle of Man Government policy, supported by a resolution of Tynwald, to remain a British Crown Dependency.
The Isle of Man Government does not envisage seeking a separate relationship with the EU from that which is negotiated by the UK for itself. If the Isle of Man were to become independent, Government would need to negotiate with the UK to guarantee free trade and free movement of people, as well as negotiating agreements with the EU and other countries. Investors, who we rely on to help grow the Island’s economy, prefer stability and certainty. As the Isle of Man is entering a very difficult and unsettled period it would the wrong time to be considering independence.
Could the Isle of Man seek a different relationship with the EU from that of the UK?
This would not be in our interests as it would likely prevent us from continuing to benefit from the free movement of people and goods between the Island and the UK, our closest neighbour and principal trading partner.
Most potential options for the Isle of Man to have an alternative relationship with the EU, for example becoming a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), would first require us to be an independent state. As outlined above, now is the wrong time for the Island to consider independence.
What opportunities may there be for the Isle of Man after the UK leaves the EU?
The Isle of Man Government is identifying and analysing opportunities associated with the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Now the direction of travel is becoming clearer, this area will be progressed alongside partners in the private sector.
As has been set out in the Fourth Interim Report, the main opportunities for the Island lie in the extent to which the Isle of Man can participate alongside the UK in new trading arrangements with third countries and, indeed, examining the relationship with the UK and assess opportunities to increase mutual competitiveness. The focus at this stage is ensuring that the Isle of Man is positioned effectively to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Because the Island is in Customs Union with the UK under the 1979 Customs and Excise Agreement there is free movement of goods between the UK and IOM.
As a result, it is highly likely that the Island will have to be included in the UK’s new free trade agreements, at least as far as they relate to trade in goods. However, the nature of the individual agreements may not always be in the best interests of the Manx economy so the Island will give every opportunity careful consideration.
Immigration, Nationality and Passports
Immigration and Nationality
I am an EU/EEA national living in the Isle of Man, has my status already changed?
No, there has been no change to the rights and status of EU or European Economic Area (EEA) nationals in the UK/Isle of Man, as a result of the referendum. The UK remains a member of the EU until 29 March 2019.
Will EU/EEA nationals living in the Isle of Man have different rights or status to those living in the UK?
No. The Council of Ministers has agreed to protect the position of EEA nationals who currently live and work in the Isle of Man. Settlement secured for EU nationals by the UK in their negotiations with the EU will apply to those resident in the Isle of Man, providing certainty and a status to those nationals who wish to remain in the Isle of Man following the UK’s exit from the EU; create a unified position for EU nationals between the Isle of Man and UK; and provide certainty to Isle of Man employers of the position of their EU national employees.
What will EU/EEA nationals need to do to stay in the UK/Isle of Man indefinitely?
The UK Government has reached an agreement with the European Union on citizens’ rights in negotiations on its withdrawal from the EU. This will provide certainty about the future to millions of EU citizens and their families in the UK and will allow EU citizens to stay in the UK after it leaves the EU on 29 March 2019.
The agreement the UK has reached for EU citizens and their families (which will apply equally to EU citizens in the Isle of Man) is:
- People who, by 29 March 2019, have been continuously and lawfully living in the UK for 5 years will be able to apply to stay indefinitely by getting ‘settled status’ and go on to apply for British Citizenship.
- People who arrive by 29 March 2019, but won’t have been living in the UK lawfully for 5 years when the UK leaves the EU, will be able to apply to stay until they have reached the 5-year threshold by getting ‘temporary status’. They can then also apply for settled status, and go on to apply for British Citizenship.
- Family members who are living with, or join, EU citizens in the UK by 29 March 2019 will also be able to apply for settled status, usually after 5 years in the UK.
- Close family members (spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents) will be able to join EU citizens after exit, where the relationship existed on 29 March 2019.
Are there different conditions for Irish and Croatian nationals?
Irish nationals enjoy separate rights, under various pieces of legislation, which allow Irish nationals residing in the UK to be treated in the same way as British nationals in most circumstances. There is no change to this position.
Croatian nationals might continue to need to apply for a registration certificate to be allowed to work in the UK under the transitional arrangements that were put in place when Croatia joined the EU in 2013. The type of registration certificate that they might need will depend on whether they need permission to work in the UK, and what they will be doing.
Is there a requirement for EEA nationals who are in the Isle of Man either as students or as self-sufficient persons to have comprehensive sickness insurance?
