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Brexit - What we know and how it will affect UK travellers

Advice for UK travellers on actions you may need to take if you are travelling in or to the EU after 29 March 2019

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Last updated: 29/11/2019

Whether you support or oppose Brexit, there is no denying that it is a major political challenge that affects nearly all aspects of your daily life from where your food comes from and how much it costs to travel regulations and the economy. While some scenarios can be brushed off as scaremongering, there are some that have truth behind them especially when it comes to touring in and to the EU after the 29th March 2019.

Hailed as a major milestone in negotiations, the UK Government and the EU Member States have agreed on a Withdrawal Agreement for when the UK leaves the EU next March. The next step will see the UK Parliament and EU Parliament debate and vote on the agreement, which means there is still some time before consumers and businesses know what exactly Brexit means for travel after the end of March next year. 

Many UK customers have already booked their travel for next year or are planning to book soon so, to avoid any unnecessary disruption to your travel plans, we at Alan Rogers are taking steps to make sure you are aware of any measures you may need to consider before or during travelling.

We feel this is particularly important given that the date the UK leaves the EU and the weeks immediately afterwards coincide with the start of some Easter school holidays; so it will be a busy period for travel.

As a member of ABTA, we are being updated continually on the situation and the effects it will inevitably have on the travel sector. We've identified specific actions UK customers may need to take in advance, the information only covers areas where you can take reasonable action or put plans into place now. Areas where the situation is still unclear, are not included, but the information will be updated once clarified.


Passports

We advise that you check the date that your passport expires. When travelling to the EU after 29 March 2019, the UK government recommends that you have six months left on your passport on the date of your arrival to an EU country.

You should also check when your passport was last renewed. If you replaced a 10-year adult passport before it expired, extra months might have been added to your passport’s expiry date. These additional months over 10-years will not count towards the six months that must be remaining. The UK Government has published a website tool to check the validity of your passport under these rules.

You can renew your passport online or by going to a Post Office with a Check and Send service.

You may wish to renew your passport sooner rather than later, to make sure you have it in time for your holiday or travel plans.


European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK registered EHICs will no longer be valid.

ABTA has always advised holidaymakers and business customers to make sure they have appropriate travel insurance, whether they have an EHIC card or not, as there are limitations to EHIC.

When travelling in the EU and beyond, it is essential you take out travel insurance and check that it covers your current circumstances, including any medical conditions. If you have an annual policy, make sure you check the Terms and Conditions and contact your insurance provider if you’re not sure.

ABTA issued advice on travel insurance may be found here


Driving licences

As long as you have a full UK driving licence, you don’t currently need an additional licence to operate a vehicle in the EU. It is likely that this will change in a no-deal scenario. UK customers looking to drive in the EU on or after 29 March 2019 may need to apply for the relevant International Driving Permit.

These cost £5.50 and are available directly from the AA, the RAC or the Post Office. The Government is working to extend the network of Post Offices where you can apply for an International Driving Permit and has plans to roll these out in more branches across the UK from 1 February 2019.

For each country check which permit you require you intend to drive in, as you may need more than one to comply with the law.

More information is available here


Green cards for car insurance

If the UK leaves without a deal, UK citizens driving their vehicle within the EU would be required to obtain and carry a physical Green Card for your UK car insurance to be applicable in the EU. Insurers issue these cards, and you may be charged a small fee to cover administration costs.

Speak with your insurer for more information on obtaining a Green Card for any trip on or after 29 March 2019.


Taking pets abroad

In the event of a no-deal, pets would continue to be able to travel from the UK to the EU, but the requirements for documents and health checks would change. If you wish to take your pet to the EU on or after 29 March, 2019 pet owners would need to discuss preparations for their pet’s travel with an Official Veterinarian at least four months in advance of the date they wish to travel. Pet owners should keep an eye out for any further instructions issued by the UK Government.

More information is available here.


Data roaming

Under EU rules, the cost of making calls, sending messages or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same in the UK. If the UK leaves without a deal, these rules will no longer apply – however, some UK companies have said they may continue to offer this benefit to their customers. Before you travel, check with your mobile phone provider about the costs of using your phone in the EU.

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