BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Prime Minister Theresa May has triggered Britain's withdrawal from the European Union under Article 50 of the EU treaty on Wednesday. It should be out in two years.
Here is a timeline, based on a mixture of public information and estimations by EU sources:
Wednesday, March 29 - Britain's EU ambassador delivered a letter from May to European Council President Donald Tusk, confirming the plan to leave and formally launching the process, nine months after Britons voted in a referendum on June 23.
SUMMIT, GUIDELINES, RECOMMENDATIONS
Friday, March 31 - Around 9 a.m. (0700 GMT) Tusk will send the 27 other states draft negotiating guidelines. Brussels envoys of the 27 meet in Brussels at 0730 GMT to study the draft, and Tusk will outline his views in Malta around 0745 GMT.
April 11 - Government EU advisers -- sherpas -- from the 27 are expected to meet in Brussels to revise the guidelines. They are expected to meet again on April 24 for further revisions.
April 27 - EU affairs ministers of the 27 - the General Affairs Council or GAC - meet in Luxembourg to prepare EU27 summit.
Saturday, April 29 - EU27 leaders meet in Brussels to agree guidelines and mandate Frenchman Michel Barnier, a former European Commissioner, as chief negotiator.
Wednesday, May 3 - After May Day holiday, Barnier likely to go back to Council with his recommendations for how negotiations should be structured, seeking the governments' approval.
May 22 - The GAC meets, again excluding Britain, to agree legal "negotiating directives" to bind Barnier. This is the full mandate that will let Barnier open negotiations in Brussels.
FACE TO FACE
Early June - Finally, nearly a year after the referendum, British negotiators led by Brexit Secretary David Davis will sit down with Barnier's EU team. Barnier reckons it will be in early June after governments sign off on his negotiating mandate.
However, "talks about talks" may get under way weeks earlier. Both sides can save time by fixing procedural arrangements -- who will meet whom where, speaking what language, and so on.
THE DIVORCE DEAL
December 2017 - Brussels wants a basic deal on a Withdrawal Treaty by year's end. Key issues: the exit bill for Britain's outstanding commitments; treatment of British and EU expats; dealing with outstanding EU legal cases; new border rules.
TRANSITION TO FUTURE RELATIONSHIP
2018 - May wants to negotiate a comprehensive free trade deal. Few see two years as enough time to agree one and Brussels wants to hold off starting talks until a divorce deal is clear. But London and some states may push for some discussion of the future relationship, if only to clarify how the exit will work.
Oct-Nov 2018 - Barnier's target to finalize the Withdrawal Treaty, to give time for ratification by the European Parliament and a majority in the European Council by March 2019.
Autumn 2018 to Spring 2019 - Just to make it complicated, the Scottish government wants an independence vote once a Brexit deal is clear. But, May has so far rejected the call for a new Scottish referendum until after Britain leaves the EU.
Friday, March 29, 2019 - Barring surprises, Britain leaves at midnight, at the end of the last business day of the quarter.
A PERIOD OF TRANSITION
May and EU leaders say transitional arrangements may well be needed, to allow more time to agree a future trade deal and give people and businesses time to adjust to the divorce. Many see another two to five years after Brexit for a final settlement.
If Scotland votes for independence, expect more years to negotiate its split from London and possible re-entry to the EU.
(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald and Jan Strupczewski; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)