There is just over a month to go before Brexit and, after months of negotiations, Britain and the EU are still trying to secure a trade deal.
Time is desperately running out for the two sides to reach an agreement and there are concerns there won’t be enough time to prepare their countries for a no deal Brexit.
What we do know is that from January 1, 2021, there are going to be new rules for people travelling from the UK to countries in Europe, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
The UK Government has issued advice, but there are still a lot of “may need to” and “might have to” in the official guidance.
Here are the areas they are currently advising on:
Things you may need to do before you go include
- check your passport
- get travel insurance that covers your healthcare
- check you have the right driving documents
- organise pet travel – contact your vet at least four months before you go
There are more things to do if you’re travelling for business. For example, going to meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity), and touring art or music.
The country you’re travelling to for business might have its own entry requirements, or ask you to have certain documents.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
- have at least 6 months left
- be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)
If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel. You can check if your passport is valid here.
These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.
The government says that you should always “get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad”.
European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will only be valid up to December 31, 2020.
They add: “It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
“This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.”
Entering other countries
The Government advice says that at border control, you may need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
- use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing
If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries and you’ll 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.
You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.
Check each country’s travel advice page for information on how to get a visa or permit.
Travel to Ireland will not change and you’ll also be able to work in Ireland in the same way as before.
There is not much information if you plan to driver abroad, but the Government advice says “you may need extra documents” from January 1.
You might need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries. They say that “further detail on this will be available later in 2020”.
An IDP costs £5.50 and drivers must be a Great Britain or Northern Ireland resident, have a full UK driving licence, and be 18 or over.
If you’re taking your own vehicle, you will also need a ‘green card’ and a GB sticker.
A ‘green card’ is proof that you have motor insurance cover when driving abroad. You should plan to carry one for the vehicle you’re driving in the EU and EEA, including in Ireland, from January 1.
You will need to carry multiple green cards if:
- you have fleet insurance – you’ll need a green card for each vehicle
- your vehicle is towing a trailer or caravan – you’ll need one for the towing vehicle and one for the trailer / caravan (you need separate trailer insurance in some countries)
- you have two policies covering the duration of your trip, for example, if your policy renews during the journey
The advice is that you contact your vehicle insurance provider six weeks before you travel to get green cards for your vehicle, caravan or trailer.
The advice is that you allow at least four months to arrange.
From January 1, you will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. Instead you’ll need to follow a different process, which takes four months.
You’ll need to take the following steps.
- You must have your pet microchipped.
- They must be vaccinated against rabies – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated.
- Your pet must have a blood sample taken at least 30 days after its primary rabies vaccination (from a current series of vaccinations). Your vet may recommend a booster rabies vaccination before this test.
- Your pet’s blood sample will be sent to an EU-approved blood testing laboratory.
- Wait three months from the date the successful blood sample was taken before you can travel.
- The vet must give you a copy of the test results and enter the day the blood sample was taken in an animal health certificate (AHC).
You will not be able to travel with your pet if you have not completed these steps.
The guidelines say: “If the blood test result is not successful, you’ll need a repeat vaccination and another blood test taken at least 30 days after the repeat vaccination.”
From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU will end.
The advice is to check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.
A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing.
Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.
If your travel company goes out of business, you’re protected if you buy a package holiday and the company goes out of business. You get this cover even if it’s an EU company, as long as the company targets UK customers.
Otherwise, you can claim compensation if you used your credit card. You’ll continue to be able to claim for payments between £100 and £30,000.
Some travel insurance policies only cover certain types of disruption. Check your provider’s terms and conditions to make sure you have the cover you need if your travel is cancelled or delayed.
Your consumer rights will not change from January 1. This means that if your travel is cancelled or delayed you may be able to claim a refund or compensation. Check your booking’s terms and conditions to find out more.