On January 31, 2020, the UK left the European Union (EU) and entered an 11-month negotiation period, known as the ‘transition period’.
During these months, all existing agreements remained in place while government officials work with EU members to negotiate agreements on travel, trade, and the regulation of medicine ahead of when transition period ends on December 31, 2020.
Negotiations took place and on December 24th, 2020, Boris Johnson announced that the UK and the EU would end the transition period with a deal that suited all parties involved. So, here’s everything we know about the deal in place:
- Will I need to update my passport to travel?
- Will the EHIC still be valid after Brexit?
- If the GHIC is global, does it cover medical costs all over the world?
- Can I apply for the GHIC if I still have an EHIC?
- Who can apply for a GHIC?
- What is the registration process?
- What happens if I fall ill abroad and do not have a GHIC?
- Do I still need travel insurance if I have an EHIC or GHIC?
- Will my travel insurance still cover me for healthcare abroad?
- Will my travel insurance become more expensive?
- Can I still travel abroad if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
- Will travel insurers change their policies to cover the disruption caused by Brexit?
- Do I need a permit to drive abroad after Brexit?
- Can I still take my pet on holiday after Brexit?
- Will data roaming charges abroad increase?
- Will I need any additional documents to enter a country?
- What happens if my flight is delayed due to Brexit?
- What happens if my travel company goes out of business?
Will I need to update my passport to travel?
Anyone visiting Europe will be required to have at least six months validity left on their passport – this includes children’s passports.
As well as this, passports will also have to be less than 10 years old (even if it has six months or more left on it). For more information on this click here.
The government has set up a page that can help those better understand whether their passport is valid for the country they are visiting. You can find out more information here.
Will the EHIC still be valid after Brexit?
All European Health Insurance Card’s (EHIC) issued before the end of 2020 will continue to remain valid until their expiry date. After this, holidaymakers will be required to obtain a new card called the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
Similar to the EHIC, the GHIC will look to provide free or subsidised costs of emergency medical treatment in most EU countries. The GHIC can be applied for via the NHS website. Find out more here.
However, it’s worth being aware that the use of the EHIC or GHIC is limited in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland and as a result only certain people will be able to rely on its benefits. So, if you have an upcoming trip to any of these destinations, click here to find out if you qualify to use it.
It is important to note that an EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. Therefore, holidaymakers will still need to make sure they have adequate cover in place before they set off. For more information on what you should look out for when buying a travel insurance policy, click here.
If the GHIC is global, does it cover medical costs all over the world?
The government has not yet confirmed whether the GHIC will extend to the reciprocal agreement which is in place with countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Gibraltar, and the Caribbean.
One thing we do know is despite its name, the cover won’t be global and Brits won’t be able to use them in all countries around the world.
Can I apply for the GHIC if I still have an EHIC?
Brits do not need to apply for a GHIC until their EHIC has expired. Additionally, anyone who renewed their EHIC before the end of 2020 will be able to continue to use their EHIC until it expires.
Who can apply for a GHIC?
All UK residents are able to apply for a GHIC. Additionally, any EU, Swiss, Norwegian, Icelandic, or Liechtenstein nationals living in the UK before 1 January 2021 will be able to apply for a new EHIC, which will continue to be valid in the EU, as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
Those moving to the UK after 1 January 2021, however, won’t be able to apply for an EHIC.
What is the registration process?
Registering for a GHIC is exactly the same process as applying for an EHIC. Brits can either apply online via the official website, call the GHIC application service on 0300 330 1350, or print off the online application form and apply by post.
Applications can take between 7-10 days to process, and extra time should be allowed for postal applications.
Just like the EHIC, the GHIC is completely free. So, Brits should be cautious of any websites charging a fee.
What happens if I fall ill abroad and do not have a GHIC?
Brits that fall ill in an EU country and do not have an EHIC or GHIC to hand (this could be as a result of it not arriving in time or being lost during the holiday) are able to apply for a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) to prove their entitlement.
THE PRC can be applied for by calling the Overseas Healthcare Services on 0191 218 1999 and will provide the same cover as an EHIC or GHIC would have.
It’s worth noting that PRC’s can only be issued during set opening hours. Therefore, those who require emergency medical attention at the weekend or late at night, may need to rely on their travel insurance to cover costs.
Do I still need travel insurance if I have an EHIC or GHIC?
Absolutely. While the EHIC and GHIC entitle Brits to emergency medical treatment abroad, they do not cover for additional unexpected costs such as cancellation, lost luggage, or repatriation.
Therefore, it is essential that Brits continue to buy a suitable travel insurance policy that meets their needs in order to fully protect themselves while abroad.
Will my travel insurance still cover me for healthcare abroad?
