The transition period for the UK leaving the European Union (EU) ended on 31st December 2020. UK holidaymakers and business travellers are still able to travel to Europe. However, there are some extra steps you may need to take now to be ready for your trip in 2021 and beyond. Information for travel from 01 January 2021 has changed not just for travel to EU countries but also for travel to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.
Please ensure that you are familiar with the UK Government advice for people travelling to Europe after Brexit: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021
You must check to see if your passport is still valid. If you have a British passport, you will need to have at least six months left on your passport from the date you depart for the country you are going to for your trip and your passport must have been issued within the last 10 years. Please note that if you renewed your current passport before its expiry date, you may have been granted extra months on top of the usual 10-year validity. These additional months may not count towards the 6-month validity requirement for travel.
The above rules do not apply for travel to Ireland, where you can continue to use your passport as long as it is valid for the length of your stay.
You can use the government’s passport checker to see if you need to renew your passport: https://www.gov.uk/check-a-passport-travel-europe-1-january-2021
If you are travelling as a tourist on a British Passport, you will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. You will be able to stay without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.
You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.
Now that the UK has left the European Union, you may experience delays at border controls in countries outside the EU. You may be required to show a return or onward ticket, show you have enough money for your stay or use separate lanes from EU/EEA and Swiss citizens when queuing to pass through immigration.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you have comprehensive travel insurance with sufficient healthcare cover, including cover for existing medical conditions and any activities you plan to do. ABTA offers advice on finding the right travel insurance: https://www.abta.com/tips-and-advice/planning-and-booking-a-holiday/travel-insurance
If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) that was issued prior to 31 December 2020, it will remain valid up to its expiry date for travel in EU countries except in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
Once your EHIC has expired, you can apply to replace it with the new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) that can continue to be used from 1 January 2021 in EU countries. However, the new GHIC card will not be valid for visits to Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. Some people may be eligible to apply for a new UK-issued EHIC card which will cover you for necessary healthcare state services in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. For details of eligibility and how to apply for the GHIC or new UK EHIC see: https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-uk-global-health-insurance-card-ghic/
GHIC or EHIC cards entitle you to state provided medical treatment that may become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is on the same terms as EU nationals. A GHIC or EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both before you travel. It does not cover all health-related costs, for example, medical repatriation, ongoing medical treatment, and non-urgent treatment.
You will not be able to take meat, milk or any products containing them into EU countries from 01 January 2021.There are some exceptions, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website: https://ec.europa.eu/food/animals/animalproducts/personal_imports_en
You will need a certificate to take certain plants and plant products into EU countries from 01 January 2021. Check the rules about taking plants and plant products into the EU on the European Commission website: https://ec.europa.eu/food/plant/plant_health_biosecurity/non_eu_trade_en
If you plan to drive in Europe, you may need an International Driving Permit to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have a paper driving licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man. You may need more than one depending on where you are visiting. Each permit costs £5.50 and is available from certain branches of the Post Office.
Find out more about getting an International Driving Permit: https://www.postoffice.co.uk/identity/international-driving-permit
Green cards for insurance
If you are driving your own car in Europe, you may need to obtain and carry a physical Green Card for your UK car insurance to be valid in the EU. These cards will be available from your car insurance provider, but you may be charged a small fee to cover administration costs.
GB car stickers
You may need a GB sticker for your own car when driving in the EU from 01 January 2021 onwards.
From 01 January 2021 you will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. Instead, you will need an animal health certificate (AHC) for your pet. Allow at least 1 month to arrange this and relevant vaccinations. For more information: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-from-1-january-2021
Following the UK’s departure as a member of the EU, changes have been made to the allowances you can bring into the country without paying tax or duty. Further details: https://www.gov.uk/duty-free-goods/arriving-in-Great-Britain
From 01 January 2021, rules around mobile data roaming whilst in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway are changing, meaning you may face charges when using your phone abroad, including for making calls, sending messages, or using the internet. Check with your mobile phone provider about their data roaming policy. However, a new law means that you are protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing. Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet whilst you are abroad. Your mobile phone provider can tell how you can do this.