The uncertainty of Brexit has consumed the news for the last few years. Finally, at 11pm on 31 January 2020 the UK left the European Union. Even so, until 31 December 2020 there is a transition period whereby the previous travel arrangements for the UK and the EU continue to apply.
New rules on trade, travel, and business currently under negotiation will take effect on 1 January 2021. Meanwhile, is there any certainty how travel around Europe will change?
Holidays in the EU
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) helpfully reminds travellers that until 31 December 2020 travel rules 'remain the same' as during the EU membership period. Even so, travel overseas during 2020 depends on guidance from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
If you booked a package deal you'll still have consumer protection under the EU package travel regulation. So if your package holiday can't be provided before 1 January 2021, you'd have the right to a full refund.
Will I need a new passport?
The use of your passport depends its date of expiry. UK passports are valid for 10 years, but may have additional months due to unspent time if the previous passport was renewed early.
If it expires during 2020, you'll need to renew or replace your passport as usual. It will be valid for 10 years.
The situation changes on 1 January 2021.
The burgundy European Union UK passport can still be used in Europe until its 10 year expiry date. However, any additional months may no longer be accepted as valid.
Also, on 1 January there should be at least 6 months left on your passport, excluding any months added to the passport's 10 years. This restriction doesn't apply if you're travelling to the Republic of Ireland.
What about visas or other documents?
From 1 January 2021 you can visit Europe for short trips without a visa, for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
What if I'm travelling by car or ferry?
If you're travelling to or between EU countries by ferry, you won't need any additional documents apart from your passport. Ferry travel is covered under international maritime convention, so it won't be affected by the UK leaving the EU.
Driving in Europe will change from the start of 2021. You'll certainly need to take your:
- driving licence
- certificate of insurance
- vehicle's log book (V5C)
An IDP won't be required for driving in the Republic of Ireland.
AA Members should remember that UK breakdown cover isn't valid when you're driving abroad. You'll need to get European Breakdown Cover for driving in Europe.
Will my travel insurance be affected?
If you've got your travel insurance sorted already, your insurer should tell you if leaving the EU will make any significant changes to your policy and the cover.
Otherwise, if you're still planning your holiday check what the insurance covers. The more comprehensive the policy, the more likely you'll be covered for delays and disruption.
Can I still use my European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) remains valid until 31 December 2020. Unlike some travel insurance policies, the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing health conditions.
From 2021 the EHIC might no longer be be valid, so you should prepare to get travel insurance with the cover you need. We've got more about the EHIC here.
Is my phone data going to be covered?
Currently there's no mobile roaming surcharge for using your phone in the EU – for texts, calls and using the internet. Surcharge-free roaming will continue until 31 December 2020.
Your mobile operator must tell you if they intend to reintroduce a roaming surcharge in 2021. At present, the mobile operators have no plans to reintroduce a surcharge.