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All the Ways in Which Brexit

Can Affect Our Travel

February 6, 2020


So Brexit has happened. At least formally, anyway. But a lot of anxiety still exists for travellers (and workers alike) during this transition period about what deal, if any, may be agreed! Our government has already ruled out a further extension past the existing transition period (due to expire at the end of 2020), which may arguably be quite premature given that it took us 3 prior extensions to even formally start Brexit and such complex trade deals as the ones to be negotiated have never been finalised within in a year, in the history of forever!

While we're not experts and certainly not fortune tellers, for the purposes of this article we will assume the worst, in terms of changes we can expect to see in the travel sphere:

Alice Ogeh


A Lawyer in her previous life, the copious hours of scrutinising law text books, case law and wikipedia have resulted in the birth of a creature, whose capability to research into the paths less trodden, surpasses most seasoned travellers.

1. Passport Face Lift

It was confirmed as early as in 2017 that as soon as Brexit takes place you could expect a roll out and return of the royal blue passports of our parent's yesteryears. The Immigration Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Leaving the EU gives us a unique opportunity to restore our national identity and forge a new path for ourselves in the world". The new passport will also apparently have a raft of new technological and enhanced security features. Even though the old burgundy passport will be phased out periodically to save tax payer money, some of you may have already noticed slight changes to your new passports with the removal of references to the European Union.

2. Healthcare

Currently within the EU you can benefit from free state health care in member states via an European Health Insurance Card. This is not a substitute for travel insurance, but assists when you are in need of immediate and necessary healthcare for a new or existing condition, without having to worry whether it will be covered by your travel insurance company (especially in relation to pre-existing conditions). The EHIC covers medically necessary state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost or, in many cases, free of charge, until your planned return home. This includes treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition that becomes necessary during your visit. 

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may not be valid if there's a no-deal Brexit after the transition period. This will depend on arrangements with individual countries and might mean you need to pay for treatment in full. So our advice would be to ensure that for all travels you continue to carry travel insurance that covers healthcare and possibly look at annual cover which would cover you for any planned travels in 2021 after the transition period.

3. Driving Permits

Gone will be the days where all you require is a full UK driving licence and driving permit code (FREE from the DVLA website). Once the transition period is over its likely that you will need to get a international driving permit to drive abroad in most countries in the EU (each country may have their own rules) and there may also be extra documentation required if using your own car such as a GB sticker and green card.

4. Travelling for Business

If you're travelling as tourist, you're unlikely to require a visa after the transitional period as you will still be able to travel and stay for

up to 90 days in most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in any 180 day period. But there are extra requirements if you are travelling for business and business here means activities such as travelling for meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity), and touring art or music. If there is no deal, each country is likely to have it's own additional requirements and you should check before travelling. In the meantime, you can find out more HERE

5. Time Limits

Is your passport expiring soon? Currently to travel in the EU, you only need your passport to be valid for the duration of your travel. Following Brexit (not the formal Brexit which took place on 31 January, but after the end of the transitional period) when travelling to an EU country on the day of travel you will need to have at least 6 months left to run on your passport and your passport will need to be less than 10 years old as at the date of travel.

6. Duty Free

There is a ̶c̶̶a̶̶n̶̶c̶̶e̶̶r̶̶ ̶̶r̶̶i̶̶d̶̶d̶̶e̶̶n̶ silver lining for some, following Brexit as the government announced that once Brexit happens (and the

transitional period ends) duty free cigarettes and alcohol will be brought back immediately - yippee, now it will be cheaper to worsen our health while going on holiday. This however will only be brought back if UK leaves with no deal because under the terms of the withdrawal agreement the UK would stay in the single market and the customs union for the duration of a transition period, and this means keeping the current system in place.

7. Airport Security & Customs

Following the transitional period you can resign to the fact that you will now be classed as 'other'. Forget about waltzing through the usually more fast paced European Passport Holders customs line, following Brexit you will have to wait in the other line like the rest of the world.

8. Mobile Roaming

In June 2017 the EU scrapped additional charges for roaming on smartphones while travelling to EU countries, but of course if the UK leaves without a deal, this structure will all come tumbling down. Most mobile companies have either been very quiet or elusive as to what would happen if there is a no deal Brexit as it would mean such companies having to broker deals individually with member states mobile companies in order to continue free roaming at no additional charges to customers. Out of all the major mobile companies, Three is the only mobile company that we know of that has categorically confirmed that Brexit will not affect three customers free roaming, so if you're planning on travelling abroad following Brexit might be worth looking at three mobile contracts and pay as you go sims. You can find out more HERE

There's likely to be more changes and definitive information provided as negotiations continue and you keep up to date with the position, especially for any planned travels to the EU in 2021 HERE

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