As of the 1st of January 2021, travel between Europe and the UK has changed how it operates. Before planning your next overseas holiday in the EU, here are a few quick tips on what to consider when travelling after Brexit.

Make Sure Your Passport Is Still Valid

If you’re using a British passport, it is important that it is still valid for another six months in order for you to travel on it. You should also ensure that it has been issued within the last 10 years, before you book your holiday. One slight exception to this rule is if you’re intending to use your passport as ID to visit Ireland. In this instance, you do not need to renew your passport if it will remain valid for the entirety of your stay. We would advise renewing anyway. Checking this is simple, and can be completed in around sixty seconds when using the government’s passport checker.

If prompted to renew your passport, you should do so before booking your trip. Your new passport will not have the same passport number as your current one, which may cause issues when authenticating your booking. If you have a current passport, a digital photo, and a credit or debit card, you can renew your passport online. This will cost £75.50, and there are some rules to follow when taking your digital passport photo.

Alternatively, you can renew your passport by post. The paper forms can be obtained from any post office that has a check and send service, or by calling the Passport Adviceline. You’ll need to provide two current and identical photos of yourself, plus the £85 renewal fee. This payment can be made by either filling out the credit or debit card information in the application pack, or by including a signed cheque made payable to “Her Majesty’s Passport Office”. Please also be aware that the post office may charge a further £16 as part of the check-and-send process. Passport renewal can take up to ten weeks, with online renewal usually completing slightly faster than paper submission, and the government offers a free portal to track your passport renewal.

Invest In Travel Insurance and Healthcare Cover

If you currently hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), this will continue to be valid until its expiration date even when travelling after Brexit. However, after your card has expired, or if you intend to get one for the first time, you will instead receive a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). You can apply for a GHIC, or renew your EHIC, via the NHS’ GHIC and EHIC application site. Either will entitle you to state healthcare in Europe, usually at a reduced cost, but in some instances, for free.

Please be aware that having a health insurance card is not a replacement for travel insurance. It is important to ensure that you also purchase sufficient travel insurance with good healthcare cover included. This should factor in any current health conditions that you may have, as well as any activities that you plan on doing on your holiday. If you intend to partake in winter sports, such as skiing or snowboarding, this will probably need to be noted before a quote can be provided. A selection of customised quotes can be obtained through comparison websites, such as Compare The Market’s travel insurance page.

If Driving, Ensure You Have All The Necessary Documents

If you’re intending to drive within the EU when travelling after Brexit, you’ll require some extra documentation to ensure that your insurance remains valid. There will be some differences in the vehicular paperwork required for travelling after Brexit. So please make sure that you have all of the following.

  • Full Valid Driver’s License – This may sound obvious, but remember to bring your drivers licence. Please bear in mind that a provisional licence will not be sufficient to allow you to drive in Europe. This must also be your original licence, not a copy.
  • DVLA Driver Record – When renting a vehicle, many car hire companies will request a copy of your DVLA driver record and a licence check code. These can be easily acquired using the government’s license checker.
  • Vehicle’s V5C or VE103 Certificate – If driving your own vehicle, you will need to carry the vehicle’s V5c. This is your vehicle registration document, which proves that the vehicle is registered to you. As with your driving licence, the V5c needs to be the original document, and not a copy. If driving a rental car, you will require a VE103. This is a vehicle-on-hire certificate, which confirms you have permission from the owner to be in possession of this vehicle. This is the only legally accepted substitute to the V5C, and as with the V5C, only the original copy of the document will be accepted.
  • A Green Card For Insurance – If you’re planning on driving during your European trip, you’re going to need a physical green card as proof of valid UK vehicle insurance. This is true of both the EU, and certain non-EU countries, including Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland. You can obtain a green card from your car insurance provider. Though, please be aware that they may charge you an administration fee. By contacting your insurer, you will usually be given a choice to receive a green card in the post, or to download and print your own version at home. You will also require a green card for any trailers or caravans. So if necessary, please make sure to enquire about them with your car insurance provider. Please be aware that a green card can take up to six weeks to arrive in the post. It is advised that you apply for a green card at least six weeks before your planned departure date.
  • International Driving Permit  If you have a driving license issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries. You may also need one if you currently hold a paper license. An IDP can be obtained from the Post Office, and can be applied for up to three months before your departure date. It is usually valid for three years, or until the expiry of your driving licence, whichever is sooner. The IDP application costs £5.50. It will require a full valid GB or Northern Ireland driving licence and a recent passport standard photograph. If you hold an older paper licence, you’ll also need to provide an original valid passport as proof of identification. To check whether you require an IDP, and for more information on how to apply, please visit the Post Office’s information on International Driving Permits.
  • GB Car Sticker – If driving your own vehicle abroad, you will likely require a GB sticker, or in EU states, a UK sticker. This must be displayed prominently on the rear of your vehicle. This is a legal requirement if your number plate displays a euro symbol, a national symbol (the flag of England, Wales or Scotland), or if it has no flag or identifier. If your number plate includes a Union Jack flag, you may not require a GB sticker. However, we still advise using one for safety. Please be aware that you will always be required to display a GB sticker in Cyprus, Malta and Spain, regardless of any other identifiers.

