As the UK will no longer be part of the EU, there are new restrictions in place that might affect the way you travel and the rights you have within EU countries. It’s important that you have all the correct travel documents and plan effectively before visiting an EU country in 2021.
If you are only visiting an EU country for a short period of time (eg a two-week holiday), you will not be required to purchase a visa.
UK citizens will be allowed to enter and stay for up to 90 days in the EU within a 180-day period. This means from the date that travellers first enter any EU country, they are permitted to remain there or travel to other EU countries for a maximum of 90 days. For country specific information, you should check the visa requirements of your destination on the UK government’s foreign travel advice page.
If you plan to stay in the EU beyond this 90 day period (eg to study or work in that country), you may need to apply for a visa or permit. Please note that individual EU countries may have their own additional requirements for individuals travelling on business, so you may need to check on the UK government website for information on your specific business trip destination.
Before entering an EU country, you should make sure that your passport will be valid for at least 6 months on the date of travel, and less than 10 years old.
If you are concerned that you might not meet these requirements, the UK government has set up a check your passport service to determine whether your passport will be valid on the date of travel to enter your destination country.
If you do not meet these new requirements, your passport may require renewal. This can be a lengthy process so you should factor this along with any potential delays before your travels.
Entering the EU
When you arrive at your destination country in the EU, the border control authorities may require you to:
display a return or onward ticket
prove you have enough money for your stay
use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing
In 2022, the EU is introducing a new system of electronic travel authorisation, named ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), similar to the US ESTA system. This will mean British citizens entering the EU from 2022 onwards will likely need to register their details on an online platform for security purposes before travelling. Once registered under ETIAS, British citizens are allowed to enter the EU as many times as they want within a 3 year period, after which they must re-register. Naturally this is subject to the 90-day limit set out above.
Driving in the EU
For individuals intending to drive a vehicle in an EU country, there are new restrictions to be aware of.
If you plan on driving your own car and using your UK driving licence, you should have:
a GB sticker
a ‘green card’ from your vehicle insurance company to prove you have adequate insurance cover
an International Driving Permit (IDP) for some countries
These requirements may be different for renting a vehicle in an EU country, so be sure to check this with your rental car provider before your date of travel. For more information, see Driving Abroad.
Healthcare in Europe
European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will no longer be valid beyond 31 December 2020, so free healthcare in Europe will no longer be available. The UK government has strongly encouraged travellers to obtain appropriate travel insurance that covers healthcare before entering the EU. This is important for individuals with pre-existing medical conditions, as many travel insurance policies will only provide coverage for unforeseen health problems.
Mobile roaming in the EU
After 31 December 2020, free mobile roaming in Europe will no longer be guaranteed for UK mobile users. You should check what roaming charges will apply to you in Europe with your network provider.
The UK government has passed a new law to limit roaming charges to £45. Once this cap is reached, the user will have to opt in to spend more and continue using their mobile phone abroad.
Travelling with pets
The current pet passport scheme will no longer apply to UK citizens after 31 December 2020. Instead, individuals travelling with pets must follow a new process, depending on the future ‘listed status’ of the UK. The new process can take up to 4 months to complete, so any pet travel should be planned far in advance of your departure date.
The UK government has provided useful advice on pet travel to Europe. This will be updated once the UK’s listed status is decided by the EU.
When returning to the UK, your pet must have one of the following documents:
a UK pet health certificate
an EU pet passport (issued in the EU or in the UK before 1 January 2021)
an Animal Health Card issued in Great Britain used to travel to the EU (which you can use up to 4 months after it was issued)