Travelling to the EU post-Brexit: Everything you need to know

We know that it is important for you to feel confident when travelling anywhere on holiday, that’s why we’ve compiled together everything you should know about travelling to the EU post-Brexit. As we approach the date that we are leaving the European Union what to expect travelling post-Brexit is beginning to get clearer.

Read on to find out more about the changes to travel post-Brexit and what to expect when you go on a trip to the EU from 2021 onwards.

When we leave the EU there are some changes that are going to be made that will mean you should check the following before you travel to any European country:

1. Check if you need to renew your passport

The passport requirements for UK citizens will change from the 1st January 2021. Following these rules is important, as if you do not comply then you will be unable to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. From the date of your departure, you will need your passport to:

·        Have at least 6 months left before expiry

·        Be less than ten years old, even if it has 6 months or more left until it expires

These rules do not apply for travel to Ireland. You can use your passport to travel to Ireland as long as it is valid for the entire length of your stay.

2. Make sure you have the appropriate healthcare cover

It’s important for everyone to have appropriate healthcare cover before travelling abroad to any country. 

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will still be valid post-Brexit. This card gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare whilst on holiday or on a trip to the EU. If you don’t currently own a EHIC or your EHIC has expired, they can apply for the new GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) which will be replacing the EHIC in the future. You do not need to apply for a GHIC until their current EHIC has expired. 

When you arrive at your destination and officially enter the country that you have travelled to there are a couple of things you may need to do slightly differently than when you have travelled previously to countries in the EU.

At Border Control you may need to:

·        Show a return/onward ticket

·        Prove and show you have enough money for the duration of your trip

·        Queue and present your travel documents in different lanes depending on if you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen

1. You may have to use a different queue at passport control
You will no longer be entitled to use the EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes when travelling within the EU. This may result in longer waiting times and it taking longer to cross the UK border when you are travelling home, meaning that you may need to allow extra time to get through passport control.

2. You won’t need a Visa for most EU countries
If you’re travelling within the EU or to Norway, Switzerland, Sweden or Liechtenstein for no more than 90 days in a 180-day period, you won’t need a Visa. If you are travelling to Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania or Cyprus the rules are slightly different; you could travel for 90 days within these countries and you won’t use up your 90-day allowance in the previous European and Scandinavian countries that have been mentioned. However, you will need a Visa or permit if you go over the 90-day allowance within the 180 days or if you’re travelling for business or study.

From 2022, UK nationals will have to pay for a visa waiver scheme to enable you to visit many European countries. To find out more about the visa waiver scheme, click here.

3. You may face mobile phone roaming charges
Luckily, the four main UK mobile phone providers have stated that they have no future plans to reintroduce roaming fees when you use your phone in EU countries. However, the right to free-roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein ends on the 1st January 2021. This means you can expect further charges when using your phone for calls, texts and 3-5G when using your mobile phone abroad.

The UK Government has introduced laws to help to protect customers against increased roaming charges when travelling to such countries. They have introduced a £45-a-month cap on extra mobile data usage abroad, which you can opt-in to increase. As well as the need for customers to be notified when they have reached both 80% and 100% of their data allowance respectively.

4. Your current pet passport, if you have one, will no longer be valid
Your pet passport will no longer be valid from January 1st 2021 if you got it on the existing passport scheme in England, Scotland or Wales. There hasn’t been solid rules set in place for transporting your pets to and within the EU if you are a British citizen. However, you should allow at least 4 months to travel with your animal to the EU.

The Government are aiming to get a process agreed that is similar to now, but if that cannot happen you may need to go through a more complicated process to travel your pets.

5. Duty free shopping is still available, but changing
You can still do all of your pre or post-flight duty free shopping in the airport, but from the 1st January 2021 the duty-free limits on alcohol and tobacco which apply to non-EU countries will have increased. Furthermore, sales of electronics and clothing will no longer be tax-free post-Brexit.

