British citizens travelling in Europe after Brexit

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At the end of December 2020, the United Kingdom will have completed its transition period and will have fully left the European Union (EU).

This means that starting in 2021, UK citizens will no longer enjoy EU privileges when traveling to European countries.

British nationals will find that the experience of traveling to EU and European Free Trade Associaton (EFTA) countries has changed.

There are a number of new rules and regulations to bear in mind when planning a trip to Europe. UK passport holders will need to ensure that they meet the new entry requirements.

European flag at Downing Street

Will UK Citizens Need Visas for Europe?

British nationals traveling as tourists will not need a visa for a short trip to an EU or EFTA country.

It has been confirmed that travelers from the UK will be able to stay visa-free for a maximum of 90 days within any 180-day period, as long as the purpose of visiting is leisure.

However, for longer stays and for other purposes of traveling, a visa may be required.

Policies will vary depending on the individual country and the agreements they make with the UK. It is important to keep up to date on global visa information to see how the post-Brexit requirements for British nationals turn out.

ETIAS for British Citizens

It is worth noting that in 2022, the EU will introduce an electronic travel authorization called the ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System). This will be an additional entry requirement for visa-exempt travelers, most likely including British citizens.

While the ETIAS is not a visa, strictly speaking, it will involve the traveler registering their details before traveling for security purposes. The difference is that this can be done quickly via an online form.

The streamlined process means that the application will be completed and processed rapidly. The system is being modeled on the US ESTA.

Can I Work in Europe After Brexit

As citizens of a non-EU country, UK nationals will no longer enjoy the European Union policy of free movement of workers. British citizens who wish to go and work in an EU or Schengen country may have to apply for a visa, depending on that country’s arrangement with the UK.

Similarly, some EU countries may require British business visitors and students to obtain business and study visas respectively.

In order to move to an EU state, British nationals may need a residence visa or permit.

Visa policies for UK citizens may vary depending on the country. It is important to check visa requirements before booking a trip.

Are British EU Passports Still Valid?

UK passports issued while it was still a member of the EU will still be valid. However, it is important to check both the issue date and expiry date.

Non-EU nationals must have a passport that will continue to be valid for at least 6 months after the date of travel. This will apply to UK citizens from 2021.

The passport must also be less than 10 years old to be acceptable.

The only EU country these rules do not apply to is the Republic of Ireland, which will continue to accept any valid UK passport under the agreements of the Common Travel Area.

European Health Cover After Brexit

Healthcare will no longer be covered automatically. UK citizens with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be able to use it until 31 December 2020, after which it will become invalid.

Starting in 2021, it is highly recommended that Brits traveling to Europe buy health and travel insurance to ensure they are covered in the EU.

The EHIC covered pre-existing medical conditions, but many basic insurance policies do not. Therefore, it is vital to choose a policy that covers their potential medical needs.

Will I Be Able to Drive in Europe With My UK License?

Driving in EU countries may also become more complicated. Policies on driving vary from country to country, but some require foreign drivers to have an international driving permit (IDP).

UK travelers will have to check if they require an IDP or any other additional documents in their destination country if they plan to hire a car or drive there in their own vehicle.

Pet Travel to Europe After Brexit

Existing EU pet passports will become invalid as the UK will no longer be part of the scheme.

The new process for taking pets abroad includes having the animal’s blood tested and any necessary vaccinations, such as rabies. This will all take around 4 months, so it is important to plan well in advance.

The pet will also need an animal health certificate (AHC) issued within 10 days of traveling.

Certain countries have additional rules that must be adhered to.

How Will Traveling to the EU Change for British Nationals?

Arriving at border control in EU countries will likely be a different experience for UK citizens starting in 2021.

Firstly, they will no longer be able to use the lane for EU/EEA/Swiss passport holders and must instead queue with arrivals from outside the EU.

Passing through passport control may take a little longer and Brits may now be asked to show the following:

  • A return or onward ticket
  • Proof of funds to cover the trip

Customs regulations will also change. Brits carrying £10,000 or more will have to declare it. The same is true of any goods that are intended to be sold or used for business purposes.

Will UK Travelers Still Get Free Roaming in the EU?

Starting from January 1, 2021, free roaming for UK mobile phones in EU and EFTA countries will no longer be guaranteed.

Although mobile phone companies have said that they do not plan to change current roaming policies, the current agreement cannot continue unless the UK government reaches a trade deal with the EU.

If this does not happen, 144 operators will have to make separate deals with each of the 27 European Union member states, which could take some time.

Free roaming would probably come to an end, at least in the short term.