UK Travel Tips after Brexit 2024
The United Kingdom left the European Union on the 31st December 2020. That changes the way people from the UK can travel. In particular, it changes the way that people living in Great Britain can now travel to Europe. Please note the Great Britain refers to people living in England, Scotland and Wales. Different rules apply to Northern Ireland as explained in the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Travelling to Europe
Europe will likely remain the number one holiday destination for UK travellers. Travel to Europe will be very different from 1 January 2021, so we think it is important that you plan early to make sure you have everything in place in time for your holiday trip. Below we have listed a number of tips that we know will help you make a better holiday plan.
- If you are going on holiday to Europe you will not need a visa for short trips to Europe. However, from mid 2025 (the exact date is yet to be confirmed), you will have to buy a visa waiver for holidays and short stays in the EU. ETIAS has been delayed alongside EES but has been scheduled to come into operation a few months after EES. This is not a visa but a permission to enter. It will cost €7 (£6.29) and will be issued under the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, similar to the Esta permit currently required to visit the US.
- UK passport holders can spend up to 90 days during any 180-day period. This can be in a series of short visits or one long visit, It applies to all EU countries with the exception of the non-Schengen countries. Those countries are Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. You can also travel to Ireland, which allows unrestricted travel from the UK as part of a common travel area for British nationals. You could make a 90-day trip to any of them and still not use up your 90-day allowance for other EU countries.
- At the border control of the visited country you may be asked to show a return ticket and that you have enough money for your stay. (except Ireland)
- When going through passport control you will not be able to use the EU or EEA lanes. (It is likely that different airports in Europe will manage their passport controls depending on flow)
- Travellers returning from the EU will be restricted to 18 litres of wine (24 bottles), 42 litres of beer and 4 litres of spirits or liqueurs over 22% in alcohol – plus up to 200 cigarettes.
- You won’t be able to take any meat, milk or any products containing these items into the EU. There are exceptions for powdered baby milk, baby food, or pet food required for medical reasons.
- You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.
If you have a British passport, you will need to have at least 6 months left on your passport. In addition to that the passport must have been issued within the last 10 years.
The six-month rule won't apply for visits to Ireland, because it is part of the Common Travel Area.
If you need a new passport, which will be a different colour, the government says you should apply in plenty of time.
You can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland. You can still use a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland.
In other words, pet passports are no longer valid. You will now require an "Animal Health Certificate." In addition your pet will need to be mircro-chipped and vaccinated against rabies. If you wish to take your pet abroad you should speak to your vet in advance to make sure you have these in place before you are due to travel.
These requirements also apply to assistance dogs.
Your pet will need a new animal health certificate for each trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland.
It is really important that travellers take out comprehensive travel insurance with sufficient healthcare cover. That cover should include any existing medical conditions and for any planned activities.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) has entitled UK citizens to state-provided medical treatment if they fall ill or have an accident in EU countries, as well as a number of others.
If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will be valid up to its expiry date.( this date can be easily found on the front of your card)
The UK government has said it plans to introduce a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) but as of now, no details are available.
Some people can apply for a new UK EHIC that they can continue to use from 1 January 2021 in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. People who can apply for the new card include:
- UK students studying in the EU
- Some British State Pensioners who live in the EU and their families
- EU nationals in the UK
The Right Driving Documentation
Driving Licence - you'll need to take your driving licence, as well as your log book (V5C) and valid insurance documents if you are taking your own car.
Green Insurance Cards - If you wish to drive your own car in Europe, you will need to obtain and carry a physical Green Card for your UK car insurance. These cards will be available from your car insurance provider. (You may be charged a small fee to cover administration costs). The ABI advises you apply for a Green Card at least a month before you are due to travel. You may also need a Green Card for your trailer or caravan, so check with your insurer.
GB Car Stickers - You will need a GB sticker for your own car when driving in the EU.
Driving Permits - If you have a paper licence or your driving licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man you may need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries and Norway from 1 January 2021. These are available from the Post Office.
Northern Irish drivers who enter the Republic of Ireland will also need a green insurance card.
Roaming Charges in the EU 2024
Rules around mobile data roaming are changing meaning you "may" face charges when using your phone abroad, including for making calls, sending messages or using the internet.
YOU should check with your mobile phone provider about their data roaming policy. 'Roaming' is the name used when your phone connects to a mobile network in another country. As of 2024, three of the major providers (EE, Vodafone and Three) have re-introduced roaming charges.
The government has passed laws to protect customers, including:
- A £45-a-month cap on using mobile data abroad (then you must opt in to use more)
- Requirements for customers to be informed when they've reached 80% and 100% of their data allowance.
Mobile Network Provider
£2.29/day (or £25/month) for contracts.
£2/day for contracts. None for pay-as-you-go
£2.25/day (or £10 for 8 days or £15 for 15 days) for contracts.
Varies by which plan you have
£2 per day
No Set Limit
£2.25/day, £10 for 8 days, £15 for 15 days
Varies by which plan you have
NONE (Changing in 2025)
Varies by which plan you have
£2.25 a day for 1 day, £4 for 2 days, £10 for 8 days, or £15 for 15 days
Most mobile companies limit the amount of data you can use abroad. All Tesco pay-monthly and pay-as-you-go customers, including new customers, will be able to use their call, text and data allowances in 48 European destinations at no extra cost until 2025.
Can You Buy Duty Free?
British passengers from Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) travelling to EU countries can take advantage of duty-free shopping from January 2021.
Duty free tobacco and alcohol is now available to all passengers leaving the UK. (18 years and over)
- 200 cigarettes
- 100 cigarillos
- 50 cigars
- 250g tobacco
- or 200 sticks of tobacco for electronic heated tobacco devices.
- Beer - 42 litres
- Still Wine - 18 litres
Passengers can also bring in either
- Spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol - 4 litres
- Sparkling wine, fortified wine (for example port, sherry) and other alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol (not including beer or still wine) - 9 litres.
Passengers can bring in other goods worth up to £390.
- If passengers go over their allowance they pay tax and duty on the total value of the goods, not just the value above the allowance.
- Passengers may have to pay import VAT and customs duty if they exceed their allowance.
What is Different for Northern Ireland?
As part of the agreed Northern Ireland protocol, the following information applies.
Whilst Northern Ireland will no longer be part of the EU, people born and raised here, that choose to be Irish citizens will still be EU citizens. This means they can continue to move and reside freely within the EU.
Those who exercise that right will retain their EU citizenship, something not available to people elsewhere in the UK who may have only British citizenship.
People travelling on Irish passports will be able to use EU/EEA lanes and e-gates at airports whereas those with British passports will not.
Useful UK Travel Links
Check a Passport for travel to Europe - (You will need to know when your passport was issued, when it expires and the date that you plan to travel.)
Foreign Travel Advice - This lists the current travel advice to any country. Please note that there are different rules that apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Pet travel: to and from Great Britain - You can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland. You can still use a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland.
Applying for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) - You do not need to apply for a GHIC if you already have an EHIC. Your EHIC remains valid in the EU until it expires.
European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) - will be a largely automated IT system created to identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen States. Non-EU nationals who do not need a visa to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply for a travel authorisation through the ETIAS system prior to their trip.