How has Brexit affected travel?

Updated advice following Brexit and the new rules to travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein from 1st January 2021.

Below we have put together the latest advice and guidance on Brexit and we seek to address common questions we are being asked by our customers.

1. Do I need to renew my passport? 

From 1st January 2021, you will need your passport to be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left) and it will need to have at least 6 months validity. To check the requirements for different countries, please check here: Do I need to renew my passport?

These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport as long as it’s 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 follow this link: Renew your passport.

There are now additional requirements for Business Travellers, eg: those attending conferences or meetings, providing services (even for charity) and touring art or music.

2. Do I now need a VISA to travel into the EU? 

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

Different rules apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus & Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries do not count towards the 90-day total.

You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or to study, or for business travel (see separate point below).

For the short term, Brussels has said that British visitors will be visa-exempt 'third-country nationals', which means that there’s no need for an application in advance. But 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 follow this link: Authorisation to travel across the EU.

Check each country’s travel advice page for information on how to get a visa or permit.

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. Business Travel: Extra requirements

As well as the usual requirements to travel to the EU on business, eg: checking your passport, travel insurance & driving documents, there are now further measures to take into account following the UK’s exit from the EU:

Nb: Business travel includes activities such as travelling for meetings & conferences, providing services (including for charity) and touring art or music.

Entry requirements

If you are travelling to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein for less than 90 days in a 180 day period, you may be able to do so without obtaining a visa or work permit in some cases, for example if you are attending a business meeting.

You may need a visa, work permit or other documentation if you are planning to stay longer than 90 days in a 180 day period or if you are:

· Transferring from the UK branch of a company to a branch in a different country (intra-corporate transfer), even for a short time period.

· Carrying out contracts to provide a service to a client in another country in which you employer has no presence.

· Providing services in another country as a self employed person.

Further information on the entry requirements (eg: visas & work permits) and rules of the country you are visiting can be found here.

4. If I want to drive in an EU country, 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 & Norway will require an International Driving Permit (IDP) , for example if you have:

· A paper driving licence

· A licence issued in Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man

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.

Check with the embassy of the country you will be driving in.

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

If taking your own vehicle to Europe, you will need a GB sticker for your car and a Green Card - a certificate extending the travel insurance to the minimum legal requirements in EU countries, which will be provided by your car insurance company.

5. Healthcare - Check that you are covered.

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) are both valid if you are travelling to an EU country.

You can use UK passports to access medically necessary healthcare in Norway; eg: in case of emergencies or to treat pre-existing conditions.

We advise all travellers to ensure they have appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before travel, whether they have an EHIC / GHIC card or not, as there are limitations to these cards. It is also important to make sure travel insurance polices cover any pre-existing conditions that were previously covered by the EHIC.

If you have an annual travel insurance policy, check the Terms & Conditions with your provider to make sure all medical aspects previously covered are still in place following Brexit.

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.

UK-issued EHICS after 1 January 2021

There are some people that can continue to apply for a new EHIC card after 1 January 2021 for use in the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland & Liechtenstein. These include:

· UK students studying in the EU

· Some British State Pensioners who live in the EU & their families

· EU nationals in the UK

Find out more about the new UK GHIC.

6. If I already have travel insurance in place, did this cease to be valid following Brexit? 

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 have not changed since 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.

7. What are the new rules with regards to mobile roaming? 

The guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway has ended.

Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.

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.

8. What are the new rules on taking my pet abroad? Since 

1st January 2021 you have not been able to use the pet passport scheme.

Instead you will need to obtain an animal health certificate (AHC) for your pet. Allow at least one month to arrange this and for the relevant vaccinations.

To see the full guidance on pet travel to Europe from 1st January 2021, please follow this link: Taking Pets Abroad.


If you are permitted to undertake international travel during the pandemic, please read the Government Guidance, including comprehensive checklist here. Also look out for our updates.


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