So, how are we feeling about Brexit, now the flag-waving and fireworks have stopped? Now the souvenir tea towels and 50p coins have been packed away? We’re yet to see what impact Brexit will have on our daily lives but travel across Europe has naturally been a concern for those of us that regularly enjoy the freedom that our EU passports have given us.
With a transition period in place until the end of 2020, not much changes straight away. But during this time decisions will need to made about key issues such as healthcare, driving abroad, travelling with pets, entry fees and those all important burgundy passports.
During the transition period, the free movement law will still apply. Which means that for the time being, we’re still able to travel freely between EU countries. We’ll also still be able to use the EU passport gate at immigration.
Freedom of movement however is likely to be restricted from 2021 meaning stricter border controls, more immigration checks and removal of the flexibility to work in the UK for EU citizens. UK citizens will have to use a separate passport lane from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens, and may have to show proof of a return/onward ticket and of money available during their trip.
After the transition period ends, it is possible that UK citizens travelling to Europe will need to buy a £6 visa-waiver. This will allow visitors to travel across Schengen areas without a visa. Similar to the ESTA required to visit the United States, this will be valid for a three year period, not per trip. Stays of 90 days or more are still to be discussed
Travellers will still be able to claim compensation for flight delays of three hours or more. This EU ruling was written into UK law. This should apply even if you’re travelling to a non-EU country but connecting in Europe
Your European Health Insurance Card will remain valid throughout the transition period. This entitles you to local healthcare at the same cost as residents, should you require it throughout the EU and other participating European countries.
However, the EHIC’s future after 1st January 2021 is unknown. EHIC has never been a replacement for travel insurance, but going forward making sure that you have adequate insurance to cover medical emergencies will be even more vital.
The Government have announced that travellers will require at least six months left on their passport to visit from 1st January 2021. The passport must also be less than 10 years old from the date of issue. Passports can take up to a month to arrive so make sure that you renew at least seven months prior to travelling to Europe.
If you’re renewing your passport, it’ll be a blue one you receive, without the words European Union on the front. But burgundy passport holders can continue to use theirs as long as they meet the criteria above.
During 2020, you can still travel to EU countries right up until your expiry date.
During the transition period, you will still use your UK data allowance abroad, and will not be charged any extra. However, it’s likely that roaming charges will be reintroduced in 2021. The EU’s “Roam Like at Home” rules will no longer apply. Individual phone operators will be able to introduce their own policies. The Government has agreed to a data usage cap, similar to that which is currently in place, meaning that users will be unable to exceed mobile data charges of £45 without opting in.
Until the end of 2020 you’ll still be able to take your pets abroad under the EU Pet Travel Scheme. This means that they have a valid EU pet passport and meet the required criteria with regards to vaccinations and microchipping. But from January 2021, UK citizens and their furry companions will no longer be able to travel under this scheme. The future of pet travel is subject to negotiations, and could potentially involve increased red tape and additional health checks. It may take up to four months to prepare to take your pet abroad.
Like most of these issues, nothing changes in 2020. But driving in Europe may require an International Driving Permit from January 2021, which costs around £5.50. Different countries may require different permits, so it could be costly if you’re planning a multi-country road trip.
If you’re taking your own vehicle abroad then you will need to obtain permission from your insurer to do so. This will be issued as a “green card”. The government expect this to take about a month to be issued so will need to be arranged in advance. You will also have to display a GB sticker.
In summary, things you may need to do after the transition period include:
For those that are used to travelling outside of Europe, some of these checks are quite normal. Certain countries have always required a certain validity period on your passport, or a visa to exit or enter. But it’s likely that these conditions will now extend to our European neighbours.
Sadly it looks like travelling to Europe will become more difficult and more expensive for some post-transition period. We’ve always enjoyed the benefits of having so many different cultures, languages, architectural styles and cuisines just a short flight away. But added red tape may well mean many travellers look at alternative destinations. How will Brexit affect your travel plans for 2021? Are you planning more UK staycations? Travelling further afield? Or will you continue to travel to Europe regardless?
Source data from https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021