Travelling in Europe Post-Brexit

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What is Brexit? 

The UK left the European Union on 31st January 2020, and the UK Government have since been in ongoing trade talks with EU member states in order to clarify the terms of the new UK-EU relationship moving forward. This period of negotiation has been referred to as the transition period. 

With the deadline to extend this transition period now having passed, all negotiations will have to be finalised and agreed upon by 31st December 2020 to avoid crashing out without a deal in place. 

Terms which are currently being discussed will impact many areas of life, including import, export and travel between the UK and other European countries. 

So, what will travelling in Europe look like after new Brexit rules come into play on 1st January 2021? 


How will Brexit affect my holidays to Europe? 

As outlined on the GOV.UK website, travel to any EU countries, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein is expected to change from 1st January 2021. 

Currently, Brexit is expected to impact several key areas of travel, there are a number of aspects which will need to be taken into consideration before travelling, including: 

  1. Passport
  2. Insurance 
  3. Driving License 
  4. Pet Travel 


Do I need to renew my passport before Brexit? 

In order to be eligible to travel after 1st January 2021, you will need to make sure that your British passport has at least 6 months’ validity remaining, and is less than 10 years old. 

You will need to renew your passport if it is more than 10 years old, even if there are 6 months or more before it is due to expire. 

If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. 

Please note: these rules do not currently apply for travel to Ireland, and you can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay. 


What will my travel insurance need to cover after Brexit? 

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will only be valid up until 31st December 2020, so it’s important to invest in appropriate travel insurance, which covers healthcare while abroad, if you intend to travel to any EU country after this date. 

Whilst the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing medical conditions, many travel insurance policies do not, so it’s imperative for those with pre-existing conditions to do the research and secure travel insurance with the right cover prior to travel. 


Will I be able to drive to EU countries after Brexit? 

Whilst you’ll still be able to travel to and between EU countries after Brexit, you may need extra documentation to complete your journey. 

In some countries, an international driving permit (IDP) may be required, and if you’re taking your own vehicle, you might also need a ‘green card’ or valid proof of insurance, and a GB sticker for your vehicle. 


Will I still be able to travel with my pet after Brexit? 

You will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme if you intend to travel to other countries in Europe after 1st January 2021. Instead, you’ll need to follow a different process, which could see your application take up to 4 months to be authorised. 

You can find out more about post-Brexit travel to EU countries with your pet by visiting the Government website


How will my experience at Border Control change after Brexit? 

When travelling to EU countries after Brexit, you can expect to see the following changes: 

  • You may be required to show a ticket for return or onward travel 
  • You may be required to show you have enough money for your stay 
  • You may be expected to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queuing 

Will I need a visa to travel to EU countries after Brexit? 

You will not need a visa if you are planning a short trip to an EU country as a tourist, and you will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa in place. 

Different rules will be applied for travel to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, and if you choose to visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total. 

A visa may be required if your stay is likely to exceed the 90-day limit, or if you intend to travel for work, study or business purposes. 

Information provided by the Government website currently indicates that travel to Ireland will not change after 1st January 2021, and you will also be able to work in Ireland the same way as before.