Travelling to Europe after Brexit – how will it affect my holiday? Latest advice on passports, visas and driving


BRITS heading abroad next year may be left confused regarding their holidays, with the UK leaving the EU Customs Union and Single Market on January 1, 2021.

Brits travelling to Europe after Brexit should be aware that there’s new advice around everything from passports and visas to EHIC and driving licences.

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 Before you go on holiday, make sure you know the latest Brexit travel advice

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Before you go on holiday, make sure you know the latest Brexit travel adviceCredit: Getty – Contributor

While the transition period is currently in place until December 31, a number of changes are expected next year with the government launching a huge £93million publicity blitz to get the UK ready for Brexit.

Michael Gove’s “Let’s Get Going” campaign across TV, radio, newspapers and social media will tell businesses and households to prepare for when we leave.

Adverts will carry a “Check, Change, Go” strapline and direct people and businesses to a checker tool on the Government’s website to show them what next steps they need to take.

Here is everything you need to know.

Can I book my holiday as normal?

You can still book holidays until the end of the year without any changes taking place – flights, ferries, cruises, Eurostar, Eurotunnel, and bus and coach services are not yet affected by Brexit.

Holidays will still go ahead as usual in 2021 as well, but may require additional travel documents and rules to follow.

 Make sure your passport is valid for travel

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Make sure your passport is valid for travelCredit: Alamy

Do I need to renew my passport before I travel

Brits do not have to renew their passport before travelling to Europe in 2020, as long as it remains in date.

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From January 1, 2021, the transition period will finish, which means new passport rules will apply.

After the transition period, Brits may need an additional 15 months on their documents, which means you should double check whether you need a new passport before you travel.

Previously, Brits who renewed their passport before it had expired could carry up to nine months over to their new passport – so a new passport could have the maximum validity of 10 years and nine months.

However, these additional nine months will not be valid if heading to the EU, and with Brits also then needing an additional six months on passports to be able to travel, this results in an extra 15 months needed on the passport.

Brits are being urged to check their passports, however, with many expected to have expired during lockdown with renewals taking much longer than usual.

Why do I need 15 months left on my passport?

Brits who previously renewed their passport before it’s expired could carry up to nine months over to their new passport so – a new passport could have the maximum validity of 10 years and nine months.

After the transition period, Brits visiting Schengen Area countries, including Spain, France and Greece, will be governed by the same rules as visitors from non-EU countries.

This means that they will need at least six months left on their passport to enter the EU, and their passport must have been issued in the last ten years.

It creates a loophole that makes the extra nine months that were carried over invalid in the Schengen Area.

That’s why Brits who carried over the full nine months when they last renewed would need at least 15 months left on the passport after Brexit – nine months to account for the now-invalid time carried over, plus six months for the required validity.

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There are two simple questions you should answer to check whether you need to renew your passport before you travel, which you can find here.

Do I need to get a visa to travel to Europe?

As now, most Brit holidaymakers won’t need to get a visa to visit Europe during the transition period – as long as you don’t stay for more than 90 days in a 180-day period.

If you’re looking to stay in Europe for longer than the 90 days, or are planning to work or study there, you may need to get a visa.

The requirements in this case will depend on which country you’re planning to stay in.

After the transition period, you may need to show proof that you have a return or onward ticket, and that you have enough money to cover the cost of your trip.

 There may be separate lanes at the border in EU countries

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There may be separate lanes at the border in EU countriesCredit: Getty Images – Getty

What if I’m planning to drive in Europe?

Drivers with their own cars are expected to need to have an insurance “green card” as proof that they have the right cover, as well as International Drivers Permits depending on the country.

These cost around £5.50, with three different varieties – 1949 and 1968, common across Europe, and 1926.

Can I still use mobile roaming on my phone?

From January 1, 2021, the guarantee of free mobile roaming will officially end.

Whether or not mobile phone companies hike up prices as a result will depend on who you have your contract with.

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In 2021, mobile companies will be allowed to introduce charges if they want to, although it’ll largely depend on what commercial arrangements they have with suppliers overseas.

EE is one of the providers who confirmed it has no plans to bring back mobile roaming fees after Brexit.

Can I still use the European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs)?

European Health Insurance Cards give Brits state-provided medical treatment in EU and European countries that recognise it, and you can get one for free.

It entitles you to free medical treatment abroad if their citizens get free treatment, but you’ll have to pay if they do.

The card covers pre-existing medical conditions as well as emergency care, and some travel insurers will insist that you carry it with you on a trip to Europe.

The Government has warned that it might not be valid after the transition period, but you should get the appropriate travel insurance even if you can use the EHIC.

This is because travel insurance will cover you for other incidents, including delays and missing luggage.

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