As confusion reigns among UK citizens and many international travelers about European travel post Brexit, let’s look at what we do know.
According to a recent survey by Discover Ferries, the U.K. ferry system operator, British travelers are most uncertain about travel to EU countries in terms of passports, healthcare, pets, driving and duty-free shopping.
Thanks to The Guardian newspaper, some traveler guidance is available just days after the final break with the European Union on Dec. 30, 2020.
COVID-19 Makes EU Travel Difficult
Brexit is not the only concern. For international travelers, myriad COVID-19 related restrictions make travel to any of the European Union countries confusing and challenging.
However, citizens of Great Britain, where a novel and more contagious strain of the coronavirus was recently detected, are under even more strict travel constraints. In addition to rules governing international borders, UK citizens face differing regulations traveling between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A complete lockdown instituted Jan. 5 and expected to last until mid-February bans all non-essential holiday travel in the UK or abroad. Unless your journey is for a reasonable excuse as defined by the government, travel is subject to fines beginnning at GBP 200 per offense.
If you and your family are returning from holidays or any travel including a stop in Great Britain, check in advance regarding current border regulations.
Good News for Travel Post Brexit if You Hold a UK Passport
Travelers should feel more secure knowing that all sides want to protect tourism and the free flow of visitors between countries. Great Britain has long been a robust contributor to travel and trade revenues throughout Europe. Research by ABTA, the British travel authority, estimates that British citizens took 66 million trips to E.U. countries in 2019.
The burgundy colored and newer navy blue British passports with an expiry date greater than six months from departure remain valid for global travel and only a photo I.D. will be required for travel to Ireland.
The ETIAS Program is Coming Soon
Nearly two years ago – prior to Brexit — the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee approved a European Commission proposal designed to ensure visa-free travel for EU and UK citizens. Visa free travel is currently open to UK citizens for short stays in the European Union, and EU citizens are able to do the same in the UK. These regulations are currently in effect for stays of less than 90 days in any 180-day period.
The ETIAS visa system goes into effect late 2021 or early 2002 as part of an international treaty between the Schengen Zone countries to safeguard their borders. (Read more about the ETIAS program.)
The ETIAS online registry system will affect all travelers of any age from 60 countries visiting any Schengen Zone country and requires a fee and registration prior to travel.
Health Insurance for Travelers is Vital
Brexit has affected several other programs that British travelers rely on. Millions of British citizens hold an Ehic, a European Health Insurance Card that covers state-provided medical treatment in EU and other countries.
While the EU says all Ehic cards will remain valid until the expiry date noted on the card, the British government is cautioning U.K. citizens to purchase specific travel insurance policies themselves. Do your homework and be sure to purchase policies with enough lead time so that any pre-existing medical conditions are covered.
Travel Post Brexit with Pets, Phones and Vehicles
Pet owners who travel with their animals should apply for an animal health certificate, which must be issued by your vet within 10 days of departure. It is valid for up to four months of EU travel with one exit and entry into Britain. Check with your veterinarian regarding required shots in the destinations you plan to visit. The UK Pet Passport is no longer valid.
Customers of UK based cellular companies will have to inquire regarding data roaming charges once they leave the UK. Past policies which waived fees for mobile use in the E.U. may not be extended by the individual companies.
Families on road trips will need to have more paperwork as well, including a green card issued by auto insurance providers to verify coverage. Drivers will need a current driver’s license, V5C log book and, depending on where your driver’s license was issued, may need an International Drivers Permit.
Tourism and Travel Post Brexit
Next, we are waiting to learn how a coronavirus vaccine, travel health passports, contact tracing technology and other innovations will affect Europe travel.
How will the agonizing economics of 2020 impact the low-cost carriers who have connected UK and EU citizens to the entire world and opened vast new territories to tourism?
And how will this affect visa requirements for travelers from other countries?
Stay tuned. Your comments welcome below.
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