What is 'Brexit?'
In a referendum held on 23 June 2016 the people of the United Kingdom and Gibraltar 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.
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.
The Customs and Excise Agreement between the Isle of Man and the UK will continue, though has been modified to provide for the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The new version was officially signed by Treasury Minister Alfred Cannan MHK and UK Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General Mel Stride on 26 November 2018.
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 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 Enterprise, and for Environment, Food and Agriculture.
The Chief Minister has led an extensive programme of engagement to raise awareness of the Island's position including quarterly meetings with Robin Walker MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union, proactive engagement with various UK parliamentary committees, with the other Crown Dependencies, our neighbouring jurisdictions and also engagement at the heart of the EU in Brussels.
Officers from the Isle of Man Government continue to work with relevant officials from across the UK Government to set out the Isle of Man's priorities and discuss the implications of withdrawal for the Island. This work will help to inform the UK's position but is also essential in building contacts with the people who will be involved in the negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU so that they are clear about the Island's issues and priorities.
Does the Withdrawal Agreement concluded by the UK and the EU protect the interests of the Isle of Man?
Yes. It makes clear that the Withdrawal Agreement applies to the Island and it limits the extent to which the Agreement applies, to the same extent as Protocol 3.
How long will the transition/implementation period last?
The Implementation Period is set to last until 31 December 2020, but it is possible for the UK to seek to have it extended (this is a one-time only opportunity).
There is currently speculation that the Implementation Period could be extended by two years though this would require additional financial contribution to the EU budget by the UK.
What should Isle of Man businesses that import from and export to the EU do to prepare for a no-deal exit?
If the United Kingdom leaves the EU without a deal, there would be immediate changes to the way Isle of Man businesses trade with businesses in the EU. The Isle of Man’s Customs and Excise Division sent a letter to all effected Island businesses in December 2018. There are three actions that businesses should take now:
- Register for a UK Economic Operator Registration and Identification (EORI) number at www.gov.uk/hmrc/get-eori. You’ll need an EORI number:
- To continue to import or export goods with the EU if the UK leaves without a deal
- Before you can apply for authorisations that will make customs processes easier for you
- Decide if you want to hire an agent to make import and/or export declarations for you or if you want to make these declarations yourself (by buying software that interacts with HMRC’s systems). If you want to:
- Declare through an agent, contact one to find out what information they’ll need from you
- Use software to make declarations yourself, talk to a software provider to make sure that their product meets your needs, depending on whether you import, export or both
- Contact the organisation that moves your goods (for example, a haulage firm) to find out if you will need to supply additional information to them so that they can make the safety and security declarations for your goods, or whether you will need to submit these declarations yourself.
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
- 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
- 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, including delegations at both the Conservative and Labour Party conferences.
Is this 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.
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.
Could some sort of closer relationship with Ireland allow us access to EU markets on better terms than the UK?
No. Firstly, Ireland is a part of the EU Common Market and therefore no nation can have a trading relationship with Ireland without negotiating that relationship with the whole EU. In this respect, our geographical and cultural proximity to Ireland and our positive working relationship with the Irish Government is not relevant, we would still have to negotiate a trade agreement with the European Commission for the EU as a whole.
Secondly, negotiating a trade agreement between the Isle of Man and the EU would likely undermine our Customs Union with the UK and mean that we would no longer have access to free movement of goods and services to and from the UK market. As over 80% of our trade is with the UK market, it would go significantly against the Island’s economic interests to take such an approach.
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.
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
Will there be any change to the Common Travel Area?
The draft Withdrawal Agreement makes provision to ensure that the Common Travel Area can continue to function. This means that passports will not be checked for travel between the UK, Ireland and the Crown Dependencies.
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 status of EU or European Economic Area (EEA) nationals in the UK/Isle of Man, as a result of the referendum. There will be no change to this status until the UK ceases to be an EU member state.
Will EU/EEA nationals living in the Isle of Man have different 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?
All information about the European Union Settlement Scheme is available at the Immigration and Nationality website
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 British passports – 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.
Why were residents of the Isle of Man not eligible to vote in the 2016 referendum?
The Isle of Man has its own political system, with its own system of elections, separate from that of the United Kingdom. Isle of Man residents are never eligible to cast a vote in any UK election or referendum, irrespective of whether the result may have an impact for the Island. In the same way, only Island residents are eligible to participate in Manx elections.
In some cases people resident on the Island may have been eligible to vote in the referendum by virtue of having recently lived in the UK and thus still having been registered to vote there by proxy or postal vote.
The residents of Gibraltar, while not residents of the UK and not ordinarily able to vote in UK elections and referenda, were able to vote in the 2016 referendum as the UK’s membership of the EU extends to include Gibraltar. This is not the case for the Isle of Man.
What should individuals and businesses involved in cross-border activities between the UK and the EU do to prepare for a scenario in which the UK leaves the EU with no deal in place?
The UK Government has now published 106 specific Technical Notices to help businesses, citizens and consumers to prepare for a 'no-deal' scenario. The Isle of Man Government has reviewed each of these notices and provided a summary of any notable impact for the Isle of Man.
The UK has also published, and is regularly updating this Partnership Pack, which provides helpful information about preparing for a ‘no-deal’ scenario.