Now that we’re in a post-Brexit reality, travel to Europe has become more bureaucratic and complicated. With changes in place, and more to come, you can at least take the sting out of the planning with the right info. So to help you out, here’s a guide to some of the essential information you’ll need to know before you pack your bags for a city break, short holiday or business trip.
How Many Days a Year Can I Spend in Europe After Brexit?
Tourists can stay in EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Lichtenstein for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Most of these countries apply the 90 day limit as a group, so keep that in mind if you’re booking a multi-country trip.
It’s worth noting that not all EU countries are currently part of the Schengen Area (the world’s largest visa-free zone). Unlike the countries listed above Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus haven’t joined the zone yet. So for now at least, they have their own separate 90-day limits. That means any days you are staying in non-Schengen countries aren’t counted towards the 90-day Schengen limit (and vice versa), so for example you could theoretically stay the full 90 days in the Schengen, and then still visit a non-Schengen country.
But do be careful if you’re likely to come close to the visa-free limits, overstaying could mean you’re liable to a fine or possible deportation and a ban on future travel. For more information on the latest developments and rule changes, visit the trusty Gov.UK
How Long Does My Uk Passport Need to Be Valid to Visit EU Countries?
All non-EU nationals, which sadly now includes British citizens need to check their passports comply with the following criteria:
- Valid for at least three months after the date you intend to leave the EU country you’re visiting.
Issued within the previous 10 years
- And yes, you’ll need to join the non EU passport queue, get your passport stamped and potentially be asked for proof of finances for your trip.
Will I Need a Visa or Visa Waiver to Visit the EU?
This is one of the pesky rules that’s about to change. At the time of writing, you can still enjoy visa-free travel for short stays. But, that’s going to change very soon. The EU is planning to implement a visa waiver scheme for 63 countries including Canada, the US, and yep, the UK.
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (EEITAS) scheme works in a similar way to the US waiver system, and means Brits will need to apply in advance of travel.
Visitors will have to apply online via an app or website and should take about 10 minutes to complete and you’ll be charged a €7 fee. You should get a decision within 4 days or less, but can take up to two weeks, so that puts a spanner in the last-minute deal.
The EITAS covers all member countries, and once accepted, it will be valid for three years and can be used for stays of up to 90 days in an 180 day period. The exact date the scheme will be implemented is still tbc, but May 2023 has also been suggested for a rollout.
Visit Europa.eu for more on the EITAS ts and cs.
What Will Happen to My Access to Healthcare in Europe?
One thing UK travellers won’t miss out on completely is access to healthcare in the UK. If you have an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) these are valid for 5 years, so it can still be used in the EU until it expires. But if yours has expired, you can apply for the new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) for free.
Both should allow you to access ‘medically necessary state healthcare’ which is defined as emergency or urgent healthcare, basically anything that can’t wait until you get home including visiting the a&e and treatment for long-term or pre-existing conditions. The cards mean that charges will either be reduced or in some cases free, depending on the state provision of the country you’re visiting. The NHS has comprehensive information on accessing healthcare in the EU.
How Will My Travel Insurance Change?
The main impact is on cost. Brexit has a nasty habit of making things cost more, although other major factors like Covid-19 have also caused insurance price hikes.
And while the GHIC and EHIC are very important things to have, they’re not a substitute for travel insurance, particularly if you’re looking at doing particular activities like skiing or mountain climbing. Many providers will expect GHIC as part of their policy applications, and it may be worth looking at an annual multi-trip policy over single trip cover, depending on your travel plans.
How Much Will I Have to Pay for Data Roaming Charges?
Now that free roaming has ended, making use of free WiFi wherever you can is one way of keeping costs down. But, where that isn’t possible, the costs of roaming will ultimately depend on your mobile phone provider. The default cost for using your mobile data abroad is £2.00 a day on contracts, but currently major providers like 02, Plusnet, and Virgin are not charging for EU roaming.
You’ll need to keep a tab on your data use, as most networks have fair use policies, so you may get charged if you exceed your data cap. But, it’s easy to keep tabs on. Set a spending cap and set up your phone to notify you when you’re close to reaching your data limit. The good(ish) news is that while providers are free to impose fees – the Government has a limit of £45.00 a month on roaming charges in any billing period which applies anywhere in the world, not just Europe.
Which Documents Will I Need to Drive in the EU?
If you’re planning on taking a car to the EU, you’ll need to furnish it with a shiny GB bumper sticker next to the number plate.
In terms of paperwork, most UK drivers will be still be able to use their photocard licences to drive in EU countries but there are exceptions which are:
- Drivers with paper licences
- Anyone with driving licences issues in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.
If you fall into one of these categorie, you’ll need to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP) which you can buy at any Post Office for £5.50 A post-Brexit reinstatement of Britain’s membership to the green card free circulation zone (GCFCZ) in July 2021 means that all UK
motor insurance now provides the minimum third party cover for driving in all EU member states and most other European countries, so no need to carry a green card for your card.
But, the Government advises anyone taking a car to the EU for less than 12 months to carry your (V5C) vehicle log book if you have one, or a VE103 if you’re driving a hire car.
What Are the Extra Requirements for Business Travel?
Business travel is one of the more complex things to consider post-Brexit, having been disrupted by the end to Freedom of Movement (aside from moving to the EU, but that’s a whole separate topic). There are few extra requirements, crucially around the length of your stay, work activities planned and where you’re travelling too.
All previous arrangements have now been replaced with the dreary sounding The Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). The TCA sets out all the guidelines for business travel and the relevant documentation you’ll need depending on the nature of your visit.
For short stays of under 90 days in a 180-day period, it’s pretty straightforward, you can attend a conference, trade event (for marketing, not selling) or meeting without a visa or work permit. But for anything over 180 days, you will need to check the requirements of each country or countries you’re visiting.
Other requirements to note include:
- Declaring if you’re taking more than €10,000 in cash
- Making sure you have the relevant permits to sell goods and make a customs declaration
- Whether your qualifications are recognised in the EU
- What work permits you will need to work in the EU country you’re going to.
What Are the Restrictions on Taking Goods in and Out of the EU?
Gone are the days of the ‘booze cruise’ and bringing back a lot of wine from Europe. The limit is down from 90 litres of wine to 18 (equivalent to 24 bottles), 43 litres of beer, and four litres of spirits or liqueurs.
There are now restrictions on items taken into the EU too, you can’t bring any meat, milk or products containing them. But there are exceptions for powdered baby milk, baby food, or pet food required for medical reasons.
Can I Still Take My Pets to Europe?
Yes, but like everything else, it’s a bit more complicated now, so you may want to paws for thought before deciding one whether to bring your pet on holiday. Under the rules, allowable pets are classified as dogs, cats or ferrets only. All other birds, reptiles, rodents etc are subject to the national rules of the country or countries you’re planning to visit.
EU pet passports have been scrapped, but you can take pets if you have an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) from an Official Veterinarian (OV) no earlier than 10 days before you travel and it will set you back £180.00 It’s valid for four months, and you’ll need one for each trip, although you can take up to 5 pets per certificate.
In addition to the AHC, you’ll also need to make sure your pet is microchipped, has a valid rabies vaccination and for certain counties (Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta) you’ll also need to take tapeworm treatment for dogs (including assistance dogs).