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Brexit: Travelling into Europe after 1 January 2021

With the end of the Brexit transition period almost upon us, there are understandably many questions and much uncertainty about UK travellers will be affected.

There will be new rules and regulations to travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein from 1 January 2021.

We have put together the very latest advice and guidance on Brexit that we are advising clients.

1) Do I need to renew my passport?

If you’re travelling to the EU from 1 January 2021, you may need to renew your passport earlier, as it will need to be less than ten years old (even if it has six months or more left) and it will need to have at least six months left validity. To check the requirements for different countries, please visit:

These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport providing it is valid for the length of your stay.

If your passport is burgundy or has ‘European Union’ on the cover, you can continue to use it until it expires.

Due to the current challenges of Covid-19, the waiting time for processing passport renewals is longer than 3 weeks, so please allow sufficient time for the application. To renew a passport, please visit:

2) Will I need a VISA to travel into the EU?

If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Brussels has said that British visitors will be visa-exempt 'third-country nationals' initially, which means that there’s no need for an application in advance.

Within a couple of years, British citizens will be subject to the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which the EU is working to impose no later than 2022. To read more about this visa scheme, please visit:

At border control in the EU, you may need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket

  • show you have enough money for your stay

  • use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing

3) If I want to drive to EU countries, will I need to get another driving licence?

A British driving licence will continue to be classed as a Europe-wide permit until the end of 2020. After that, it is possible that some EU countries will insist on an International Driving Permit.

Full details about International Driving Permits, including what permit you need for each country, can be found here:

There are a number of different permits available for different countries within the EU, so you should check carefully which permit is required for each country you intend to drive within, as you may need more than one permit to comply with the law.

If required, International Driving Permits cost £5.50 and are available directly from the Post Office.

The government is also advising that you will need a GB sticker for your car when driving in the EU after Brexit.

If you’re taking your own vehicle, you might also need a ‘green card’ - a certificate extending the travel insurance to the minimum legal requirements in EU countries, which will be provided by the car insurance company.

4) Will I still get free health care?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country. Your EHIC is valid only up to 31 December 2020.

We have always advised holidaymakers to make sure they have appropriate travel insurance, whether they have an EHIC card or not, as there are limitations to EHIC.

When travelling in the EU and beyond, it is important travellers take out travel insurance and check that it covers their current circumstances, including any medical conditions.

If you have an annual policy, make sure you check the Terms and Conditions and contact your insurance provider if you’re not sure.

5) If I already have travel insurance in place, will this cease to be valid after 1 January 2021?

Some travel insurance policies only cover certain types of disruption. Check your provider’s terms and conditions to make sure you have the cover you need if your travel is cancelled or delayed.

Your consumer rights will not change from 1 January 2021. This means that if your travel is cancelled or delayed, you may be able to claim a refund or compensation. Check your booking’s terms and conditions to find out more.

6) What are the new rules with regards to mobile roaming?

Under EU rules, the cost of making calls, sending messages or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same in the UK. If the UK leaves without a deal, these rules will no longer apply, However, some UK companies have said they may continue to offer this benefit to their customers.

Before travel, holidaymakers should check with their mobile phone provider about the costs of using their phone in the EU.

A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing. Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.

7) What are the new rules on taking my pet abroad?

From 1 January 2021, you will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme.

Instead, you will need to follow a different process, which takes four months.

For full guidance on pet travel to Europe from 1 January 2021, please visit:

Obviously, things will continue to change as 2021 approaches. We will update any significant developments accordingly.


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