How is Brexit, the historic split between the U.K. and the EU, going to change travel policies between the U.K. and other countries? On January 31, 2020, the U.K. formally left the EU. This guide will help travelers understand how Brexit affects their itineraries, and offers advice on how to plan for travel between the UK and Europe now that the UK is separate from the EU and its regulations.
What changes now?
To be honest, there won’t be too many immediate changes as the U.K and EU are now entering a transition period. This transition period will end on December 31, 2020. Until then, most of the EU laws will still apply, including freedom of movement. This law allows easy travel to and from the U.K. as well as the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. This means that there will not be customs checks or fees on trade and goods transferred between the U.K. and E.U.
The transition period is due to end on December 31, 2020. This means that, as of January 1, 2021, the terms of travel for U.K. citizens between the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein will most likely change. No changes will apply for travel to and from Ireland.
Here is a quick overview as to what might change after the Brexit transition period is over.
- Check your passport.
Passports must have at least 6 months left of validity. They must be less than 10 years old (even if there are 6 months or more left).
- Travel and healthcare insurance
Although the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) will still be valid during the transition period, you must make sure to get appropriate coverage after January 1, 2021.
This is uncertain, but U.K. residents might need an international driving permit to travel in Europe after January 1, 2021, and possibly an insurance green card as well.
Airport security procedures should not be affected for direct flights to and from the U.K. When changing flights in EU airports, there will be no anticipated flight or security delays at EU airports.
- Consumer rights
No changes to consumer rights will come into effect until January 1, 2021. After this date, it is advisable to check your booking terms and conditions to find out more.
No visas for short tourist trips will be necessary if traveling to the EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Tourists will be able to stay up to 90 days in any 180-day period. It is always recommended to check the travel advice page of the country you are traveling to.
No changes for travel to and from Ireland will apply.
- Border control
A few changes at border control may come into effect after January 1, 2021, including showing your ticket to and from the U.K., proving that you have enough money for your stay, and using separate lanes from EU, EEA (European Economic Area), and Swiss citizens.
The existing passport requirements will end on January 1, 2021 and a new process will be put into place which will increase the wait time up to 4 months.
No guarantee is given about free roaming calls throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
It is advisable to check with your operator before travelling to the U.K.
It is always advisable to check with the country you are traveling to/from to ensure all documents are in order.
For more information about tourist travel, please check this page.
For British citizens living abroad, please check this page.