Yes. The Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2009 allow EEA citizens to qualify for right of residency in the Isle of Man. Under these regulations self-sufficient persons, students and their family members are required to have comprehensive sickness insurance in order to qualify for a right of residence. EEA nationals are entitled to treatment under the NHS, however for the purposes of EU law this does not count as having comprehensive sickness insurance. The Isle of Man is not a member of the EU and the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not accepted in the Isle of Man.
Can I get a 'Manx' passport?
What is often commonly called a 'Manx passport' is in fact a British Passport issued in the Isle of Man.
Why does my passport say 'European Union' on the cover and is it still valid? Can I get a British Passport that does not mention the European Union?
Although the Isle of Man is not a member of the European Union (EU), reference is made to the European Union on the passport's front cover. This is because the British passport recognises that the United Kingdom is a Member State of the European Union. Until the UK leaves the EU – which is expected to be at the end of March 2019 – British passports will continue to be issued with reference to the European Union. Such passports will continue to be valid.
What is a Manxman?
There is no clear definition of a Manxman. However, over time, some people have taken it to be the meaning set out in Article 6 of Protocol 3: 'Channel Islander or Manxman shall mean any citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies who holds that citizenship by virtue of the fact that he, a parent or grandparent was born, adopted, naturalised or registered in the Island in question; but such a person shall not for this purpose be regarded as a Channel Islander or Manxman if he, a parent or grandparent was born, adopted, or naturalised or registered in the United Kingdom. Nor shall he be so regarded if he has at any time been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom for five years.'
This means people who do not have a link to the UK through a parent, grandparent or from residency in the UK have what is known as the ‘long endorsement’ in their passport. This says the holder of the passport does not have the automatic right to live or work in the EU. It is not because they are Manx but because they have no right into the EU through the UK. Having the endorsement in the passport does not mean the holder is Manx: for example, a Chinese person who is naturalised and becomes a British Citizen in the Island also has the endorsement in their British passport. The same endorsement goes in British passports issued in the UK.
Protocol 3 will fall away as a result of Brexit and the Isle of Man Government has stated that it would wish to ensure that any settlement secured by the UK for British citizens should be secured for British citizens without any distinction and would apply equally to any persons defined as 'Manxmen' under Protocol 3.
Is there a difference between a passport issued in the United Kingdom and one issued in the Isle of Man?
British passports are issued under the Royal Prerogative.
In the Isle of Man this is undertaken by the Lieutenant Governor so British passports issued in the Isle of Man are issued by the Lieutenant Governor. British passports issued in the UK are issued by the Secretary of State. This is detailed on the inside front cover of the passport. This simply refers to the place of issue and not nationality. An inside page of British passports issued in the Isle of Man, known as the ‘biometric page’, states: “British Islands – Isle of Man” and the issuing authority is the Isle of Man.
The British passport issued in the United Kingdom states on the ‘biometric page’; 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland', and either IPS (Identify & Passport Service) or HMPO (Her Majesty’s Passport Office) as the issuing authority.
Rights of British Citizens to reside/work in the EU
Can I obtain a European Union Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or will I now need travel insurance when visiting EU countries?
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not available to Isle of Man residents.
The EHIC is only available to residents of countries within the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. It gives holders of the card the right to access state provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another country signed-up to the scheme. The Isle of Man is not part of the UK, a member of the EU or of the EEA, so people living on the Island are not – and never have been – eligible to use the EHIC scheme.
Insurance for healthcare is recommended for anyone travelling off the Isle of Man, including to the United Kingdom and the European Union.
Will Isle of Man students still be able to attend universities and colleges in the EU through the Erasmus programme?
The Erasmus Programme is the European Union’s (EU) flagship educational initiative that offers students and lecturers in higher education institutions the opportunity to study or work abroad throughout Europe and beyond. As the Isle of Man is not a member of the European Union, Isle of Man students have not been able to participate in this or any other EU funded educational programme. Brexit has no impact on our students.
Will the Isle of Man need to design new Blue Badges for disabled drivers travelling in the EU?
Until the nature of the UK's new relationship with the EU is agreed and the UK has left the EU, there is no change required to the design of the Blue Badges for disabled parking.
Will Isle of Man vehicle registration plates need to be changed?
An Isle of Man registered vehicle should not display the EU emblem as the Island is not part of the EU. Legislation prescribes that licence plates on Isle of Man registered vehicles should either display GBM or nothing.