Three young children holding onto the rail whilst on the sundeck of a P&O ferry.

Travelling to the EU by ferry

As the UK is no longer part of the EU there are 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 Brexit 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 ferry routes.

Due to the UKs new relationship with the EU there are some changes to travel requirements to the EU which we have highlighted below. 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: the date of issue must be less than 10 years ago on the day you enter the EU, and the expiry date needs to be at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave.
  • Check you’re covered for healthcare while abroad
  • Check you have the correct 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

Passport validity 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. This may differ for travel to and from countries that are in the EU but not in the Schengen area. You should check that your passport meets the entry requirements of the country you are visiting by using the government travel advice website: gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice 

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The option to allow EU citizens to enter the UK using an ID card was withdrawn on 1 October 2021 for most EU visitors to the UK.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.

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. You can do this via the Post Office or online. Further details on how to do this can be found at gov.uk/renew-adult-passport/renew. You should allow up to 10 weeks for your new passport when applying from the UK. Updated processing times for overseas applications will vary.

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.

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