BREXIT is officially here – the UK will leave the EU at 11pm TOMORROW.
The nation’s relationship with Europe will dramatically change as a result, but here’s what will be different for most Brits, and everything you need to know about travel, visas and driving.
What will happen on Saturday (February 1)?
The UK will have left the EU by 11pm tomorrow and we will then enter the so-called transition period until December 31, 2020.
This basically means most things for Brits will remain almost exactly the same for the next 11 months – as Britain thrashes out a new deal with the bloc which will come into play next year.
That means Britain will still have to follow most of the EU’s rules and regulations, but we should be free of them by 2021.
British citizens won’t be EU citizens anymore, but will still be able to benefit from seamless travel throughout the bloc for the next few months.
Goods will also continue to be traded freely throughout the UK and the EU27 for now.
For the next 11 months Brits will be able to travel abroad just as easily as they can now.
They will not yet need a visa to travel to EU countries.
The European Commission has said that from 2021, travellers will need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) visa waiver – much like when visiting America at the moment.
ETIAS can be used for up to 90 days in a period of 180 days.
It will cost roughly £6 and be valid for three years – or up to the date of passport expiry.
British pets will have the hardest time travelling through the EU and it could take up to 4 MONTHS to go through the new process.
Pet passports will not be valid post-2020.
If you already have a passport, there’s no need to worry, it will still be valid until the expiration date – regular rules apply.
Brits who do need to renew their passport will be able to get their hands on a blue passport from early 2020.
By mid-2020, all new British passports will be blue.
Phone charges and roaming
Mobile roaming may also be different and Brits need to check with their phone company for any extra charges.
There is a new law which protects people from getting huge roaming charges without knowing about.
Any charges above £45 have to be opted into, so you will have to chat to your phone operator about it before your holiday.
After 2020, Brits may need to show a return or onward ticket when travelling in the EU, as well as enough money for their holiday.
There will also be separate lanes for Brits – no more using the EU, EEA and Swiss citizens queues.
EU Holiday Essentials
- Passports must be less than 10 years old AND have at least 6 months left on it
- International Drivers Permit for EU – £5.50
- ETIAS Visa £6
- Keep an eye on EHIC updates and get the right travel insurance
- Pets will have to go through an entirely different process, and pet passports will not be valid
The post-Brexit pound and holiday money
The pound jumped against the dollar and euro in the biggest three year rally in December as Boris won the election, so it’s looking good for Brits spending their money in Europe.
But, you can never know what will happen to exchange rates tomorrow.
The best way to get the most out of your hard earned cash on a European holiday, you should keep an eye on exchange rates in the weeks before you travel.
European Health Insurance Card
European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will still be valid until December 31 so Brits can be sure of free or reduced-cost medical treatment in the EU.
After the end of the transition period, it depends it what deal Boris strikes with the EU.
The government’s website says: “If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, your EHIC might not be valid anymore”.
If you do want to drive in Europe after 2020, you’ll have to get a hold of an International Driving Permit.
They only cost £5.50 are can be picked up from a post office, but make sure you check which one the country you are visiting requires – there are different types.
For Brits living in Europe, driving on their UK drivers licence, they will need to be swapped over for a local licence before December 31, 2020.
Ex pats in Europe
British expats living elsewhere in the UK can stay on in their home country.
However, there might be a few administrative hoops they have to jump through depending on what their country asks for.
That doesn’t mean they will have the same access to move to other EU countries post-2020.
Citizens in the EU
The 3 million Europeans in the UK can still live here after Friday – but they will need to apply for settled status or pre-settled status by December 31.
The UK will move over to an Australian-style points based system as soon as the transition period ends, meaning hopeful immigrants will have to fulfil certain criteria including education, work background and language skills.
Now that we have finally left Boris Johnson will face up to the EU to secure a trade deal in the 11 month transition period.
The EU has been dragging their heels, and swearing they can’t get a deal done by December 2020.
Boris has said in no uncertain terms he will not allow the transition period to be extended beyond December 31.
US President Donald Trump has also signalled he’s ready to sign a “fantastic” new trade deal with the UK.
The talks with the US will run at the same time as the UK.