Holidays: Europe post-Brexit travel advice provided by expert
No Deal Brexit is looking like an increasingly likely outcome for the UK’s divorce from the European Union. The EU’s Covid restrictions right now means citizens from non-EU countries are essentially banned from entering for non-essential reasons, which includes holidays and tourism. Exceptions are generally only made for countries with an extremely low infection rate, and at the moment, Britain doesn’t quite slot into that requirement.
Seven things to know before travelling after Brexit
Passports and visas
Citizens from the UK travelling to EU countries will need to make sure their passport is valid for at least the next six months.
The rush to get new passports means there are currently huge delays in issuing them.
And it’s worth noting, these rules don’t apply when travelling to Ireland, as Common Travel Area rules on travel documents won’t change.
Citizens of the EU, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein can, from the New Year, still travel using their passport or ID card and won’t need a visa for a short stay of up to three months.
However, the UK will only accept passports – not ID cards – from October 1, and UK citizens who are resident in the EU have to use their passports to travel.
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The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which enables UK nationals to state-provided medical treatment in any EU country, will no longer be valid for most Brits.
Government advice says people should buy appropriate travel insurance with healthcare before travelling.
The advice is particularly important for those with underlying health issues or pre-existing medical conditions, as these aren’t covered by most travel insurance policies.
From January 1, EU citizens are also being recommended to take out private health insurance when travelling to Britain as the EHIC will no longer be valid in the UK.
No matter how you travel to the continent after January, chances are you will encounter long queues.
The Schengen Borders Code requires a manual check of non-EU nationals’ passports that can only be performed by a border patrolman.
That means swanning through the gates is very unlikely for Brits until at least 2022 when the EU is changing its rules to move towards an automated IT system for non-EU nationals.
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British motorists will have to present a ‘GB’ sticker on their cars, as well as a vehicle logbook and an insurance certificate.
They may also need an international driving permit to drive in Europe, although it is as of yet unclear which countries, if any, will require one.
If travelling by caravan or trailer, Brits will also need a separate Green Card, and the Government website recommends contacting an insurance provider six weeks before travel.
EU citizens driving in the UK won’t need an international driving permit, but they will have to provide proof of insurance.
Duty-free and customs
From January 1, duty-free shopping will be extended to British tourists coming back from Europe.
Brits will be able to buy a certain amount of alcohol duty-free, as well as tobacco products in Britain’s ports, airports, and international train stations.
The limits are set at 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco.
But the rules don’t apply to Northern Ireland, and there will be a requirement to declare cash of £10,000 or more.
Under the current EU Passport scheme, cats, dogs and ferrets can travel freely between the UK and EU, providing pets have rabies injections, are microchipped and have a pet passport at least 21 days before travel.
The UK has submitted an application to the European Commission to join a system that enables animals with valid EU passports to travel with their owners between countries without having to quarantine.
But that hasn’t been confirmed yet, and until it has been, the Government suggests owners get in touch with vets four months before travel to ensure there’s enough time to send a blood sample to an EU approved testing lab.
For people travelling to the UK from the EU, Britain has said it will, for now, continue to accept the EU Pet Passport.
The EU’s free-roaming policy for mobile phones will no longer be guaranteed for Brits travelling in Europe.
However, a number of UK-based operators said they “currently” have no plans to reintroduce roaming charges.
The UK Government has passed legislation providing some safety for customers, including monthly limits on the amount travellers can be charged before having to opt-in on further use.
For Europeans coming to Britain, the Government says: “You will pay the same for calls, texts and mobile data in the UK and the EU if you have a SIM card issued by a mobile phone network from an EU or EEA country.”
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