Travel Information

EU documentation & customs allowances

What documents do I need to enter the EU and what customs allowances are there?

Q&A

  • Is my current passport 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 is less than 10 years old on the date they plan to enter the EU and has at least three months validity when they return from the last country visited in the Schengen Area.

  • Do I need a visa to travel to the EU?

    No, not for your holiday or a short break. UK passport holders do 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.

    From the end of 2023 all citizens of visa-free countries (including the UK) entering the EU will need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) visa-waiver, similar to the ESTA needed to enter the US. The ETIAS will cost €7 and will be valid for 3 years allowing travel within the EU for up to 90 days in 180 days. The exact date of implementation is still to be confirmed. More information on the ETIAS can be found here.

    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.

  • What is the EU biometric entry/ exit system?

    The purpose of the  EU Entry / Exit System (EES) is to automatically register visitors from the UK and other non-EU countries when entering and exiting the EU.

    The new system will register a visitor’s passport and biometric data, in the form of finger prints and a facial image, and will digitally track the number of days non-EU visitors stay in the bloc.

    The new system is due to launch at EU borders in 2023, though the exact date is still to be announced.

  • What is ETIAS and when do I need to apply for one?

    The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is a largely automated IT system created to identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the EU Schengen States. Non-EU nationals, including UK nationals, do not need a visa to travel to the Schengen area but from the end of 2023 will have to apply for a travel authorisation through the ETIAS online system prior to their trip. The ETIAS travel authorisation will be a mandatory pre-condition for entry to the Schengen States. It will be checked together with the travel documents by the border guards when crossing the EU border.

    The ETIAS will cost €7 for all applicants aged 18-70. It will be valid for 3 years for stays of up to 90 days in 180 days.

    It is expected that the ETIAS system will start at the end of 2023, though the exact date has not yet been announced. More information on the ETIAS can be found here.

  • Can I still use my European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?

    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.

  • Can I take advantage of Duty-Free shopping?

    Yes, if you are travelling from the UK to an EU country or vice versa you can take advantage of duty-free and tax-free shopping on board your ferry.

    Your “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.

Driving in Europe

Q&A

  • Do I need a UK sticker on my vehicle?

    Yes. You need a UK sticker to take your vehicle to France, Spain or the Netherlands. The UK sticker has replaced the GB sticker which must be removed.

    You do not need a UK sticker to take your vehicle to Ireland.

  • 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. You will need to carry valid insurance documents with you while abroad.

    Click here for more information on driving abroad.

  • Do I need a motor insurance green card?

    No. UK Motorists driving their own vehicle to Europe do not need to obtain a motor insurance green card.

  • If I am towing a trailer or caravan, do 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.

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