What you Need to Know about Post-Brexit Travel


Brexit has impacted the way UK citizens can trave in the EU and the rest of the Schengen area. Here is a list of things you should be aware of prior to traveling.


Restrictions

Outside of post-Covid restrictions, you will still be able to travel visa-free. But you will only be allowed to spend 90 days out of every 180 days in the Schengen area (most EU nations plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). That means spending the entire winter in the Med is no longer a possibility.

Those allowances are cumulative and Schengen-wide -- so you can't spend three months in one country, go home, and return for a weekend city break.

The EU is introducing a visa waiver scheme, called ETIAS (similar to the US ESTA scheme), by the end of 2022. It is likely that UK citizens will be included in the scheme, which will cost around €7 for three years


Expenses

Exchange rate aside, expenses will generally rise. Leaving the EU means that UK phone companies can, once again, charge roaming fees while you are traveling there (they were previously abolished under EU rules). The UK's major providers have said that they do not anticipate re-introducing them, but it would be wise to check before you go.


Health Care

UK citizens will need travel insurance, according to the government -- even though the December 24 deal says that European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) cards (which provided health coverage on a par with what locals receive) will be valid until their expiry date. Note that they will not be valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

Regular treatment for chronic conditions -- like dialysis, or chemotherapy -- will continue cross-border, with pre-booking.

Meanwhile, the UK has created a "global health insurance card" for its citizens. Find details here.


Passports, Visas, and more…

UK citizens will now need six months' validity left on their passports to enter the EU (technically the EU requires three months' validity but the UK is advising its citizens to have six months remaining). They are also advising that your passport be less than ten years old, even if it still has 6 months validity on it. There is an exemption for Ireland that states you can travel as long as your passport is valid for the entire length of your stay. EU residents can use identity cards to enter the UK until October 1, 2021. After that you will need a passport, unless you're a UK resident.

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

If you visit more than one of these countries within a 180-day period, check that you do not spend more than 90 days in total across all the countries you visit. That’s because most of these countries apply the 90-day limit as a group.

There are different rules for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. They each have their own separate 90-day limits. The time you spend in other countries does not affect how long you can spend in each of these countries without a visa.

You may need to bring a lot more with you. Pandemic aside, Spain, for instance, reserves the right to refuse entry to tourists, even those with valid visas, or who qualify for visa-free travel if they cannot provide proof of where they will be staying, a documented itinerary or a round-trip flight. In addition, anyone wishing to enter Spain "must demonstrate that they have sufficient means of support available to enter Spain" -- that means at least €90 per day of your trip, and a minimum of €810 for your entire trip (even for a weekend city visit).


Driving

UK Citizens will be able to drive in the EU without International Driving Permits -- UK licenses will be recognized as they were pre-Brexit.

If taking a British car into the EU, it must have a GB sticker on display, and you must have a "Green Card" detailing your insurance in multiple languages.


Border Crossing

Officially, UK nationals are no longer entitled to use the EU passport gates at border control. However, each EU country will be able to decide whether or not to grant an exception. With the UK banned from most countries at the time of this writing because of Covid, the situation will probably become clearer in a few months.

The UK has confirmed that EU citizens can continue to use the UK/EEA channels, and ePassport gates, at UK border control. These are also open to citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, and the US, as before.


Moving into the EU

There is no longer freedom of movement between the EU and the UK. Anyone wanting to move between the two will now need to apply for a visa.


The Gibraltar Situation

Gibraltar, the UK territory on the southern tip of Spain is now part of the Schengen area, as an entry point to Spain. However, the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, has confirmed that only the territory is part of the Schengen area not the people. In other words, UK nationals will not be able to use it as a back-door way into Spain.

There are two entry points: one for Gibraltar, and one for Schengen. The airport will be in the Schengen area, so there will be no immigration checks for intra-Schengen flights.


The Ireland Situation

The Republic of Ireland is exempt from the 90/180 rule for British citizens. And there is no limit on items you can take across the border with Northern Ireland, provided that they are for personal use or for gifts.

There will be no border checks between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; however, you cannot take meat or dairy products from England, Scotland or Wales into Northern Ireland, and if traveling with a pet, it must have a certificate, even if you are not planning to cross into the Republic of Ireland.