Brexit: What We Think It Means For Ski Instructors


With Brexit not too far away, many people are questioning what it will mean for BASI qualified ski instructors and the European Ski Industry as a whole.

Before the vote, we looked at both the Leave and Remain positions on topics affecting us. Now that the wheels are in motion, here’s what we think might happen next.

Right to Free Movement

The area which most industry experts agree could see the most change is how instructors live and work in Europe.
A key negotiation of the Brexit talks hinge around the right to free movement which we have enjoyed as EU citizens for the past 20 years. It is unclear currently whether this will continue. Should it cease on the 29th March 2019, it is widely believed that UK citizens will need to apply for either a country-specific or EU-wide visa.
Given thousands of people already are granted movement into countries outside the EU such as the USA, Australia, India etc it seems likely this would simply become an administrative step any holiday-maker or worker would need to take prior to travel.

Right To Work

As with the right to free movement, it is unclear how the negotiations will deal with UK citizens working in the EU. This will ultimately hinge on whether the UK is prepared to grant the same rights to EU citizens travelling to and wishing to work in the UK.

The logical conclusion is that should the right to work in the EU be rescinded, instructors would need to apply for a work visa. Again this is already common-practice for instructors wishing to work in Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc. (though age and time restrictions do apply).

With Switzerland being outside the EU, we do have some knowledge of working across the EU zone borders. Our non-Swiss instructors have to apply for work permits in Switzerland as they do not have an automatic right to work there. The permit application process is pretty straightforward though and our instructors have never been denied a permit.

Negotiating Ski Instructor Standards

In 2000 a common set of criteria were agreed for training and performance standards. This was not an EU agreement, meaning that this agreement will most likely still stand for British nationals post the UK leaving the EU. This agreement concerns the highest level of qualification in each country, so for the UK this is the BASI Level 4 ISTD.

A few years ago, the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) and International Ski Instructor Association (ISIA) then negotiated an agreement with the European Alpine nations. The group consisted of France, Austria, Italy and the UK.

According to our director Tom Saxlund;
Having been part of that negotiation process it was clear to me that each Alpine nation is very proud of their own instructor training systems – as you’d expect – but we were able to find much common ground.
The British top qualification (Level 4 ISTD) was recognised as equal to that of Austria, France and Italy.
So that means the top British qualification will be recognised in Europe post the UK leaving the EU. BASI have also issued a statement saying;
Following a recent conversation with our European snowsports counterparts, they have confirmed that, so long as BASI continues to comply with the rules and the processes as they currently stand, there will be no change to the recognition of qualifications.
So all signs indicate that full qualification framework (BASI Levels 1 to 4) will continue to be recognised in the same way as it has in previous years.

European Health Insurance Card

Something that hasn’t been discussed frequently in the media is the knock-on effect Brexit will have on medical insurance. At the moment (and until the end of the two year negotiation period), UK citizens do not need to take out medical insurance when travelling within Europe. The European Health Insurance Card currently gives UK citizens the “right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland”. 

One of the most contentious and important issues in the Brexit talks is whether Britain will stay within the European Economic Area (EEA) which is often referred to as the “single market”. Currently Norway, Switzerland and Iceland trade with the EU on this basis. Should the UK opt for a single-market deal and remain within the EEA, the EHIC will still stand. However, if the UK decides to leave the single market, it is likely travellers and workers will need to take out their own health insurance, just as they would if travelling outside of Europe.

What Does This Mean For Ski Schools?

Provided ski schools comply with the legal requirements of the countries they operate within, they should still be able to operate. The same goes for Tour Operators, Airlines and local businesses run by ex-pats.

We (New Generation) are correctly registered within each country that we operate in so will be able to continue operating whatever the outcome.

We hope therefore that the withdrawal of the UK from the EU will not discourage skiers from continuing to learn and train with us. We have worked hard to become integrated with communities we live and work within, and respect the values and laws of the countries we are lucky to ski in.


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