From 1st January 2021, it’s all change for travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein as the Brexit transition period comes to an end. Will travel still be possible? Yes but it’s going to be a lot more complicated and the information out there equally so. Here’s my simple guide as to what you need to know about post Brexit travel to Europe.
Due to the emergence of a new strain of Coronavirus, the European Commission is currently discouraging all non- essential travel to and from the UK. In addition, around three quarters of England is now subject to Tier 4 restrictions, which means that all non-essential travel is not permitted. Those living in Tier 3 are advised not to travel or stay in other areas of the UK or go abroad on holiday.
However, if and when we are on the move again then there are a number of key points to remember when planning your post Brexit travel trip to Europe.
The information regarding passports is confusing, as the government has given three conflicting versions of calculating date of validity. This could result in passengers being turned away incorrectly from airports and compensation payouts for denied boarding accordingly.
Without confusing the issue further by detailing the ins and outs of each version, to avoid any potential issues when travelling, check that your passport (regardless of its colour) has more than 6 months left and that it is less than 10 years old. Allow plenty of time for new passport applications.
Pet passports issued in Great Britain are no longer valid for travel to the EU from the 1st January. Instead your pet will require an Animal Health certificate. Allow at least a month to organise this through your vet.
Ensure you have the correct travel documentation. You may be required to provide proof of a return or forward journey and visas or permits may be required for trips of longer than 90 days.
In the future, British travellers will be able to apply for an ‘Etias’ permit under a European Travel Information and Authorisation system but this will not be until 2022 at the earliest.
If you are travelling by car, then the good news is that you do not need an International Driving Permit but you will need to display a GB sticker when driving in Europe. You will also need a green card to prove you have insurance and take with you your driving licence, insurance documents and vehicle log book (V5C).
More good news is that EHIC cards will continue to be valid for health cover until expiry except in ‘hangers on’ countries such as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein but no new ones will be issued. If you do not have a card, you can get a Provisional Replacement Certificate (PRC) should treatment be needed. Going forward a new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) will be issued but this is still in the planning stages.
You should always take out travel insurance with appropriate health cover before travelling. Ensure any pre-existing conditions are covered.
Checks and controls
There are certain things that you now can’t do that you used to be able to do as an EU citizen:
There is no guarantee of entry to an EU country and you cannot use the EU fast track lanes at passport control. Be prepared for longer queues accordingly if traffic increases when restrictions are lifted. Be prepared also for a lot more questions as to reasons for your visit, duration of visit and where you are staying.
No meat, milk or products containing them are permitted into EU countries from the UK.
Depending on your mobile phone provider you may face roaming charges as the guarantee of free roaming has come to an end. To protect customers, the government has introduced a cap on charges incurred whilst using mobile data abroad and a requirement for customers to be informed when reaching 80% and 100% of their allowance. Mobile providers are being encouraged to have ‘transparent and reasonable’ rates. Don’t get caught out; check with your provider before travelling.
It’s not all bad news though for post Brexit travel:
Travellers from England, Scotland and Wales travelling to Europe can now take advantage of duty free shopping and allowances have increased.
No more tax free shopping at airports for non-excise goods such as electronics, clothing and cosmetics following concerns that this concession was not being passed on to customers.
Your consumer rights have not changed so if your trip is cancelled or delayed then you may still be able to claim compensation or a refund if appropriate. It’s always prudent to check the T’s and C’s of booking terms and conditions before travel.
You are still protected if you have booked a package holiday should the operator go out of business and you can still use Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 to obtain a refund if necessary.
In a nutshell, the key to a successful post Brexit EU trip is effective and thorough planning!
Happy travelling- when we eventually can!