If Taking Your Pet Abroad, Get The Appropriate Vaccines and Certificate

Travelling after Brexit will affect not only you, but also your pet! If you’re planning on bringing your pet with you to Europe, your current UK pet passport won’t be valid anymore. For both pets and assistance dogs, you must ensure that your pet has:

  • A microchip to identify them, or alternatively, a tattoo with an identification number. For the EU, a tattoo is only accepted in place of a microchip if your pet was tattooed on or before 3rd July 2011. If the tattoo is clearly legible, and if your pet was vaccinated against rabies after it was tattooed.
  • Your pet must be vaccinated against rabies. Please note that this vaccination can only take place if your pet is at least twelve weeks old. Your pet will also not be able to travel for twenty one days following the primary injection. Your pet will also require regular rabies booster vaccinations. The due date for any booster vaccinations can be found in your pet’s animal health certificate.
  • Your pet will require an animal health certificate in order to travel. The only exception to this rule is if your pet has been issued a valid pet passport from an EU country, or Northern Ireland. An animal health certificate must be obtained and signed off by an official veterinarian within ten days of your departure, to ensure that it is up-to-date. When visiting the vet, you will need to bring proof of your pet’s vaccination history and date of microchipping. An animal health certificate will allow your pet up to ten days of entry in the EU and Northern Ireland. It will also provide up to four months of onward travel in the EU, and four months for re-entry into the UK. Please note that a new animal health certificate must be issued for every trip to the EU or Northern Ireland.
  • If travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta, your dog will require a tapeworm treatment.

Check Your Phone Company’s Policy On Data Roaming

As the UK is no longer an EU member, the rules for data roaming have now changed for travelling after Brexit. This means that you could be charged for calls, internet and texts when you’re abroad. The major mobile operators in the UK, including Three, Vodafone, EE and O2, have all indicated that they do not intend to reintroduce roaming fees for customers visiting Europe. However, this is not a guarantee, and operators are still able to reintroduce roaming charges in the future. Consequently, it is strongly recommended that you check your mobile operator’s roaming policies before using your mobile abroad.

The government has already passed some legislation to help protect consumers from excessive fees and exploitation. Firstly, customers are required to be informed when they reach 80% and 100% of their data allowance. This ensures they aren’t charged excessive sums for inadvertently exceeding limits. The legislation also includes a limit of £45 per month that customers can be charged for mobile data. After this you will have to opt-in for further use. Specifically for Northern Ireland, operators must also take reasonable steps to ensure that a customer is not charged for accidental roaming (this would occur if a mobile phone in Northern Ireland locked onto a signal from a mast in the Republic of Ireland).

Other Things To Consider When Travelling After Brexit

  • The country’s restrictions for UK travellers during COVID. Make sure you check whether you need the vaccine, whether testing is required, whether you will need to isolate, etc.
  • When passing through border control, you may need to provide a return ticket, and evidence that you can afford your stay.
  • You won’t need a visa for short trips.
  • When you go through passport control, you might not be able to use the EU or EEA lanes.
  • You won’t be able to take anything containing meat or milk with you. There are some exceptions, including baby food, powdered milk, and any health requirements.

If you have any further queries about travelling after Brexit, please visit our consumer protection page, or visit the government website for more information. Alternatively, you can contact a member of PTS’s friendly team on 0207 190 9988, and we will be happy to assist you.

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