Brexit Travel? Haven’t we been here before? Didn’t we do this last year?
Well yes, we did – kind of. However, that was only the beginning of the end, rather than the end itself. It marked the start of the transition period, where we began our journey to withdraw from the EU in earnest.
On December 31st 2020 we officially go our separate ways. A date, as we are all well aware, is very much upon our collective doorsteps.
So, what happens with post brexit travel?
Brexit will affect every aspect of our lives, and so to list every rule that is likely to change would take forever. Here, we will focus on how brexit will impact travel. So here goes.
Will I need a new Passport after brexit?
Your passport is valid if it has 6 months remaining when you plan to travel and is less than 10 years old. This is advised for any type of travel, although it is now required by EU countries. The UK government have set up an online tool – called ‘passport check brexit’ – to quickly check this. Answer some quick questions, then you will find out if your passport is valid for your destination.
Are the red passports valid, or do I need a blue one?
Burgundy passports will soon be phased out, replaced by the all-new blue ‘brexit passport’. The colour alone makes no difference to its validity. Both are valid for travel as long as they meet the criteria above.
What are the entry requirements to the EU?
Post brexit travellers from the UK to the EU will encounter new processes at the border. First of all, they will no longer be able to join the EU member queues at passport control. Instead, the international traveller queue will become the new route through checkpoints for UK residents.
Also, while proceeding through the checks, some new requirements will become clear. Firstly travellers will be asked to prove the existence of funds to cover:
- accommodation throughout the stay
- tickets for their onward or return journey or adequate funds to purchase one.
While no visas are required, limitations on EU visits apply. Travellers can stay 90 days in any 180-day period. Although please note that different rules apply to Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus and Croatia: visits to other EU countries do not count towards these four countries.
For longer durations a visa becomes necessary. This process is dictated by the destination country and for guidance, you should refer to the country information page on the FCDO website.
What if I have a second home in the EU?
As with other travellers, no visa is required if you are entering the country to stay for less than 90 days in any 180-day period. However, if a longer stay is intended, a visa will be required.
What about car travel to Europe after brexit?
Some additional documents are required for post brexit travel by car. Firstly, you will need to get a green card from your car insurance provider. Enquire with them to find out how you can get one, and when it will arrive once requested. Find out in plenty of time so you don’t get caught out -a minimum of 1 month is recommended.
Additionally, you will have to display a ‘GB’ sticker on your vehicle when you are travelling to EU after brexit. Even if you have a license plate identifier you will still need to display this.
For a small number of countries, an International Driving Permit will be required. Negotiations are still underway at the time of writing to decide if this will be the case. These are available from the post office for £5.50 so could be well worth the price to avoid any issues at the border.
Will I be able to take my pet to the EU with me?
Happily, yes, our pets can still enjoy a family holiday to Europe too. Even better, it will only require a visit to a vet 1 month before and no blood tests are required.
Be aware that new documentation is necessary (hence the VET visit) to prove the following:
- your animal is microchipped,
- they are vaccinated to protect from rabies,
- some countries will demand certification that your pet is vaccinated against tapeworms (tape worm-free countries)
As long as these are in place, there is no reason why you and your pet can’t gambol around Europe.
Will I need a Pet Passport for post brexit travel?
At the moment, it is unclear if pet passports will be available to UK pet-owners after Brexit. If you follow the steps above and ensure your pet has all the necessary paperwork, there will be no reason why your pet cannot enter and exit the EU with you.
Do duty-free allowances apply to EU travel after brexit?
The day after brexit travel will be subject to new duty-free laws. In other words, there will be new allowances imposed on bringing duty-free goods into Great Britain (England, Wales & Scotland). Duty-free simply means a type of product purchase that is free of import duty charges or taxes (normally VAT).
As an illustration, you can bring back the following quantities of alcohol:
- up to 42 litres of beer; and
- up to 18 litres of non-sparkling wine
As well as this you can take home one of the following:
- up to 4 litres of spirit or liquor of over 22% alcohol volume,
- up to 9 litres of fortified wine, sparkling wine or any other alcoholic drinks of under 22% alcohol volume.
This latter allowance can be split. For example, you could bring back ½ of your first allowance (e.g. 2 litres of a spirit such as brandy) and ½ of your second (e.g. 4.5 litres of fortified wine such as port or sherry).
There are further allowances for tobacco products and other goods. You can find out more on the government website.
Can I go over my EU duty-free allowance?
After brexit travel purchases can be retained as long as you pay the duty or tax charges that would usually apply, on the value over the threshold. The only exception is that you must pay the full value of any single item over the value of £390.
To make this process as convenient as possible, an online service will be launched from January 1st 2021. It will be available to all inbound UK travellers to declare goods and settle duty or tax costs ahead of custom checks in Great Britain.
Is free mobile roaming available in the EU?
Travelling with a mobile phone after brexit may be costlier than before as a deal to guarantee free mobile roaming is looking increasingly unlikely. The good news is that there will be a legal limit on the amount that can be charged on mobile data when travelling in the EU. Providers cannot charge more than £45 without the user’s explicit agreement.
This is expected to be in the form of an automated text message from the provider when the £45 limit has been reached. The message must advise this and ask the user’s consent to continue using mobile data while in the EU. Until consent is given, data services will be blocked to prevent any additional charges.
Am I entitled to free EU healthcare after brexit?
After brexit, travel with existing EHIC cards held by UK travellers will still entitle the holder to healthcare in the EU. For anyone who does not have one, or for those with expired EHIC cards, a ‘Global Health Insurance Card’ (GHIC) is now available – read our GHIC Card blog to find out more.
There will still be an entitlement to care even if none of these options is available, even if it is a slightly clunky one.
To receive care in a EU country, a provisional replacement certificate (PRC) should be sought. It is a formal confirmation by the NHS of entitlement to health care.
The NHS Overseas Healthcare Services can provide this. When you need treatment, ring them on +44 191 218 1999 with your National Insurance number and the name of the facility treating you. The certificate will then be emailed or faxed to the clinicians.
Will I need travel insurance?
Having said that, travel insurance is still essential. Even with a EHIC or equivalent, there is no cover for private healthcare (in the event that state facilities are inadequate or unavailable) and no provision for repatriation back home.
We cover this in another post, where you can read the benefits of EHIC vs Travel insurance.
Will travel insurance still cover covid in the EU?
On the subject of travel insurance, it is clear that COVID will still impact travel in 2021. Much of Europe is likely to progress strongly with aggressive vaccination programs. However, it is going to take time and it will be up to each country to decide when it is safe enough that life, and travel, can start to return to normal.
Even then, travellers will require travel insurance with Coronavirus cover to protect them in the event that they contract COVID either before or during their trip. Luckily, you are in the right place. Free Spirit offers Coronavirus cover on all policies, learn more here.