No grants and pet travel fees: UK’s post-Brexit status ‘is costing us’

Three Connexion readers' experiences of the changes caused by the UK’s ‘third country’ status since Brexit on January 1

30 March 2021
By Liv Rowland

£200 to bring our dogs to France every time we visit

Murray Kent, 75, from Wiltshire, wrote of his “shock and disbelief ” at the cost of future trips to France with his two springer spaniels.

The retired farmer said he has travelled with his dogs since he and his wife bought a second home in the Pays Basque in 2003. They sold it in 2019 but bought another closer to home, in Manche.

Since January 1, British EU pet passports are no longer valid. Instead, UK pet-owners must visit a vet for an animal health certificate (AHC), valid for up to four months for a single trip, onward travel in the EU and re-entry.

Mr Kent said that for his next trip, when travel restrictions ease, he was quoted £154.67 for the first dog and £44.54 for the second, an average of almost £100 per dog. “My now-defunct pet passport cost £60 per dog and was valid until 28 journeys had been taken, which works out at £2.14 per trip,” he said.

Mr Kent told The Connexion: “We had hoped to spend the full amount of time there that we are allowed now we are out of the EU [90 days in every 180-day period].

“Now we will try to stay as long as possible at a time so as to maximise the AHCs.

“The information required is exactly the same as the information on the pet passport, so I feel hacked off about this.

“I wrote to my MP but got a bland reply. He said the rules ‘do not seem onerous’ – he must have deeper pockets than me.”

Mr Kent said he urges readers to contact their MPs over this “iniquitous cost”.

“We’ll pay, our dogs are very much part of the family and we wouldn’t leave them, but if we had known what was coming, we might have thought harder before we bought our new house in France.

No more French maintenance grants to study at English universities

Franco-British lycée student Becky Curtis says she is disappointed she may not have a French university maintenance grant for study in the UK because of new rules.

Becky, 17, who lives with her mother in the southern French Alps, has a place at a university in south-west England this autumn to start a film production degree and had hoped to qualify for a means-tested grant of around €5,000 per year.

Grant applications are made between the January and May before students plan to start their courses.

However, having applied on MesServices.etudiant.gouv.fr, Becky was told: “Concerning your right to a grant for studies at a British university, only students of French nationality or of an EU or EEA nationality who are studying at a UK university after having begun them in France may have a ‘social’ grant in 2021-2022.

“As a result, you cannot start your studies directly in the UK.”

She said: “Because of Brexit, they have this new rule that you can’t get anything, whereas with other [European] countries you can. Or at least you can, but you first have to do one year of study with a grant in France.

“Now I’ll probably need quite a few loans. It would have been a nice help to have the grant.

“It’s going to take a long time to pay loans off and if I’d had a grant, I’d have had an easier start and wouldn’t have to find a part-time job immediately.”

She added: “I could have understood more if they had a rule that there are no grants for England now because it’s not in the EU but to say you can have one if you start in France first just seems childish.”

The Higher Education Ministry confirmed to The Connexion that this is due to these rules first published in 2019, which align with what Becky was told.

They say, with regard to a grant for study at a university in another Council of Europe state (a body to which the UK still belongs):

  • It is only possible for French, EU, EEA or Swiss students;
  • It can apply to study in the EU, EEA or Switzerland, or in countries that signed a 1960 treaty on maintaining grants for students pursuing their studies abroad. This was a Council of Europe treaty, to which the UK signed up.

However, in this case, the person must be continuing higher education in the foreign country after first starting it in France, the rules say.

The possibility of a French social grant to study in the UK is therefore no longer possible for those of only British nationality, and not possible at all unless you have already done higher education in France.

Young Britons in France would, however, still qualify for grants to study in France.

The UK does not offer university grants but young people from expatriate British families in France may, under certain conditions, obtain both a British tuition fee loan and a maintenance loan, and also pay lower ‘home’ fees, as opposed to ‘international’ ones (these do not apply to those of only an EU nationality).

This applies for courses starting before 2028 and the person must have been living in the EU/ EEA/Switzerland before 2021 and have lived there for the last three years.

Becky has been able to apply to her chosen UK universities for the ‘home fee’ status, which means £9,250/year (and the right to loans) as opposed to £24,700/ per year international fee.

€78 fee levied for delivery of glasses that cost £150 on UK website

Zoe Stimpson, from Hérault, said an order of four pairs of glasses from a UK firm for a price of £150.20 ended up costing an extra €78.

She said the problem arose because import VAT and fees were calculated on the value of the goods before a discount which the company had offered.

She said: “After they were dispatched, I got an email from delivery firm UPS saying that I had a €78 fee to pay.

“I knew there would be a fee but I thought it would be a lot more proportional. I queried the fees with UPS here in France and they said they would get back to me about it, but they never did.

“I paid, as I wanted to receive the parcel.”

She said she realised where the high fee came from after studying the invoice, which showed €53 of import VAT, as well as €7 of customs fees and an administrative fee for expenses.

“I can see that they have used the value of the goods as €250.27 but they only actually cost £150.20. The price that I paid was heavily reduced due to an offer that Glasses Direct was running; a two for one deal.

“The value that is quoted on the invoice must be the recommended retail price value, which I certainly didn’t pay.

“I have heard from a friend who had phoned Glasses Direct that this is the value of the glasses before discounts and that Glasses Direct has now stopped shipping to Europe until all of this is clarified.”

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