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UK nationals travelling to Europe post Brexit: What’s changed?

Updated: Mar 5, 2021


Flag: European Union
© Tan's Travel Club

Brexit has happened and rules have changed affecting UK nationals travelling to Europe. Let’s get info-ed up to prevent more delays and unpleasant surprises (once it's safe to get back out there again!). We’ve put together some information to make post Brexit travel as smooth as possible.


Here’s what we think you need to know.


Passports!

Post Brexit: Passport changes
© Tan's Travel Club

Your passport must be less than 10 years old and have a maximum of six months remaining before it expires. (The 6 month rule does not apply to trips to Ireland).

⚠️ Check the date CAREFULLY, especially if you do not have a passport issued within the last 12 months! You will NOT be permitted to travel if your passport is more than 10 years old even if you have 6 MONTHS remaining according to the expiry date.

Example:

Your passport was issued on 17 July 2011. Your passport expiry date says 17 December 2021. BUT, you are only permitted to travel with your passport until 17 JANUARY 2021! That’s 11 months before your expiry date!!!

At this time there are for travel no visa requirements in place to visit Europe. From 2022, UK nationals will be required to pay for a Visa waiver scheme called ETIAS when travelling to Europe. This is similar to the ESTA system .

We highly recommend you renew your passport with plenty of time to spare. All new passports issued will have an expiry date of 10 years.


Are there any new Visa requirements when travelling to Europe?

At this time there are no visa requirements in place to visit Europe. From 2022, UK nationals will be required to pay for a Visa waiver scheme called ETIAS when travelling to Europe. This is similar to the ESTA system for travel to the United States.


How long am I permitted to stay in a European country?

You are permitted to stay in the Schengen zone for a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period. Rules are diifferent for countries outside the Schengen zone, which include Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. You are allowed to visit these individual countries for 90 days without affecting your ninety-day limit within the Schengen Zone. You could therefore go to Croatia for a 90 day period and then enter the Schengen zone for a further 90 days.

The republic of Ireland is an exception to these rules and there are no restrictions on the length of stay.


⚠️ Please be aware that these rules apply even if you are a second home owner in any European country within the Schengen zone


Border controls: What's changed?

A noticeable difference will be seen in European airport passport control areas. You no longer have permission to use the EU lanes set up for fast-track / electronic passport gates even if you have a passport that caters for this. You must NOT use lanes titled EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. You will experience passport controls similar to those when travelling worldwide, outside of Europe. It may be necessary to show a return ticket and proof that you have enough money for your stay.


What about driving in Europe?

Post Brexit: Driving rules
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If you plan to hire a car or bring your own to Europe, you can continue to use your UK driving license and do not need to apply for an international driving license. However this is only the case if you have a CARD license as opposed to a paper license. If you are bringing your own car, you will need to get a green card from your insurance company before you travel. Do NOT forget to take it with you. Make sure you have valid insurance documents (paper version) with you AND your vehicle logbook (V5C). You will also need a GB sticker on your car. Check with individual countries for their own driving requirements and regulations including equipment, for example, breathalyser kits, high visibility jackets and warning triangles.


Health cover!

Europe Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will become invalid, however all cards issued before 2020 will remain valid until the expiry date. ⚠️ This does NOT include visits to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.

We highly recommend purchasing travel insurance that includes healthcare before taking a trip. The UK government has mentioned a new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) which is to be introduced, but there is no information on this at present.

⚠️ UPDATE! UK-issued Global Health Insurance Cards, GHIC, are now available. These are free and you can apply now - go to the NHS website for all information about the card and make an online application. Your card should normally arrive within 10 days. Click on the following link: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-uk-global-health-insurance-card-ghic/

BEWARE OF UNOFFICIAL SITES! No payment is required to apply for the FREE GHIC. We highly recommend you use the official NHS website.


What about taking food and drink with me into Europe?

Post Brexit: Bringing food restrictions
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You are NOT permitted to take meat or milk, or products containing these, into Europe. Exceptions to this rule include infant milk, infant food, and medical petfood.


Post Brexit: Duty Free allowance
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Duty-free rules - what can I bring back into the UK?

Duty-free rules are now the same as worldwide travel rules. You can return to the UK with 4 litres of spirits or 9 litres of sparkling wine, 18 litres of still wine, 42 litres of beer, 200 cigarettes or 500 cigars or 250 g of tobacco. You are limited to a value of £390 on all other goods.


Mobile phone charges - has roaming costs changed?

You must check with your own network provider as it is up to them! There is no longer a guarantee of free roaming charges when in Europe. However, you are protected from receiving more than £45 in mobile data charges without your knowledge! Many UK networks have said that they do not have plans to reintroduce roaming charges but we highly recommend you check!


What is the situation for my pet’s passport?

Post Brexit: Pet Passport changes
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Pet passports issued in the UK are NO LONGER valid. You must get an Animal Health Certificate from the vet 10 days before travel which is valid for four months. ⚠️ This DOES apply to visits to Ireland and Northern Ireland. Your pet is required to be micro-chipped and have a rabies vaccination before travel. In addition, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Finland and Malta require that pets must be treated against a type of tapeworm up to 10 days before travel. The UK government recommends leaving one month before travel to organise everything that's needed for your pet’s voyage!




Phew, that’s it, for now!

Enjoy planning your next European trip and hopefully when times become safer, you’ll be good to go without delay or unexpected problems.

 

We hope this helps with any post Brexit European travel queries you may have. If you have more questions, we’d be happy to help and investigate. If you have additional info that you think would be useful for other readers, please feel free to add your comments below.


Happy travelling and stay safe :)

 

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