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Dorset and Brexit: The UK's exit from the EU

On 23 June 2016 the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU), via a nationwide referendum.

Nationally 52% of voters opted to leave the EU. In the Dorset Council area, 56% of voters opted to leave, 44% remain. 

In preparation for the UK’s exit from the EU, Dorset Council has set up two Brexit groups – one strategy group and one operations group. These two groups have been meeting regularly to ensure Dorset Council is taking all the necessary steps to prepare locally for the UKs exit from the EU. The groups include representatives from across the organisation and work collaboratively with external partners to understand the challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit. 

The groups aim to:

  • ensure robust business continuity plans are in place across the organisation to safeguard the continuation of critical services to residents
  • examine the potential economic and social impact of leaving without a deal on communities in Dorset
  • support residents and businesses through the process of the UK leaving the EU
  • work with partners to ensure effective community tension monitoring systems are in place and provide reassurance that Dorset remains an open and tolerant place to live and work
  • protect Dorset’s reputation as a place that is open for business and can attract international investment
  • ensure that risks are managed to an acceptable level, through regular review of the risk register

How we are preparing for Brexit

While we legally leave the EU on 31 January 2020, you are unlikely to notice much difference until the end of the transition period which is currently 31 December 2020.  If a trade deal is agreed by 31 December 2020, this deal would take effect immediately on 1 January 2021. Please see our frequently asked questions for information on what will happen if no deal is agreed by 31 December 2020.

Information for EU residents living or working in Dorset

The UK government has reached an agreement with the EU that will protect the rights of EU citizens and their family members living in the UK. It has also reached an agreement with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, and a separate agreement with Switzerland.

These agreements mean that most citizens from the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland will need to apply to stay in the UK. They can then continue living their lives here as they do now.

Apply for settled or pre-settled status

If you’re an EU, European Economic Area (EEA) or Swiss citizen, and would like to continue living and working in the UK, you and your family can apply for free to the EU Settlement Scheme. The EEA includes the EU countries and also Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The deadline for applications to the EU Settlement Scheme is 30 June 2021. Apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (settled and pre-settled status)

EUSS Drop-in sessions

These free drop-in sessions are open to the public to help with issues & questions involving the European Union Settlement Scheme.

Weymouth Library

6 February, 2pm to 5pm

20 February, 2pm to 5pm

5 March, 2pm to 5pm

19 March, 2pm to 5pm

Bridport Citizens Advice

31 January, 10am to 3pm

28 February, 10am to 3pm

27 March, 10am to 3pm

Dorchester Library

30 January, 1pm to 4pm

13 February, 1pm to 4pm

27 February, 1pm to 4pm

12 March, 1pm to 4pm

26 March, 1pm to 4pm

Swanage Children's Centre

11 February, 10am to 1pm

10 March, 10am to 1pm

Blandford Parish Centre

4 February, midday to 3pm

3 March, midday to 3pm

Blandford Library

29 February, 10am to midday

Wimborne Library

8 February, 10am to 2pm

Shaftesbury Library

22 February, 9.30am to 12.30pm

Portland Library

22 February, 10.30am to midday

28 March, 10.30am to midday

Businesses and self-employed

If you are a business owner and trade any goods or services with the EU you’ll need to get ready for Brexit.

For example, you need to take action if you:

  • export goods to the EU
  • import goods from the EU
  • transport goods by road
  • export animals or animal products

Find out how to prepare your business for Brexit

The Brexit Advice Service based in Dorset Chamber is open to all Dorset businesses and provides information, solutions and signposts to relevant advice and guidance. Dorset Chamber is also able to offer export-focused Brexit advice. For further information email or telephone 01202 714800.

Other sources of information and advice

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council’s Citizens Advice is working to support vulnerable EU citizens across Dorset, by offering help with applications to the EU Settlement Scheme. For details of local support available to help people claim settled status, email

Advice can also be found at Dorset Race Equality Council

All the latest government guidance on how the UK is preparing to exit the EU 

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