On the midnight between December 31 and January 1, the clocks will mark not only the beginning of the new year but also the final end of the United Kingdom’s European Union membership.
Alongside the EU membership will also end many benefits for UK nationals, including the benefit of travelling to the rest of the European Union Member States with only an ID.
Starting from January 1, 2021, when the transition period for the UK to leave the EU ends, all Brits travelling to any of the EU countries, excluding Ireland, will need to carry their passports with them and present them at the EU port of entry.
“Until January 1, 2021, you can continue to travel to Europe with your UK passport until it expires,” the UK warns, in a bid to inform its citizens on the measures they must undertake when travelling to EU after this date.
A British passport will be valid to travel to the EU with it, only if it meets all of the criteria listed below:
- Is valid for at least another six months on the day its holder travels to EU
- Is no older than 10 years on the day its holder travels to EU
- Is burgundy or has the words ‘European Union’ on the cover
The government has also warned Britons who hold passports with extra months added from the previous passports, that the extra months will not count.
“If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra month may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed,” the government points out.
The government advises all Brits planning to travel to the EU after December 31, to check whether their passports meet the criteria given above. If not, govt advises it nationals to apply for a new passport before travelling to the countries affected.
The new rules will apply for travel to and between the EU Member States, Schengen Area countries and microstates, excluding Ireland. These countries are Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holy See (Vatican), Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Aside from their passports, UK nationals are already going through other changes as a result of Brexit, including joining third-country lanes at airports, and not those they have used until April 12, as they are reserved solely for the citizens of the EU, EEA and Switzerland.
For short-term trips to the EU, Britons will not need to apply for a visa, as both the EU and UK have agreed to permit each other’s citizens to enter for short-stays with only their passports. Yet, Brits showing at the EU ports of entry must make sure they also have the following with them:
- Proof of return or onward trip
- Sufficient financial means to support stay in the EU
- Proof of health insurance covering the whole EU territory
Moreover, by the end of 2022, Britons will need to obtain an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System), before travelling to the EU.
The latter is a travel system that has been established in a bid of the EU to know who will enter its territory before travellers even arrive at the borders, and will be obligatory for the passport holders of over 60 world countries that so far have benefited from the visa-free entry to the Schengen Area for short-term stays, including UK nationals.