The UK has left the European Union (EU) - here's what you need to know about travelling to the EU from 2021.
Brexit shouldn't derail your travel plans through 2021 and beyond. But things have changed, so you need to make sure you've got the right documents and what to do before your trip.
Here’s what you need to know.
Passport validity rules have changed from January 2021.
Check your passport’s valid and renew it now if you need to.
On the day you travel, your passport will need to:
have at least six months left
If you don’t renew your passport, you could be prevented from travelling to most EU countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
If you have an Irish passport, you can continue using it for EU travel as long as it’s in-date for the length of your stay.
Check with the company you’re travelling with for news of disruptions or delays to your trip and find out from your travel insurance provider whether you’re actually covered for Brexit-related delays.
For years, you’ve been able to get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which lets you access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in another EU country. Although it's no substitute for travel insurance, it’s a valuable addition.
If you already have a valid and in-date card, you can still use it until it expires.
You can't apply for a new EHIC now, but you can get a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) instead. The GHIC works similarly to your old EHIC, it’s just got a new name. It’s free to apply for a GHIC on the NHS website.
Watch out for unofficial sites offering to apply for a GHIC on your behalf – they’ll charge a fee, whereas the official process is always free.
A GHIC or EHIC isn't a replacement for travel insurance, so it's still important to buy a suitable policy before your trip that covers your needs, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad (even if you have an EHIC or GHIC card).
It could save you and your family a lot of money and difficulty if things go wrong before or during your trip.
Travel insurance can cover a trip being cut short or cancelled, loss or theft of possessions and other eventualities, as well as medical expenses.
It’s a good idea to buy travel insurance as soon as possible after booking your trip. That way, you could be covered for issues that stop your trip from going ahead.
When taking out travel insurance you should check:
Take details of your insurance policy with you when you travel, including your policy number and the emergency assistance telephone number.
Give a copy of your policy details to the people you’re travelling with and friends or family back home, in case they need to contact your insurer on your behalf.
If you’re taking your own vehicle to Europe, you now need to carry a 'green card’ with you to prove you're insured.
Contact your insurer to get a green card. Make sure you do this in plenty of time – you might just be able to download and print it, but if your insurer has to post it out to you, allow at least six weeks.
If you're towing a trailer or caravan, it'll need its own green card, in addition to the one you have for the car.
You'll need a GB sticker on your car if there's no GB flag on your number plate and you'll need to bring your vehicle's log book (V5C) with you too.
"The ABI (Association of British Insurers) recommends contacting your provider at least four weeks before you travel to seek advice and get sorted with a green card."Ryan Fulthorpe, car insurance expert at GoCompare
You can no longer use a GB-issued pet passport to bring your dog, cat or ferret into the EU.
Whatever the changes, you should contact a vet at least four months before you travel.
The UK is now classed as a Part Two listed country.
That means that you need to visit an official vet no more than 10 days before you travel to get an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) confirming that your pet is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. You need to do this for every trip.
Your pet will need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies at least 21 days before travel.
Dogs will also need to be treated for tapeworm before returning to the UK.
The guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway has ended.
You'll need to check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges before you travel – although several major UK mobile providers have said that they won't be reintroducing roaming charges in the immediate term.
You’re legally 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.
You now need to qualify for entry to EU countries in the same way as any other 'third country’ or non-EU national.
While the rules will depend on the country you’re visiting, you’ll only be able to travel without a visa for a limited number of permitted business activities. This includes things like meetings with colleagues, clients or customers as well as attending conferences and exhibitions connected with trade, industry or work.
For anything beyond that, you’ll need a work visa under the rules of the country being visited.
You need to comply with passport and border controls requirements, including:
You should follow the UK Government travel advice before you travel abroad.
Read the latest developments and advice on the end of the transition period here.