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Holidays to Europe after Brexit – travelling to the EU after 1st January 2021 – what you need to know

By Lyndsey Thomas – 29th Sept 2020

As we hurtle towards the end of 2020 it’s time to consider the impact that Brexit (Brex-what?) will have on our future holidays to Europe in 2021.


We are all caught up with coronavirus but it’s worth noting that on January 1, 2021 the Brexit transition period comes to an end and new rules will apply to Brits who plan to travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and or Liechtenstein from 1st January 2021.

Will your mobile phone bill sky-rocket because you’ve spent two weeks posting every detail of your holiday onto the Gram and what happens if you want to take your Cockapoo on your road-trip across France?

Here’s some easy-to-digest answers to your FAQs on holidays to Europe after Brexit

Do I need to renew my passport?


If you’re travelling to the EU from 1st January 2021, you may need to renew your passport earlier, as it will need to be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left) and it will need to have at least 6 months left validity.

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

If your passport is burgundy or has ‘European Union’ on the cover, you can continue to use it until it expires.

Make sure you allow for sufficient time to renew your passport – the lead-time is longer than normal sure to Covid so don’t leave your application to the last minute.

To renew a passport, please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/renew-adult-passport/renew



Will I need a VISA to travel into the EU?


If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Brussels has said that British visitors will be visa-exempt ‘third-country nationals’ initially, which means that there’s no need for an application in advance. But within a couple of years, British citizens will be subject to the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which the EU is working to impose no later than 2022. To read more about this visa scheme, please follow this link: https://www.etiaseurope.eu/

At border control in the EU, 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 I want to drive to EU countries, will I need to get another driving license?


A British driving license will continue to be classed as a Europe-wide permit until the end of 2020. After that, it is possible that some EU countries will insist on an International Driving Permit.

Full details about International Driving Permits, including what permit you need for each country can be found by clicking here: https://www.gov.uk/driving-abroad/international-driving-permit.

There are a number of different permits available for different countries within the EU, so you should check carefully which permit is required for each country you intend to drive within, as you may need more than one permit to comply with the law.

If required, International Driving Permits cost £5.50 and are available directly from the Post Office.

Displaying a GB sticker for all to see on the bumper of your family car was once considered the height of well-travelled sophistication. And then we joined the EU. Well you’ll be glad to know that the Government is advising that you will need a GB sticker for your car when driving in the EU after Brexit.🤗  🚗

If you’re taking your own vehicle, you might also need a ‘green card’ – a certificate extending the travel insurance to the minimum legal requirements in EU countries, which will be provided by the car insurance company.


What about FREE healthcare?


There is no such thing as FREE. When travelling in the EU (anywhere for that matter), it is important that you take out travel insurance and check that it covers your current circumstances, including any medical conditions. If you have an annual policy, make sure you check the Terms and Conditions and contact your insurance provider if you’re not sure.



If I already have travel insurance in place, will this cease to be valid after 1st January 2021?


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 1 January 2021. 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.


What are the new rules with regards to mobile roaming?


MOBILE roaming charges will depend on your network, but most of the big providers have said they will continue to offer free roaming. According to a source, EE, Vodafone, Three Mobile and O2 have all confirmed that they have no current plans to reintroduce roaming charges. Those of you on other networks should still check with their phone company for any extra charges.


What are the new rules for fury four-legged friends


From 1st January 2021 you will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. Instead you’ll need to follow a different process, which takes 4 months. To see the full guidance on pet travel to Europe from 1st January 2021, please follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pet-travel-to-europe-after-brexit

Lyndsey Thomas
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