Frequently Asked Questions

Brexit

What impact will Brexit have on travel after 31 October 2019?

Passengers will continue to be able to travel by ferry to and from Continental Europe, Ireland and on all other current ferry routes before, during and after Brexit, regardless of a deal or no-deal outcome.

Ferry operators, in conjunction with both British and European ports as well as governmental departments, have been working hard to prepare for any potential scenario, prioritising the flow of traffic through the ports.

Passengers travelling via ferry to Europe and other destinations will be able to continue to sail on their booked ferry services, as well as book new crossings for travel up to, during and beyond 31 October 2019, with confidence.

In the event that Britain agrees a deal with the EU, the UK will enter a transition period where everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel as you do now.

If the UK leaves without a deal there will be some changes to travel requirements which we have highlighted below and in the following question sections. The guidance is designed to help you travel with confidence whatever the Brexit outcome.

The UK Government advises all visitors to Europe after Brexit to:

  • Check your passport is valid
  • Ensure you have travel insurance which covers your healthcare
  • Check you have the right driving documents
  • Organise pet travel if you are looking to take your pet to Europe with you as you need to contact your vet at least 4 months before you go

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. If you are unsure whether or not your passport is valid, you can use a tool from the UK Government to check its validity: https://www.gov.uk/check-a-passport-for-travel-to-europe

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

There should be no immediate changes after 31st October 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 Preparedness notices can be found here.

Renewing passports – if your UK passports is 10 years old or over, or if it has less than six month’s validity for travel, you will need to renew it before you travel. You can do this via the Post Office or online. Further details on how to do this can be found here.

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

No, not for your holiday or a short break. According to current European Commission proposals, UK passport holders will not need a visa to travel to the EU for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. The same applies vice versa: holders of Irish and EU member state passports will not need a visa to travel to the UK.

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 able to use my European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) in Europe after Brexit?

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.

Here is a link to the UK Government’s advice on foreign travel insurance.

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

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 31st October may want to consider obtaining the relevant IDP before travelling, as a precaution.

There are three 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 Spain, Malta and Cyprus. The permit is valid for 12 months. Ireland has ratified the 1949 road traffic convention but does not require foreign drivers to carry an IDP in addition to their driving licence. As such, if you hold a UK driving licence you will not need an IDP to drive in Ireland following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU.
  • 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 following Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, for travel in all other EU countries, as well as Norway and Switzerland.
  • The 1926 IDP may be needed to drive in Liechtenstein.
  • 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.

You will also need to ensure you have:

  • A GB sticker displayed on your car
  • A green card from your motor insurance company (please check with your insurance provide on how long it will take to receive this)

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, you will need 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. We recommend contacting your motor insurance provider at least one month in advance in order to obtain a Green Card prior to travel, which should be carried in the vehicle during your time in Europe.

If I am towing a trailer or caravan, will I need a separate green card for the trailer post Brexit?

Yes, some EEA and EU countries require a separate Green Card as proof of insurance for your trailer, including caravans. If you are travelling with a trailer, contact your insurance provider to get two Green Cards: one for the towing vehicle, and one for the trailer. We recommend requesting these from your insurance provider one month before travel.

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

Yes, although you will need to contact your vet four months before your travel date to ensure that you have the right documentation and checks if we leave without a deal. As the proposed Brexit date is less than four months away, we advise checking with your vet now to ensure you are prepared should a no-deal take place if you are planning to travel in the next few months.

This is because, when the UK leaves the EU, it will become a third country in the EU Pet Travel Scheme and will need to have its application to the European Commission to be listed, approved.

Detailed guidance from the Government on pet travel after Britain leaves the EU can be found here, and will depend on whether or not the UK is a listed (Part 1 or 2), or unlisted third country. If Britain leaves the EU without a deal it is likely to be an 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.

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

Click here for our advice on travelling safely with your dog:

Will there be long queues at ports after Brexit?

We are confident that passengers travelling to Europe from the UK for leisure purposes will not experience many changes to the way they currently travel through the ferry ports, as long as you have the correct documentation (valid passport, insurance, driving permit etc.).

However, should a Brexit agreement with the EU not be reached, British travellers will be subject to a change in customs requirements, which may mean needing to show a return ticket, proving you have enough money for your stay and using non-EU lanes at customs. It may also be necessary to declare money over £10,000 being brought into the country and some goods purchased in the UK, as well as restrictions on the ability to transport some food items into Europe from the UK. https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-brexit

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.

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

Yes, if there is a no-deal and you are travelling from the UK to the EU you will be able to take advantage of duty-free shopping at British ports and on ferries.

On the way out of the UK excise duty will no longer apply to cigarettes and alcohol.

When travelling back to the UK from the EU you will still be able to bring back your personal allowance of cigarettes and alcohol for your own use, if duty has been paid in the EU – as is currently the case.

To find out more about bringing goods back into the UK after a no-deal Brexit, visit government guidance here: https://www.gov.uk/duty-free-goods/bringing-goods-into-the-uk-after-brexit

The UK  government has also said that it will be launching a mobile app designed to help passengers understand their duty free allowances and also to enable them to pay any VAT owed. We will update this document when we have more information on this.

Will mobile phone charges increase post Brexit?

Possibly. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal then EU rules governing data and roaming charges will no longer apply. Some mobile phone providers have said they will continue this benefit for their customers after Brexit, so check with your provider before travelling to the EU.

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.