6. You will be covered if the travel company you booked through goes out of business
You will get refunded if you have booked your holiday through a travel company and that company goes out of business if you are a UK citizen, if your holiday is covered by ABTA/ATOL. You will also be covered if the travel company is situated in a European country, but only if that travel company targets travelers from the UK.

Your holiday will need to be covered by ABTA/ATOL for you to be entitled to a refund. To find out more about whether you and your holiday are protected, click here.

You can still claim back on payments made to travel companies by credit card. You’ll be able to claim back on payments between the values of £100-£30,000.

7. You shouldn’t experience any difference in Airport screening
When travelling and getting to the airport post-Brexit, you shouldn’t notice any difference in airport security screening to direct flights or connecting flights. If you are travelling from the UK to the EU you can board any connecting flights within EU airports without further security screening.
This also applies to Norway, Switzerland and Iceland.

8. You shouldn’t experience any differences travelling by Eurostar or Eurotunnel
You will still have the same rights as a passenger when using domestic or cross-border Eurostar rail services and the Eurotunnel post-Brexit.

The EU regulation on rail passengers’ rights has now been made UK law and it protects passengers aboard cross-border rail services.

9. Your rights remain the same when travelling by bus, coach, ferry or cruise liner post-Brexit
The EU regulation on bus, coach, ferry and cruise passengers is now UK law and will protect passengers aboard any of these services when travelling to, from and within EU countries. You should not experience any differences when travelling on these services.
  
When travelling on a cruise, the EU regulation on maritime passengers will protect passengers who go on a cruise from a UK port.

Travelling for business to the EU after the 31st December 2020 will be slightly different and there are extra actions you will need to take if you are travelling for meetings, conferences, touring art, music or providing any type of service to a business, including charities. 

Providing services in an EU country post-Brexit
Each country in the EU will have its own set of requirements that allow you to enter and provide services there for business purposes. This may include the requirement to have different documentation that enables you to enter and do business there.

GOV.UK have provided a comprehensive list of documents that outline these requirements for EU countries post-Brexit. Check the entry requirements for the country you’re visiting before you travel here.

Earning money in EU countries post-Brexit
If you’re earning money in the EU you might have to notify HMRC to pay social security contributions in the country that you’re working in. GOV.UK have provided all the information you will need to check whether or not you need to pay such fees where you work in the EU. Click here to find out if this legislation affects you.

Checking your qualifications are recognised post-Brexit
You may also need to check that your professional qualifications are recognised in EU countries. For example, if you provide legal or auditing services then you may need to get your qualification recognised if you start working in the EU post-Brexit.

If you have already been working in the EU and your qualification has already been recognised in the country in which you work, then you do not need to do anything post-Brexit as this recognition will still stand. To find out more click here.

If you are unsure whether or not you need indemnity insurance for your employees, you can check on the GOV.UK website here.

Finally, if you are taking goods into the EU for business purposes, you may need to have documentation to travel. Check you’ve got the correct documentation to take goods into the EU here.

You will still be able to drive in and around Europe as a UK citizen post-Brexit. However, you will need to make sure you have the following documents on your person at all times when driving:

·        Your Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving license

·        Your log book (V5C)

·        All valid insurance documents

·        You may need your International Driving Permit (IDP) for longer visits or a green card from your insurer in some EU countries, which can be bought from the Post Office for £5.50. Check ahead in the destination that you’re visiting to make sure you have the correct documentation with you. This legislation is subject to change as negotiations develop around Brexit.

It is important that you become familiar with the driving rules, regulations and customs of the country that you are visiting, check online to find out this information before you travel. Furthermore, you can learn more about driving in Europe on our Automotive hub page.   

You should remember that the legislation around travel post-Brexit is still being discussed and changes continue to be made between Governments. If you are interested in learning more about travelling post-Brexit, keep an eye on this page for up-to-date content surrounding this subject. Alternatively, visit the GOV.UK website to read in-depth information about Brexit and the new legislation being put in place.