Last updated: 22nd December 2020
The UK left the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020, with a withdrawal agreement. This agreement is known as the ‘transition period’ and due to expire on December 31, giving the UK 11 months to negotiate deals, including trade, travel, and the regulation of medicine, with other EU members.
During the transition period, all existing agreements remain the same as before, meaning that nothing changed for holidaymakers travelling to Europe during this time.
However, what happens in 2021, after the transition period expires, remains uncertain. In December 2020, there is still a lack of clarity, but we do at least know a little more than we did earlier in the year.
Previous information provided by the government indicated that European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs), mobile roaming, taking pets abroad, etc. may no longer be available to Brits post-Brexit, or at least free to British tourists. It has now been confirmed that the EHIC will no longer be valid post January, with the exception of specific circumstances, details below.
To help navigate this complex situation, we’ve pulled together your questions about travelling after Brexit. All information is correct at the time of publication and will be amended as updates are released.
What will happen to the EHIC after Brexit?
EHIC cards will no longer be valid for trips that start after 31 December 2020, for those who travelled before 31 December, they will still be covered until they return home.
There are limited exceptions where the EHIC will remain valid as below;
- UK students who started a course or education in the EU before 2020,
- individuals who work in one state but live in another,
- UK state pensioners who were living the in EU before 2020.
The European Health Insurance Card, formally known as the E111, allows UK citizens to receive free or discounted emergency healthcare when travelling in the EU. It has been a safety net for holidaymakers for many years and without it, medical bills will be much higher.
Now that the EHIC will be not be in place, travel insurance is even more of a necessity for any trip than it was before. Holidaymakers will need to make sure they are buying a travel insurance policy that is suitable for their needs. This includes making sure any existing medical conditions are declared. Not declaring conditions could void a policy, and holidaymakers may not have the means to pay medical bills.
Do I need to renew my passport because of Brexit?
All UK passports are valid for travel to the EU until the end of 2020.
It is now confirmed that holidaymakers with UK passports visiting the EU from January 2021, will need at least six months of validity ‘left’ from the date they travel on their passport. There are no visa requirements for temporary visitors to the EU, but some countries will require work or specific permits for trips over 90 days. Travellers should now be checking requirements when booking trips to ensure that they have the correct paperwork in place.
Will there be longer queues at border control?
Apparently not. However, nothing can be ruled out as the government are yet to come to an agreement when it comes to flights between the UK and EU.
UK passport holders will be unable to utilise the ‘fast-track’ EU passport control at borders as of December 2020, which could mean people have to wait longer at passport control.
Otherwise, security processes at airports are unlikely to change for passengers travelling to or from the UK, so theoretically there shouldn’t be additional queues. However, if delays do become an issue, passengers should allow plenty of time to pass through check-in and security. Travel insurance will not cover missed flights due to airport queues.
Can I still drive my own car abroad after Brexit?
There are no confirmed changes to rules for driving abroad January 31st 2020. Anyone driving in the EU, whether it’s their own car or a hired vehicle, will need to hold a full UK driving licence.
Despite previous advice from the Government, those looking to drive abroad do not need to apply for an International Driving Permit. It is now advised that UK travellers driving within the EU may now require International Driving licences. Travellers should check the specific country they are travelling to for details.
It is important to note, travel insurance will not extend to motor insurance therefore those taking their own vehicle or hiring a car abroad will need to speak to their car insurance company regarding specific cover.
Will I need a visa to travel to the EU?
Holidaymakers will not be required to apply for a visa to visit the EU for less than 90 days, however some countries may require permits or visas for trips that exceed 90 days from January 2021.
Am I still protected if my travel company goes bust?
It’s not unheard of for travel companies to go into liquidation. Holidaymakers who buy a package holiday that is ATOL-protected will still be entitled to claim back their money if the company goes bust. This includes holidays that have been brought from an EU company that targets the UK market.
Those who have paid for their holiday using a credit card, may be able to claim the cost back from their credit card company if their travel provider goes bust.
If the holiday is not ATOL-protected, and the company goes bust, travel insurance may be able to help. Some policies will include End Supplier Failure cover as standard and others will have the option to add on the cover for an additional cost. This cover will only be valid if the costs of your lost holiday cannot be recuperated from another source i.e. claimed back from the tour operator.
If I am delayed, will I still be entitled to compensation from the airline?
If travel is delayed or cancelled, passengers will still be entitled to compensation under the same circumstances that apply at the moment. This means if the delay is not caused by an extraordinary circumstance (something that is outside of the airlines control i.e. weather, air traffic control strikes) then passengers can claim compensation. More on amounts and eligibility can be found on the Civil Aviation Authority website.
In addition to airline compensation, most travel insurance policies will offer a departure delay benefit. Amounts and eligibility will differ between insurance companies, more on this can be found in our departure delay guide.
Can I still use internet roaming in the EU for free?
From January 2021, free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end.
Travellers are urged to check with your phone operator to find out about what their roaming charges will be from January 2021. There is however a new law that means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing. Your mobile service provider will require customers to ‘opt in’ to accept charges over £45.
What about if I want to take my pet abroad?
The relatively easy process of taking a pet to Europe will no longer be available to UK travellers wishing to take their fur babies overseas.
From January 2021 the existing pet passport scheme will no longer apply. Instead, travellers will need an animal health certificate (AHC) for their pet. Current guidelines are to allow at least 1 month to arrange this and relevant vaccinations.
*Disclaimer: All information was correct at the time of publication. This content will be updated as new information is released.