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Brexit FAQs

By 16/06/2020January 12th, 2021FAQs, Information

The UK’s transition period for exiting the EU ended on the 31 December 2020 and there are now new travel requirements in place for UK citizens visiting the bloc and for EU nationals visiting the UK. This advice is designed to make potential travellers aware of the changes to travel requirements in order to best prepare for an upcoming trip.

What impact does the end of the transition period have on travel to the EU?

Passengers will continue to be able to enjoy the comfort and safety of travel by ferry to and from continental Europe, Ireland and on all other current ferry routes in 2021 and beyond.

Due to the UKs new relationship with the EU there are some changes to travel requirements to the EU which we have highlighted below and in the following question sections. The guidance is designed to help you travel with confidence in 2021 and beyond. It is worth noting that as Ireland is part of the Common Travel Area many of these changes will not be applicable to travel to and from the Republic of Ireland.

The UK Government advises all visitors to Europe after 31 December 2020 to:

  • Check your passport has at least 6 months validity
  • Check you’re covered for healthcare while abroad
  • Check you have the right driving documents and insurance for your vehicle
  • Organise pet travel if you are looking to take your pet to Europe with you as you need to contact your vet at least 1 month before you go

Will my current passport be valid for travel to Europe after 31 December 2020?

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.

From 1 January 2021, British travellers will need to check their passport has at least six months validity on their date of arrival in the EU 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 only requires photo ID as a valid travel document to travel between the countries. This will remain the same after 31 December 2020.

There will be no immediate changes 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 will be withdrawn at the end of September 2021 for most EU visitors to the UK.  EU citizens who are resident in the UK will be able to continue using their EU ID cards for return travel to the UK until 2026.  Travelling with a full passport is, of course, always a safe option.

Renewing passports – if your UK passports is 10 years old or over, or if it has less than six months validity for travel, you will need to renew it before you travel from 2021. 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?

No, not for your holiday or a short break. 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.

You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

Will I still be able to able to use my European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

The trade deal between the UK and the EU, which was announced on 24 December, confirmed that the UK EHIC card will continue to be valid for emergency medical care in an EU country until its expiry date and that EU citizens’ EHIC cards will continue to be valid for emergency healthcare in the UK. The UK government has introduced a Global Health Insurance Card to replace the EHIC.

If you are travelling to Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland you should get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you travel.

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

Here is a link to the UK Government’s advice on foreign travel insurance: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/foreign-travel-insurance

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

For Brits with a valid UK-issued photo driving licence, travelling for less than 30 days an International Driving Permit will not be necessary, however in some cases driving licences may not be valid by themselves. This will depend on:

  • If you have a paper driving licence
  • A licence issued by Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man
  • How long you are going for

There are three types of IDPs, which are valid in different countries:

  • 1926
  • 1949
  • 1968

Please check here if you need a permit.

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 provider 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: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

Will my European driving insurance continue to be valid?

We advise people travelling to Europe in their own vehicles to check with their motor insurance providers to ensure the validity of their policy for driving in EU countries, as from 1 January 2021 you will need to obtain a Green Card, which should be carried in your vehicle to demonstrate the validity of your insurance while abroad.

A Green Card 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 of travel.

Click here for more information on driving abroad.

If I am towing a trailer or caravan, will I need a separate green card?

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 my European breakdown cover be affected by the end of the transition period?

The AA say their service will be completed unaffected. If you have bought/intend to buy a policy the cover will still be the high quality product drivers currently receive. If you are with a different provider, you should double check with your insurer.

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

Yes, and ferries are a particularly pet-friendly means of transport often offering dedicated facilities for pet owners. However, you will need to contact your vet one month before your travel date to ensure that your pet has had the correct vaccinations and you have the right documentation. As the transition period ends on the 31 December 2020, we advise checking with your vet right away if you are planning to travel in the first few months of 2021.

On 1 January 2021, Great Britain became a Part 2 listed third country in the EU Pet Travel Scheme, this means that when taking your pet to the EU or Northern Ireland:

  • your pet must be microchipped
  • your pet must have had up-to-date rabies vaccinations at least 21 days before travel
  • dogs have had tapeworm treatment
  • you must obtain an animal health certificate (AHC) from an official vet 10 days before travel. This is valid for 4 months for a single trip to the EU
  • you must enter the EU through a designated Traveller’s Point of Entry (TPE), where your pet will be checked.

Detailed guidance from the Government on pet travel can be found here.

Click here for our advice on travelling safely with your dog

Will there be long queues at ports?

We are confident that passengers travelling to Europe or Ireland 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, travel and vehicle insurance etc.).

Additionally, ferry companies and ports have been working with government and stakeholders, like Local Resilience Forums, to prepare for the changes following the end of the UK’s transition period with the EU. The aim is for freight to continue to move freely through ports on 1 January, ensuring passenger traffic flows seamlessly too. Traffic management systems are tried and tested, mitigating any potential impact on holidaymakers and local residents.

Furthermore, new border requirements will come into force during the low season, when fewer holidaymakers travel. That’s good news because any setbacks with new freight procedures after 31 December will be ironed out well before the start of the holiday season.

Will there be any changes to border control and customs requirements?

At EU border control British citizens may have to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay
  • use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing

You’ll need to declare cash of £10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you take it between the UK and any other country.

Will we be able to benefit from duty free shopping?

Yes, from January 2021 if you are travelling from the UK to the EU and vice versa you will be able to take advantage of duty-free and tax-free shopping on board your ferry.

You will have a duty-free allowance on both your outbound and your return journey, but the allowance for entry into the UK will be higher than the allowance for entry into the EU.  This “duty-free allowance” is what you can bring into the country through Customs without having to declare it or pay any duty or tax.  You do not need to buy the items in a duty-free shop: you are free to buy the items wherever you wish: in a duty-free shop on board the ferry, or in your favourite hypermarket (or vineyard or distillery!) inland.

These new duty-free allowances will replace the current rules which allow you to bring as much as you like of whatever you like with you when travelling between the UK and neighbouring countries.  However, for two adults travelling together to the UK, the new duty-free allowance for wine and beer amounts to a car-boot-full, so you will still be able to travel to the Continent to stock up.

When travelling from the UK to the EU, your duty-free allowance (per adult) will be:

  • 1 litre of spirits
  • 4 litres of still wine
  • 16 litres of beer
  • 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of smoking tobacco
  • and €430 (£398) in other goods

When travelling from the EU to the UK, your duty-paid allowance (per adult) will be:

Alcohol

  • 42 litres of beer
  • 18 litres of still wine
  • 4 litres of spirits OR 9 litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22% ABV

Tobacco

  • 200 cigarettes OR
  • 100 cigarillos OR
  • 50 cigars OR
  • 250g tobacco OR
  • 200 sticks of tobacco for heating
  • or any proportional combination of the above

and £390 worth of other goods.

Will I be able to bring food from Great Britain to the EU?

People travelling from Great Britain to the EU and EEA countries with products of animal origin (POAO), such as anything containing meat or dairy, will need to consume or dispose of them before or at the EU border. The rules will apply for food and drink for personal consumption whether carried in luggage, vehicles, or on their person. These rules apply to all non-EU/EEA countries.

Will mobile phone charges increase?

Possibly. EU rules governing data and roaming charges will no longer apply. Some mobile phone providers have said they will continue free data roaming benefits for their customers, so please check with your provider before travelling to the EU.

Note that a new law means that you’ll now be protected from incurring mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing.