What impact will Brexit have on travel after March 2019?/Will I still be able to sail to European destinations via ferry from the UK?

Brexit will not affect the ability of ferries to sail between the UK and the rest of Europe.

Passengers travelling via ferry to Europe should be able to continue to sail on their booked ferry services, as well as book new crossings to Europe for travel up to, during and beyond March 29th 2019, with confidence. This will remain the case regardless of a deal or no deal Brexit scenario, although some of the requirements for travel will change depending on the Brexit outcome.

As a Brexit agreement has yet to be reached, the guidance below is designed to help you be as prepared as possible so that you can still travel easily and with confidence when Britain leaves the EU at the end of March this year, even if a Brexit deal has not been reached.

Will my current passport be valid for travel to Europe after Brexit?

Existing red European passports issued to British citizens will continue to be valid for up to ten years (for an adult) from its original issue, or five years for a child.

In the event of a no-deal scenario, however, British travellers will need to check their passport has at least six month’s validity before their date of travel and at least three months validity when they return from the last country visited in the Schengen Area (here is a list of countries in the Schengen area).  This may differ for travel to and from countries that are in the EU but not in the Schengen area.

Travel to the Republic of Ireland from the UK is subject to separate Common Travel Area arrangements, which will remain the same after the UK leaves the EU.

There should be no immediate changes after March 29th to the arrangements that allow EU citizens to travel to the UK with an ID card rather than a passport, but the option of using an ID card is likely to be withdrawn progressively over time.  Travelling with a full passport is a safe option.  If you prefer to travel on your ID card instead, you should check in advance that it will still be acceptable at the UK border.

Full information on the European Commission’s current travel proposal can be found here.

New passports – UK passports issued after March 29th will be different. This will happen in two phases as the Government works towards the reintroduction of blue British passports.

Will I need a visa to travel to the EU post Brexit?

No, if you hold a passport from an EU member state.  UK passport holders will not need a visa to travel to Ireland and almost certainly will not need a visa to travel to the Continent either.  The same applies vice versa: holders of Irish passports will not need a visa to travel to the UK; and holders of other EU passports almost certainly will not need one either.

The current EU White Paper indicates that British travellers will not need a visa to travel to the EU, as long as they are not intending to stay for more than 90 days in a 180-day period.  The UK Government has proposed that no visa should be needed EU citizens to visit the UK for leisure or short-term business trips.  Legal confirmation of these arrangements is now awaited.

However, from 2021, British travellers may need to complete an online application for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) prior to travel to the Continent. And, at some point yet to be fixed, anyone travelling from the Continent to the UK without a UK or an Irish passport may similarly have to obtain the UK equivalent of an ETIAS.  Further information on this is not yet available.

Will I still be able to take my pet on holiday with me after Brexit/March 2019?

Yes; the current EU Pet Travel Scheme is not limited to EU countries and we believe it is likely that UK will remain in it, meaning that the current pet passport arrangements for dogs, cats and ferrets would continue.

Click here for further information on the current PET Travel Scheme.

Click here for advice on travelling safely with your dog.

If the UK is excluded from the current Pet Travel Scheme, however, you will still be able to take your pet away with you, but they may need a different certificate for travel or additional checks.

Detailed guidance from the Government on pet travel in a no deal scenario can be found here and will depend on whether or not the UK is a listed (Part 1 or 2), or unlisted third country: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-after-brexit

The main points to note are:

  • If the UK is a listed third country (Part 1):
    • This means that the UK would be able to operate under the same EU Pet Travel Scheme rules as EU member states and there would be little change to the current pet travel arrangements.
  • If the UK is a listed third country (Part 2):
    • The majority of countries outside the EU are Part 2 listed, which requires additional conditions to be met, including temporary health certificates. Conditions include:
      • Need for the pet to be taken to an Official Veterinarian (OV) at least 21 days before travel to ensure that rabies vaccinations were up-to-date and the animal has a microchip.
      • A health certificate confirming the pet has been appropriately vaccinated and chipped would need to be obtained from an OV no later than 10 days before travel to the EU. Once the pet has arrived in the EU, the certificate is valid for four months for onward travel within the EU.
      • A new health certificate will need to be obtained for every trip from the UK to the EU.
      • Pet owners will be required to present the health certificate at a designated Travellers Point of Entry (TPE) upon arrival in the EU.
  • If the UK is an unlisted third country:
    • This would require a consultation with a vet as well as additional checks and measures, including a blood titre test for all pets to demonstrate sufficient levels of rabies anti-bodies, which would need to be carried out at least 30 days after any initial rabies vaccination.
    • Pets that have already had a blood titre test and up-to-date rabies vaccinations would not be required to repeat the blood test before travel.
    • Pets that have not had blood titre tests but have up-to-date rabies vaccinations will be required to have a blood titre test and will need to wait for three months before travel to ensure no rabies symptoms develop.
    • Pets that have not had a blood titre test or rabies vaccinations will need to have a rabies vaccination 30 days before a blood titre test followed by a three month waiting period to ensure no rabies symptoms develop.
    • Temporary health certificates would then need to be obtained by an OV, as in a Part 2 listed country scenario.

Will I need to apply for an International Driving Permit if I want to drive my car in Europe after Brexit/March 2019?

The UK government has stated that it wants to explore reciprocal arrangements for private motoring. These arrangements are yet to be defined or agreed.

In the event of a no Brexit deal scenario, UK driving licences may no longer be valid by themselves for driving in the EU and it may be necessary to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP).

As obtaining an IDP is relatively straight forward, we recommend anyone planning to travel immediately before or after March 29th may want to consider obtaining the relevant IDP before travelling, as a precaution.

There are two types of IDPs, which are valid in different EU and European countries:

  • IDP for travelling to countries governed by the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic. This IDP is needed for travel to countries such as Ireland, Spain, Malta and Cyprus. The permit is valid for 12 months.
  • IDP for countries governed by the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. This is valid for three years, or until your driving licence expires if the licence has less than three years’ validity. This IDP will be valid from March 29th 2019 for travel in all other EU countries, as well as Norway and Switzerland.
  • For travel to multiple countries that are covered by the different conventions (i.e. travel to France and Spain), permits that cover both conventions will need to be obtained before travel.

The cost of the International Driving Permits is £5.50. All IDP applications need to be made via the Post Office.

Full guidance from the Government on driving in the EU after Brexit can be accessed here.

Will my European driving insurance continue to be valid post Brexit?

We advise people travelling to Europe in their own vehicles to check with their insurance providers to ensure the validity of their policy for driving in EU countries. If a Brexit deal is not reached, it may be necessary to obtain a Green Card, which you will need to take with you, to demonstrate the validity of your insurance when driving abroad. These can be obtained via your insurance company, often at no extra cost.

For travellers intending to drive in Europe after March 29th, we recommend contacting your motor insurance provider in advance in order to obtain a Green Card prior to travel, which should be carried in the vehicle during your time in Europe.

Further information on Green Cards can be found here from The AA.

Will I still be able to able to use my European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Europe after Brexit/March 2019?

No.  If there is a no deal Brexit, British citizens will no longer be entitled to access this healthcare service.

We would always advise individuals travelling abroad, however, to ensure they have adequate private travel insurance, as even the EHIC scheme does not cover all medical treatment and associated costs.

Here is a link for further details on what is currently covered by the EHIC scheme.

Will there be long queues at ports after Brexit/March 2019?

There has been speculation in the British media and elsewhere about potential delays at ports due to additional customs checks at British ports. It should be noted that these additional checks apply mainly to the transportation of freight/commercial goods between Britain and the EU and not people looking to travel to Europe on holiday or for leisure purposes.

We are confident that British passport holders travelling to Europe from the UK for leisure purposes should not experience many changes to the way they currently travel through the ferry ports.

However, should a Brexit agreement with the EU not be reached, British travellers may be subject to a change in customs requirements, bringing them more in line with the restrictions and allowances that apply to individuals arriving from countries such as the United States of America. This could result in the need to declare some goods purchased in the UK, as well as restrictions on the ability to transport some food items into Europe from the UK.

Further information can be found in the EU White Paper on UK Withdrawal from the EU.

The UK government has stated that people entering the UK from Europe should not experience any additional checks or longer waiting periods at border controls than are currently in place.

Port and ferry operators work hard to ensure that passengers have a quick and easy journey through their ports. It is worth noting, however, that ferry ports are always busier during the holiday season and we recommend that you check with your ferry operator for advice on how early you should arrive for your sailing.

In the event of a no deal Brexit, contingency planning has been put in place, which includes preparations for additional freight services from some UK ports. As a result, some ferry timetables may change slightly, which this is likely to result in additional sailing times for people travelling to Europe.

Will we soon be able to benefit from duty free shopping?

Yes, if you are going from the UK to the EU.  The EU has stated that individuals travelling to the UK will have a duty-free allowance on entry.  Check with your ferry company to confirm that duty-free shopping opportunities will be available on board.

We are waiting for further clarification from the UK Government about arrangements for passengers arriving in the UK from the EU.  The UK government has stated that you will be able to bring back food, wine and other goodies that you have bought (duty and tax paid) in shops in the EU for your personal consumption as you do now; but it has yet to make clear what the arrangements will be for duty-free bought on board the ferry.

Will mobile phone charges increase post Brexit?

This is not yet clear, although the Government has set out its ambition for a joint commitment to an open and liberalised approach to public telecoms services and networks