Since the start of January, the rules on travelling between the UK and countries within the European Union have changed, after the agreement to uphold the status quo for 11 months post-Brexit ended.
But what do these changes mean for travellers in real terms? At the time of writing the UK is in total lockdown and all non-essential overseas travel is prohibited, so no one’s taking holidays to Europe at the moment, but here’s the App In The Air guide to everything you need to know about post-Brexit travel once borders reopen.
What documents will be needed?
UK citizens will still be able to travel to European countries without a visa for up to six months in a year, and a maximum of 90 days with a 180-day period, as long as they have a passport that is less than 10 years old and with at least six months of validity left on it before they visit.
From 2022 onwards, UK nationals will also have to pay for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) visa-waiver to visit many countries in the Union. Each application carries a €7 fee, and the visa waiver will be valid for three years, allowing an unlimited number of entries to the 26 countries in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within any 180-day period.
Brits will no longer be able to use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes, so it could take longer to cross borders than before.
Will healthcare in Europe still be covered?
All European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) issued before the end of 2020 will remain valid until their expiry dates. Thereafter, UK citizens can apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which will continue to give nationals the right to access free or reduced-cost state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the EU, where treatment becomes medically necessary.
It’s worth noting that the GHIC gives access to treatment at the same cost as residents of the country visited. In some countries, state healthcare is not completely free to residents and travellers may have to pay a contribution towards the cost of their treatment, so private travel insurance is also recommended for peace of mind.
Will living, working or studying in the EU be affected?
No longer benefitting from complete freedom of movement, UK citizens will have to obtain a visa to stay in the EU for any period longer than 90 days. It will become harder to work or start a business in the EU, although there will be special dispensation for those working in a highly skilled jobs and seconded to the EU.
Those who were already legally resident in an EU country before 1 January 2021 will have their rights protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and continue to have broadly the same rights to work, study and access public services and benefits as before the UK left the EU, but it’s possible that some may need to apply for a new residence status to secure their rights.
The UK will not be taking part in the future Erasmus+ programme and will be developing the new Turing scheme to support thousands of students to study and work abroad.
Any other changes?
The EU ban on roaming charges for mobile phones ended on 1 January but, as part of the deal, ‘fair and transparent rates for international mobile roaming’ will apply. Fortunately, a number of UK providers have said they will keep European prices in line with UK charges.
Pet passports are no longer valid, but pets will be allowed to travel from the UK to EU countries, as long as they have an animal health certificate (AHC), having been vaccinated against rabies and microchipped.
In most circumstances UK residents will not need an international driving permit (IDP) to visit and drive in the EU. Drivers will need to take their valid Great Britain or Northern Ireland driving licence with them to drive abroad and, if taking their own vehicle, take their log book (V5C) and insurance certificate.
Want to know more? Keep checking our blog for the latest information about all things travel trends, restrictions and updates.