Frequently Asked Questions

Brexit

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citizens to travel to the UK with an ID card rather than a passport, but the option of using an ID card is likely to be withdrawn progressively over time.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 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:

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 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 28th, 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 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 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.

Pets

Can I take my dog with me?

Yes of course you can! Most ferry companies allow you to take pets on their routes.

https://www.discoverferries.com/thinking-taking-dog-holiday/

How much does it cost to take my pet on a ferry?

Sometimes this is totally free of charge and other times there is a small cost. Check with the ferry company you are planning to travel with to get the exact amount.

Can my pet stay with me on the ferry?

It depends on the route you’re taking as to whether your pet can stay with you on the crossing, stay in your car or in kennels in a dedicated pet area. You’ll need to check with the ferry company you are planning to travel with for exact details.

Can I take my pet on a ferry to France?

Oui! You can take them to any mainland European country provided all their documentation is up to date. Some companies like Brittany Ferries now operate a Pet Travel Scheme. With travel schemes like this, it makes it easy for you to take your dog or cat on holiday to the continent. Check out your ferry company’s website for all the details.

Driving

Can I take a trailer or caravan on a ferry?

Absolutely! Ferry travel is perfect for transporting all types of vehicles and trailers. However, ferries come in all shapes and sizes so it’s well worth checking the website of the ferry company that you intend to travel with for the exact requirements of that particular vessel.

What are the legal requirements for driving in Europe?

It’s always best to be prepared when you’re driving in Europe. Vehicles travelling in Europe are now legally required to have certain breakdown and emergency equipment stored in the vehicle. Check the website of the ferry company you are booking with for a list of all the things you need to do and have with you to make your journey run smoothly.

What are the speed limits in Europe?

The speed limit on motorways is generally 110, 120 or 130 km/h and the limit in built-up areas is 50 or 60 km/h. Keep an eye on the signs to make sure of the exact limits and any special conditions that apply.

What do I have to have in my car when I drive in France?

The following items are compulsory to have in your car under French law: Original registration documentation, reflective jacket/waistcoat, warning triangle and headlamp adjustment kit. For more details, check the website of the ferry company you are travelling with or check our partner’s website – www.theaa.com.

What type of vehicle can I take on a ferry?

All sorts! The beauty of ferry travel is in its flexibility. The exact vehicle you can take depends on the individual requirements of the ship that you are planning to travel on, but you could travel in a car, motorhome, a car with a roof-box, on a bike, on a motorbike, a car with bikes on the roof, a car towing a caravan or trailer, on a coach, minibus and you can travel with your commercial vehicle too! Always check the individual requirements of the company you are travelling with before you book!

Is parking available at ports?

Short and long term secure parking is available at most ports. The cost of this will vary according to the particular port. For more information it is best to contact the port directly.

Can I travel with a roof box or bicycles attached to my car?

Yes, that’s what ferries are designed for! Please make sure that you enter your vehicle dimensions correctly, including any attached racks or roof-boxes. Failure to enter vehicle dimensions correctly may lead to problems at the port, such as additional charges or not enough space being available for you to board the ferry.

On Board

Do ferries have Wi-Fi?

A large number of ferries now offer free Wi-Fi on board which is brilliant for keeping in touch when you’re travelling. It’s fantastic for sending those last minute emails, checking the traffic on your forward route, booking a restaurant or updating your social media status to ‘on an adventure!’

Are ferries equiped for disabled passengers?

Of course! Modern ferries have been designed or adapted to suit the needs of disabled or passengers with reduced mobility, however some sailings have a restriction on the number of wheelchairs that can be taken. If you have specific requirements, check with the ferry company that you plan to sail with.

Are there places to eat and drink on a ferry?

There are lots of places to eat and drink on the vast majority of vessels with only the smallest ships on the shortest routes not providing this service. One of the best things about ferry travel is that you can relax, eat and drink while you’re travelling. We think you’ll be surprised by the range and quality of the onboard dining options now available on ferries.

Can I book a cabin on a ferry?

Yes. Cabins are available on many ferries, especially on longer routes. Ships have many different types of cabins and to see if cabins are available on the route that you want to travel, follow the links to your ferry company’s homepage. Cabins can typically be booked online, onboard or by calling your ferry operator.

Are there medical services on a ferry?

Many of the larger ships will have nurses on board, for both daily and emergency care. In addition, the larger ships often have a dedicated sick bay to enable care and support to be provided. On ships that do not have dedicated medical staff on board, a number of staff will have been trained in first aid and will be able to help you on your journey. If you think that you may become ill while travelling on a ferry it is advisable to take medication prior to departure and keep it with you on board as it may not be available on the vessel.

What currency do I use onboard a ferry?

Prices on board ferries are in Sterling or Euro depending on the route. On most routes ferries will accept both Euro and Sterling as payment. Bureau de Change facilities are available on board many ships that are serving routes to countries in the euro zone.

Can I take my bike on a ferry?

Yes, bicycles are usually carried free of charge when the rider buys a foot passenger ticket. Please note that space for bicycles can be limited on some fast ferry services and it’s always best to check with the ferry company you plan to travel with. If you’re planning to travel with bikes on the back or top of your car, that’s fine too but again, it’s best to check the exact dimensions permitted on the ship that you intend to travel on.

Can I buy duty free on a ferry?

Duty Free shopping was abolished for internal EU trips in 1999. In its place is the very similar ‘duty paid’ shopping, which means the duty that you pay is in fact much lower than in the UK. When the UK leaves the EU on 29 March this may change – see the Brexit FAQs above for more information. The shops onboard larger ferries sell an impressive range of products and brands, many exclusive to travel retail and offering savings of up to 20% on high street prices.

Paperwork

Do I need to take my passport when I travel on a ferry around the British Isles?

This is pretty simple, if you hold a British passport and you’re travelling on a ferry route within the British Isles, you do not need a passport to travel but are required to take a form of photo identity.

Do I need a ticket to travel on a ferry?

This all depends on how you made your booking. Typically you’ll need your booking reference number and a form of photo identification at check-in. Check-in is a straightforward process on ferries and if you have any detailed questions, check out the website of the ferry company you are planning to travel with or give them a call, they’ll be happy to help.

Do I need a passport when I travel to Europe on a ferry?

Yes, a passport is required for all passengers, including children and infants, valid beyond the date of return for all trips to mainland Europe. You will not be permitted to travel on routes to mainland Europe without a valid passport.