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Brexit FAQs

By 16/06/2020September 21st, 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 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 with you to Europe or the island of Ireland as you need to contact your vet at least 1 month before you go

Will my current passport be valid for travel to Europe?

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 date, or five years for a child.

British travellers 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.

The option to allow EU citizens to enter the UK using an ID card will be withdrawn from 1 October 2021 for most EU visitors to the UK. You can still use ID cards if you have applied to the EU Settlement Scheme by 30 June 2021 or otherwise have protected rights under the Citizens’ Rights Agreements. Travelling with a full passport is, of course, always a safe option. You should check that your passport meets the new validity rules now using the government passport checker: gov.uk/passport-europe-2021

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. You should allow up to 10 weeks for your new passport when applying from the UK. Updated processing times for overseas applications will vary.

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. Check the travel advice for each country you’re visiting for more information.

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 2020, 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 (GHIC) to replace the EHIC. Once your EHIC expires, you can apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), free of charge, online at nhs.uk/ghic.

If you are travelling to Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway or Switzerland, your card may not be valid. You should get appropriate travel insurance which covers your health needs. A UK passport can be used to get medically necessary healthcare in Norway. Read more travel advice information.

EHICs and GHICs are not an alternative to travel insurance. Full information on getting the right travel insurance is available at gov.uk/foreign-travel-insurance.

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

You do not need an international driving permit (IDP) to visit and drive in the EU, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein. You might need an IDP to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have:
– A paper driving license
– A license that was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man
Check the requirements with the embassy of the country you will be driving in.

Check here if you need an IDP.

You will not need an IDP to drive when visiting Ireland if you have a UK driving license.

You can get an IDP over the counter at the Post Office. An IDP costs £5.50 and drivers must:
– Be a resident of Great Britain or Northern Ireland
– Have a full UK driving license
– Be 18 or over

UK Motorists driving their own vehicle to Europe do not need to obtain a motor insurance green card, however they do need to carry proof of valid insurance, their vehicle log book (V5C) and, from 28 September 2021, need to display a UK sticker on the vehicle. You will need to display a UK sticker on the rear of your vehicle if your number plate has:

– A GB identifier with the Union flag (also known as the Union Jack)
– A Euro symbol
– A national flag of England, Scotland or Wales
– No flag or identifier at all – numbers and letters only
If you have a GB sticker on the vehicle, you’ll need to cover or remove it.

You need to display a UK sticker if you are driving in Cyprus, Malta or Spain, regardless of your number plate. Check gov.uk/visit-europe-2021 for further information on the new documents you will require.

Full information on driving in Europe is available at gov.uk/driving-eu-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. From 2 August 2021 it will not be necessary to obtain a Green Card, but you will need to carry valid insurance documents with you while abroad.

Click here for more information on driving abroad.

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

No, not for taking a caravan or trailer to the EU (including Ireland), Andorra, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Serbia, or Switzerland. If you are planning to drive elsewhere in Euorpe you will need a separate green card.

You need to register some commercial and non-commercial trailers before towing them to or through most EU and EEA countries. Find out more about trailer registration.

Will my European breakdown cover be affected by EU exit?

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.

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 if you’re travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta
  • 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 / Northern Ireland
  • you must enter the EU / Northern Ireland through a designated Traveller’s Point of Entry (TPE), where your pet will be checked.

There is no change to the pet travel health requirements for entry into Great Britain, Great Britain continues to accept EU pet passports.

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. To check the guidance or obtain an online form, visit gov.uk/guidance/taking-cash-in-and-out-of-great-britain.

If you are leaving or entering the UK temporarily, including on a business trip, you do not need to declare your laptop or mobile phone to customs.

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.

Some exemptions apply, including certain amounts of powdered infant milk or pet food for medical reasons. Check the new rules on the European Commission website.

A phytosanitary certificate is required to take certain plants and plant products (including most fruits and vegetables) into EU countries. Check the rules for travelling from a non-EU country into the EU on the European Commission website.

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.