While families are making plans for the upcoming Easter holidays, and the UK Government continues its efforts to get the withdrawal agreement through Parliament, time is marching on. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, April travel plans might have to be reviewed.
If you are planning on travelling into the EU after Brexit (this excludes travels to Ireland where there will be no changes), here are four key questions to ask yourself.
Have I renewed my passport?
If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK citizens will lose their automatic right to free movement to EU countries (and the same applies to EU citizens in respect of the UK). Although the current official position of both the UK and the EU is that short stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period (into the UK and into the EU and the four Schengen associate states: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland respectively) will be visa-free, you might need to do some paperwork nevertheless.
At the moment, UK nationals, as EU citizens, are able to enter the Schengen area with nothing more than a valid UK passport (the UK is not part of the Schengen area). After exit, UK nationals will become third country nationals. If you’re planning on travelling to and between countries in the Schengen area, your passport will have to comply with the rules that currently apply to third country nationals. Your passport must:
- have been issued within the last 10 years, and
- have a minimum of three months’ validity beyond the planned stay in the Schengen area.
You might find the UK Government’s guidance paper on “Passport rules for travel to Europe after Brexit” useful.
Do I need an International Driving Permit?
At the moment, a UK driving licence is valid everywhere in the EU. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, this will change. If you are planning on driving during your stay in the EU, you will have to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP). You won’t need an IDP for driving in Ireland though, and there are different types of IDP for different countries. You can check the UK Government’s information on “Driving abroad” and the guidance paper on “Prepare to drive in the EU after Brexit” for more detailed information on IDP and other matters including number plates and vehicle insurance.
If you have a full UK driving licence, you can apply for an IDP in any Post Office; however, you should make sure that you will have it in time for your holidays. If you already have a valid IDP, check whether it’s the right type for your destination.
Do I have sufficient travel health insurance?
At the moment, most UK nationals in the UK who travel regularly into the EU can rely on the European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC. At present, the EHIC covers necessary treatment anywhere within the EU (as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and on the same basis as a resident of that country. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, access to healthcare in the EU will be different; the protection offered by the EHIC will come to an end. Although there may be transitional arrangements and emergency measures put in place, it is unclear at the moment what those will be.
It is advisable to get private travel insurance prior to travelling to the EU, or indeed to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. You may find the information published by the NHS useful.
Is my pet ready to travel?
If you are planning to travel with your pet, you will have to make sure that it is allowed into the EU after Brexit. In the event of a “hard” Brexit, the UK will be treated as an “unlisted” country. This means that you have to comply with certain health and documentation requirements: dogs and cats (and indeed ferrets) need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before they are allowed to enter the EU. Keep in mind when planning your holidays that this process takes up to four months. A UK pet passport will not be valid for travel into the EU.