Travel After Brexit

Passports

Your current passport will be valid as long as it is less than 10 years old and has six months validity left before it runs out.

(The six-month rule won’t apply for visits to Ireland, because it is part of the Common Travel Area (CTA), a long-standing arrangement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies (Bailiwick of Jersey, Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man) and Ireland that pre-dates both British and Irish membership of the EU and is not dependent on it.

Under the CTA, British and Irish citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and privileges, including the right to work, study and vote in certain elections, as well as to access social welfare benefits and health services.

The UK and Irish governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in May 2019 reaffirming our commitment to maintain the CTA, and the associated rights and privileges, in all circumstances.)

Length of Stay

You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

The rules for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are different. You could make a 90-day trip to any of them and still not use up your 90-day allowance for other EU countries. And you can stay in the Republic of Ireland for as long as you like.

But note that the 90-day rule still apply if I own a second-home in the EU

Visas

You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel – this will vary by country. 

And note that from 2022, UK nationals will have to pay for an Etias (European Travel Information and Authorization System), an electronic system similar to an Esta (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) as part of a visa-waiver scheme in order to visit many European countries.

Health Cover

All EHICs (European Health Insurance Cards) issued before the end of 2020 will be valid until their expiry date within the EU, but not in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

The Government has said it will issue a new card, called a GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card). Like EHIC, it will cover chronic or existing illnesses, routine maternity care and emergencies. However, there are no further details yet on when it will start or which countries it will apply to.

You should always get travel insurance with appropriate healthcare cover before you go abroad. It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not. 

Goods

You cannot take meat, milk or any products containing them into EU countries. You may need a certificate to take certain plants and plant products into EU countries. 

Drivers

You’ll need to take your photocard driving licence. If taking your own vehicle you’ll need its log book (V5C) and valid insurance documents. You will need to contact your insurer six weeks before you travel to get a Green Card that will prove you have insurance. It will need to be carried as a physical document, not electronic. Note that caravans will need an extra Green Card.

Most drivers will not need to buy an International Driving Permit, with the exception of those with licences issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, who will need one for some European countries.

Pets

Pet passports issued in Great Britain will no longer be valid. Instead, you will need to get an AHC (Animal Health Certificate) from your vet each time you travel. Note this also applies if you are taking your pet to Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland. AHCs will be valid for four months and must be obtained 10 days before travel. You need to allow at least 4 months to arrange.

Your pet must have been microchipped and have had a rabies vaccination.

In addition, for entry into NI, Ireland, Finland and Malta pet dogs need to have been treated against a type of tapeworm one to five days before arrival.

Roaming

From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end. Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.

Border Control

You’ll no longer be able to use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes even if you do have a burgundy passport – although some countries who rely on UK tourism (e.g. Portugal and Spain) have said they may set up special arrangements.

Expect extra checks at passport control similar to those we have had travelling to countries outside of the EU. You may be asked the purpose of your visit, to show your return ticket, and even to prove you have enough money for your stay.

Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.

You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

Duty Free

Limits will now be the same as bringing back from the rest of the world. You’ll be able to bring back 4 litres of spirits or 9 litres of sparkling wine, 18 litres of still wine, and 16 litres of beer. The limit on duty-free cigarettes will be 200, and there will be a limit of £390 on all other goods.

Providers will be free to impose whatever fees they wish as the UK will no longer fall under the EU ban on roaming charges.

Consumer Rights

if your travel is disrupted, or if your travel company goes out of business, you will still be protected if you buy a package holiday – even if it’s an EU company, as long as the company targets UK customers.

Otherwise, you can claim compensation if you used your credit card. You’ll continue to be able to claim for payments between £100 and £30,000.

Before you leave for the airport, check online for the latest travel information and scheduled services.