*Please note: this post is based on information sourced on the 17th of November 2020 and may change, subject to EU and Brexit negotiations*
UK citizens’ consumer travel rights will largely remain the same, even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Based on current agreements, general UK government documents state most tourists’ experience travelling to Europe will stay the same. Access to EU countries should not change for visitors and holiday makers looking to stay in Europe for up to 90 days.
Key areas for consideration:
1. Entry into European countries
The majority UK travellers entry rights will remain the same after the UK leaves the EU.
2. Travelling by car
British drivers may need extra documentation, such as an international driving license, when looking to rent a car in Europe. British registered cars will also need a ‘green card’ and must have a GB sticker. Drivers will need to carry a physical green card in order for UK car insurance to be valid in the EU. These cards will be available from your car insurance provider, but you may be charged a small fee to cover administration costs.
3. Duration of stay
The EU has agreed to add the UK to the EU’s list of visa-exempt countries. This gives British citizens the right to travel to the EU after the transition period for up to 90 days without a visa within any 180-day period. It would be conditional on the UK granting visa-free travel to EU citizens to the UK. Visas for short business trips and longer visits to the EU will be a matter for negotiation between the UK and the EU.
After the transition, EU border guards may ask people travelling from the UK for additional information including the duration and purpose of their stay.
British passports will change colour. British passports will need to be renewed if they have less than six months remaining or are more than 10 years old. These rules will not apply to Ireland.
5. Health insurance / European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
Health insurance will be required. Tourists will be expected to consider larger insurance policies, which will see travel costs increase. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is likely not to be valid after the 31st December 2020 for British citizens.
British citizens are now expected to ensure they have travel insurance with the right cover, particularly if the traveller has a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.
6. Traveling with animals
UK residents are recommended to consider the organisation of pet travel, with the UK government recommending travellers contact a vet at least four months before they go.
7. Entry into a country
At border control, British citizens may have to show a return ticket and proof of enough money to cover the cost of your stay. They also will have to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing.
8. Entry visas
Tourists will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Travellers will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total. Travellers may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.
9. Travel protection
Tourists booking holidays via third parties (tour operators and agents) will still be protected if they buy a package holiday and the company goes out of business. Cover will be guaranteed even if it’s an EU company, as long as the company targets UK customers. Otherwise, consumers can claim compensation if they use their credit card. British passport holders will continue to be able to claim for payments between £100 and £30,000.
10. Mobile phone roaming
From 1st January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end. Travellers will need to check with their phone operator to find out about any roaming charges from 1st January 2021. A new law means that travellers are protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without them knowing. Once they reach £45, they may need to opt in to spend more in order to continue using the internet while they’re abroad.