BRITAIN has now officially left the European Union – but what does that mean for those of us who plan to travel to the Continent in the future?
While nothing much will change during 2020 while we remain in the transition period, that will not be the case from 2021.
Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein will change from January 1 2021, the government has confirmed – and guidance has been issued on what may change significantly from that date. The major issues include:
• Mobile data roaming
• Pet travel
• Border control
• Driving documentation
You may need to renew your British passport earlier if you’re travelling from January 1, 2021.
Your passport will need to be less than 10-year-old and have at least six months left.
If you do not renew it, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, the government has warned.
These rules do not apply if you’re travelling to Ireland and you can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.
It should take three weeks to renew a passport – but there’s a premium service if you need it.
Free data roaming – which came into effect after the EU passed it into law in 2017 – may end.
Whether or not you will still have free data roaming within the EU after 2021 will depend on your phone operator.
A new law means that you’re 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 while you’re abroad.
Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which gave you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another EU country, may not be valid.
You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad.
It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.
You will not longer be able to use the existing pet passport scheme.
Instead, there is now a four-month long process.
There’s guidance here.
Border control and travel
If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.
Check each country’s travel advice page for information on how to get a visa or permit.
Travel to Ireland will not change from January 1 2021. You’ll also be able to work in Ireland in the same way as before.
At border control, you 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 will need an international driving permit to drive in some countries.
There’s a full list here.
If you’re taking your own vehicle, you’ll also need:
• A ‘green card’ – allow 1 month to get this from your vehicle insurance company
• A GB sticker
If you travel is disrupted
Your consumer rights will not change from 1 January 2021.
This means that if your travel is cancelled or delayed you may be able to claim a refund or compensation
If your travel company goes out of business
You’re protected if you buy a package holiday and the company goes out of business.
You get this cover even if it’s an EU company, as long as the company targets UK customers.
Otherwise, you can claim compensation if you used your credit card.
You’ll continue to be able to claim for payments between £100 and £30,000.