Brexit Advice for UK Travel 

By  Enda

UK Travel Tips after Brexit

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, once we get past the Covid 19 pandemic. 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.

General Information

  1. If you are going on holiday to Europe you will not need a visa for short trips to Europe. However, from 2022 (the exact date is yet to be confirmed), you will have to buy a visa waiver for holidays and short stays in the EU. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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)
  4. When going through passport control you will not be able to use the EU or EEA lanes. (It is likely that different airports will manage their passport controls depending on flow)
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

Valid Passport

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.

Pet Passports

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.

Valid Insurance

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

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. So far, they have said they will not be introducing charges, but it would be wise to check before any trip as that may change.

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

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. 

Limits on tobacco and alcohol will increase.

There will no longer be tax-free airport sales of goods like electronics and clothing.

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.

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