Visas not required

for travel to the EPO

Throughout the first half of 2021, CIPA pressed the Government for official confirmation that UK patent attorneys could continue to exercise their right to act before the European Patent Office (EPO) without requiring business visas. 

After months of meetings with officials from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), CIPA finally received Government confirmation that travel by UK attorneys to the seats of the EPO in Germany and the Netherlands would be exempt from requiring visas.

This work began before 2020 had ended, with the publication of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on Christmas Eve 2020, wich left unresolved the question of whether visas would be required to exercise rights of representation at the EPO once the Brexit transition period ended on 1 January 2021.

Emergency meetings were immediately held with the IPO, MOJ and BEIS. Meetings were also held with the EPO, which conducted its own enquiries on CIPA’s behalf.

What, at times, seemed an endless series of meetings and rounds of email correspondence ended in June, when senior officials from the British embassies in Berlin and The Hague told us that both the German and Dutch governments had officially confirmed that representing clients before the EPO falls within the definition of a short-term business visit under the TCA. This means that a Schengen visa will not be required for travel up to 90 days in any rolling 180-day period.

Following further correspondence with FCDO, we provided final guidance and advice for members in October 2021.

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