Vaccines ahoy! It feels like the end is in sight, and we might just be able to start planning our holidays again. When we do board a plane, however, the landscape could be considerably different, and, no, we’re not talking about Covid restrictions.
For many of us, the next time we travel will be our first getaway since the Brexit deal came into place. That means some aspects of travel will look slightly different from what you’ve been used to in the past. After all, the last time the UK and the EU weren’t joined at the hip was way back in the 1970s.
So what will travelling look like post-Brexit if you’re heading to Europe, and how much will the experience change? We’ve put this handy guide together, detailing everything you need to know about visiting Europe after Brexit.
Moving between the 🇬🇧 & 🇪🇺
As of Jan 1st 2021, the way we travel to Europe has changed, and there are few important details worth noting. For starters, UK citizens need a minimum of six months validity on a passport with less than 10 years remaining if they want to travel within the EU.
Holidaymakers also have a 90-day allowance to visit the EU within any 180-day period. Those 90 days can be completed in one sitting or divided into shorter trips throughout the year. For the average traveller, this news will have minimal effect. But it could have a major impact on anyone with a second home who may want to spend long stretches away.
Changes to health insurance 🩹
Before Brexit, British citizens had a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitling them to free healthcare while in the EU. Any EHIC issued before December 2020 is still valid up until its expiry, so most Britons won’t be affected.
Once it has expired, the government plans to issue a new card called the UK Global Health Insurance Car (GHIC). It will cover a range of illnesses, both chronic and existing, as well as emergencies and routine maternity care.
There’s no news on when the card will come into circulation. And you should always look into travel insurance before going on holiday, just to be on the safe side. Holiday insurance is relatively inexpensive and provides extensive healthcare should you need it while travelling.
Data roaming 📱
Free-roaming in the EU officially came to an end on Jan 1st 2021, though most UK mobile carriers will offer roaming to their customers in some capacity. The best bet is to check with your mobile provider to see what they offer and if you could face any charges if you want to see how data roaming may affect you.
So far, Three UK, Vodafone, O2 and BT have all confirmed they won’t change free EU roaming. The EU and the UK also agreed to work together on international mobile roaming, yet there aren’t any guarantees in the trade agreement that prevents travellers from future chargers for using their phones in the EU and vice versa.
The government has passed laws to safeguard customers with a £45-a-month cap on using mobile phones abroad. And there will be requirements from carriers to inform customers when they’ve reached 80% and 100% of their data allowance.
Passport control 🛂
Unfortunately, you’ll no longer be able to use EU fast-track passport control and custom lanes when you arrive in a country. Instead, you should be prepared to show your return ticket and use the lane for other non-EU arrivals.
You may also be asked to show that you have enough money for your stay and provide proof of where you’re staying and for how long. Crossing the UK border may take longer too. These rules apply to all Eu countries with the expectation of Ireland.
Holidays with pets 🐕 🐈
Pet passports issued in Great Britain from Jan 1st 2021 won’t be valid for travel in the EU, with all travelling animals needing an animal health certificate (ACH). This also applies if you’re taking your little four-legged friend into Northern Ireland.
In order to obtain an ACH, you will need to visit a vet who will issue a certificate valid for four months. The ACH also needs to be granted 10 days before travel and is valid for a single trip into the EU, as well as onward travel within the EU and re-entry to Great Britain. Your pet also needs to be microchipped and have a rabies vaccination.
Driving in Europe 🚗
Not all trips to Europe require a plane, and millions of people use their car to get abroad. Fortunately, you will still be able to drive in Europe. Just make sure that you take your driving licence and logbook (V5C) along with valid insurance documents if using your own car.
Travellers planning on driving will also need a green card, which should be obtained six weeks before your holiday date. You can get the card from your insurer. Failure to do so could see you paying a hefty fine and disqualified from driving your car in Europe.
What about business travel? 💼
Business travel across Europe is necessary for many organisations, and post-Brexit, there’s likely to be some changes. Depending on the country you visit and your reason for business, UK passport holders may need to apply for permits. The same goes for EU business travellers coming into the UK.
Activities like conferences, meetings, sales trips and commercial transactions are exempt, and things will very much be business as usual. But it’s still worth checking if you need a permit before you pack your bags for a business trip.
Take me away for a holiday 🛫
There’s no doubt that we’ll all need to adapt to a few changes here and then when travelling around the EU from now on. But other than potentially waiting a little longer in line at the airport, don’t expect fundamental changes. Most European countries (and the UK too) rely on tourism as a major part of their economy. Countries all around Europe will be ready to welcome UK travellers with open arms once Covid restrictions are lifted.