Travel insurance providers will continue to cover emergency medical expenses for those that have this cover included in their policy and have accurately declared their medical conditions.
Will my travel insurance become more expensive?
At time of writing there has been no indication that travel insurance policies will increase in cost due to Brexit. However, an increase in the price of a travel insurance policy should not be an excuse to travel uninsured, as travellers cannot rely on the EHIC or GHIC as a replacement.
Can I still travel abroad if I have a pre-existing medical condition?
Yes! However, anyone with a pre-existing medical condition will have to make sure their travel insurer is aware of any and all conditions.
Failure to let your travel insurance provider know about your medical conditions, could result in your claim being declined, should you require medical treatment abroad, resulting in a hefty medical bill.
Will travel insurers change their policies to cover the disruption caused by Brexit?
Travel insurers may well adapt their policies in the future to meet any demands as a result of Britain no longer being part of the UK.
Having said that, at the time of writing, there are only a few policies available on the market that will cover disruption caused by Brexit.
While consumer rights will not change from 1 January 2021, meaning if a trip is cancelled or delayed customers may be able to claim a refund or compensation, we would recommend that anyone with concerns over the cover provided in their travel insurance policy check’s their policy wordings and/or terms and conditions to make sure they have suitable cover should their trip be affected.
Do I need a permit to drive abroad after Brexit?
British citizens will not be required to purchase an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in most EU countries, including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Although, if your driving licence was issued in the Isle of Man, Gibraltar, Guernsey or Jersey then you may be required to purchase an IDP to be able to drive in some EEA countries.
IDP’s cost around £5.50 and can be bought in local Post Offices.
Anyone taking their own car from the UK to an EU country will need to display a GB sticker and carry their driving licence on them at all times.
Anyone planning to drive abroad should also check that they are covered to do so with their car insurance provider and discuss how to obtain a green card with their car insurer.
Can I still take my pet on holiday after Brexit?
Yes – but the process has changed a little.
British tourists are no longer be able to use the existing pet passport scheme and are instead required to follow a new process.
Pet owners will now be required to obtain an EU animal health certificate (AHC) to prove that their animal has been microchipped and received a rabies vaccination when travelling to the EU or Northern Ireland. An AHC must be acquired for every journey the pet undertakes and costs around £100.
Animals who receive the rabies vaccination will need to wait three weeks until they are able to travel.
Those travelling with a pet from the EU or Northern Ireland are not yet affected by these changes.
For more information click here.
Will data roaming charges abroad increase?
Mobile phone providers are no longer obligated to offer a free data roaming service. However, a number of providers have said they have no current plans to change their roaming policies.
It’s worth being aware that the government has introduced legislation to protect British tourists from any unexpected mobile charges from January 1, 2021. This legislation limits the amount of mobile data consumers can use by accident to £45 while abroad, which means tourists cannot continue to use the mobile data unless they agree to the additional cost.
The government has also legislated to continue to ensure that consumers receive alerts when they are at 80% data usage.
However, we would recommend those with any concerns check with their provider for any charges they receive while abroad.
Will I need any additional documents to enter a country?
Possibly. British passport holders may be required to provide evidence of a return ticket or onward ticket, show they have enough money for their stay, and even use separate lanes from EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens when queueing at border control.
While British tourists won’t require a visa for short trips to the majority of EU countries, including, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, and Cyprus.
Of course, rules may vary depending on the amount of time spent in the country and reason for travel e.g. business, work, or study.
We would recommend that you check the country you’re due to visit for more information on their entry requirements. You can do this here.
What happens if my flight is delayed due to Brexit?
Under the EU Regulation 261/2004, holidaymakers can claim up to €600 compensation if their flight is delayed.
The amount that can be claimed will vary on the length of time the flight is delayed, total flight duration, and the airline’s terms and conditions. This legislation has also been adopted by the UK government after Brexit. So, as long as your flight isn’t delayed due to reasons out of the airline’s control (such as bad weather), then tourists should be able to recover some costs.
Some travel insurance policies will also offer compensation for every 12 hours or so that you are delayed. However, this will depend on the specific policy bought and the level of cover included.
What happens if my travel company goes out of business?
If the company you’ve booked your trip through goes out of business, and you’ve booked a package holiday that is ATOL protected, you will continue to be covered under EU law. This is as long as the company you’ve bought your holiday with targets UK customers.
In the instance that you’ve bought your flights and accommodation separately and a provider go into liquidation, you should first try and recover lost costs back through your credit card company or bank.
If you are unable to recover costs through your credit card company or bank, then you should submit a claim to your travel insurer, providing you have cover for financial failure included in your policy.
If there are any questions that we have missed out, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us and we will try our very best to answer them!