Last updated: 31 October 2019
This page is updated regularly due to the ever-changing nature of the subject.
Whether you support or oppose Brexit, there is no denying that it is a major political challenge that affects nearly all aspects of our lives including travelling to the continent.
Over 32 million Britons holiday in the EU each year. Many of our 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 are taking extra steps to make sure you are aware of any measures you may need to consider before or during travelling.
The EU is to thank for many travel laws and regulations that are currently in place in the UK like financial protection for package holidays, cheaper flights to more locations, compensation for delayed flights, caps on mobile roaming charges, access to free healthcare and cleaner beaches. Thankfully, there are safeguards in place that will see many of these regulations transferred into British law once the UK has left the EU.
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.
- We're ABTA and ATOL protected. This means you have the benefit of ABTA’s assistance and Code of Conduct. All the package and Flight-Plus holidays we sell are covered by a scheme protecting your money if the supplier fails.
- If the UK were to leave the European Union without a deal you will still be able to fly between the UK and the EU.
- You will not need a VISA to travel, even without a deal.
- Your passport will still be valid but you should have more than 6 months remaining.
- If you plan to drive in the EU, you may need an International Drivers Permit and a Green Card for insurance.
How does the Brexit decision affect my holiday?
The UK is still officially part of the EU; therefore British passport holders are still free to travel between the UK and EU, as they were prior to the referendum.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) says that while some things may change after Brexit there's no reason to be concerned when booking a holiday.
- European Health Insurance Card and Travel Insurance
- Driving Licences
- Green Cards for Car Insurance
- Taking Pets Abroad
- Data Roaming
- Package Travel Regulations & Consumer rights
- Overseas visitors
You can continue to use your British passport to travel to Europe. Your passport is a British document, it's not an EU passport, so your passport will stay the same.
However, if your adult passport was issued over 9 years ago, you may be affected. You should use this tool to check your passport is still valid for your trip before booking travel.
Adult and child passports should have at least 6 months remaining from your date of travel. If you renewed your passport early, extra months would have been added to your new passport. These extra months will not count towards this so some passport holders will need to have more than 6 months remaining in order to travel.
You will no longer be able to use the 'EEA/EU Citizens' lane at border passport controls once the UK has left the EU.
The European Parliament has confirmed that UK travellers won’t need a visa to travel the EU after Brexit, even if the UK leaves without a deal. UK citizens will be able to visit the EU for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa.
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.
The NHS website provides comprehensive information about healthcare abroad.
ABTA issued advice on travel insurance may be found here.
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 post-Brexit 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 rolled these out in more branches across the UK.
Some EU and EEA countries may also require a separate Green Card as proof of insurance for caravans and trailers. If you are travelling with a caravan or trailer, you will need two Green Cards: one for the towing vehicle, and one for the caravan or trailer. For each country you intend to drive in, check which permit you require as you may need more than one to comply with the law.
More information is available here.
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 post-Brexit.
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 31 January 2020 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.
The rules for taking your pet to any EU country will change if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.
You must get your dog or cat microchipped and then vaccinated against rabies before it can travel.
More information is available here.
Currently you can travel in the EU with guaranteed surcharge-free roaming. This means you can use your mobile devices to make calls, send texts and use mobile data services for no more than you would be charged when in the UK.
Once the UK has left the EU, it is likely that roaming will remain surcharge-free however the amount that EU mobile operators would be able to charge UK operators for providing roaming services would no longer be regulated. This would mean that surcharge-free roaming when you travel to the EU could no longer be guaranteed.
Most UK mobile operators (incl EE, Vodafone, Three and o2) have confirmed that they will not be reintroducing roaming charges.
Customers who book a package holiday with a UK travel company enjoy the most comprehensive consumer protection: if you book a package, your holiday will be protected under the Package Travel Regulations, meaning you have a right to a full refund if your holiday can no longer be provided.
The UK Government has confirmed that the Package Travel Regulations will remain in the UK law when the UK leaves the EU.
Your consumer rights in regards to travelling will remain largely unchanged.
You will have the same rights under UK law in the event of denied boarding, cancellation or long delay of passenger air, rail, road or sea services. For EU registered passenger transport operators, EU law will continue to apply in respect of journeys to and from the EU.
There has been no change to visa & passport requirements for visitors from non-EU countries. Your passport must be valid for 3 months beyond your stay and issued within the past 10 years. Visas are not normally required for US, Australian, New Zealand or Canadian nationals dependent upon your length of stay.
Flights should continue as normal after Brexit. Both the UK and EU want flights to continue without any disruption. There will be no impact to direct flights to non-EU countries.
Before you leave for the airport, check online for the latest travel information and scheduled services from your airline.
Aviation security for passengers
From 31 January 2020, if there is no EU Exit deal, most passengers will not experience any difference in aviation security screening. The UK will continue to apply robust aviation security measures and prioritise passenger safety and security.
The European Commission has proposed measures to avoid extra security screening of passengers from the UK when transferring to onward flights at EU airports.
Ferry services and cruises will still sail as the majority of the rules under which they operate are not based on EU rules, but are international.
Brittany Ferries have been awarded the contract by the Department of Transport to ensure medical and clinical supplies can reach the UK from the EU without disruption. Their booking team should contact you if your booking is affected.
It is expected that Eurostar trains from the UK to the EU will continue to operate. We would advise you to check before you travel to see if there is any cancellations, delays or additional information you need to be aware of.
Recommended additional reading:
You may also like to read:
- Passport rules for travelling after Brexit
- Package travel after Brexit
- Healthcare for Holidaymakers after Brexit
- Aviation and security after Brexit
- Eurostar travel after Brexit
- Brexit & the law