As the UK is no longer part of the EU, there are new restrictions in place that might affect the way you travel and the rights you have within the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. It’s important that you have all of the correct travel documents and that you plan effectively before visiting an EU country.
If you are a UK citizen visiting an EU country for only a short period of time (eg for a two-week holiday), you will likely not be required to have a visa.
UK citizens are allowed to enter and stay for up to 90 days in the EU within a 180-day period. This means that, 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 within any consecutive 180 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 for longer than 90 days within a 180-day period (eg to study or work in an EU 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.
See the UK Government’s website for information on your specific destination.
Before entering an EU country you should, as a general rule, make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months on the date of travel and is less than 10 years old. The precise amount of time you must have left on your passport (ie before it expires) differs depending on which country you are visiting. Check the UK Government’s foreign travel advice for country-specific information.
If you do not meet the new passport requirements, your passport may require renewal. This can be a lengthy process, so ensure you begin it with adequate time before your trip.
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, European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens when queueing for passport checks
In November 2023, a new system of electronic travel authorisation called ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) is expected to be introduced for security purposes. It will cover the Schengen Area as well as Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. It is similar to the US ESTA system in that it is a waiver rather than a visa. It is for individuals who do not need a visa to enter the designated countries. This new system will require British citizens entering the Schengen Area or another eligible country from November 2023 onwards to register their details on an online platform before travelling.
Once registered under ETIAS, British citizens are allowed to enter the Schengen Area and other eligible countries as many times as they want within a 3-year period (or until the passport they registered with expires) before they need to re-register. This is subject to the 90-day limit set out above. For more information, read the ETIAS webpage.
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 check if you need:
proof of vehicle insurance
an International Driving Permit (IDP) for some countries
headlight converter stickers
emission stickers (ie permits required to drive in some European cities)
a reflective jacket and warning triangle
There may be different requirements if you’re 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, read Driving abroad.
Healthcare in Europe
European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) are no longer issued by the UK. If you have a UK EHIC, it will be valid until the expiry date on the card. Once your EHIC expires, you’ll need to apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) to replace it. A GHIC lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.
The UK Government has strongly encouraged travellers to obtain appropriate travel insurance, which covers healthcare, before entering the EU.
Mobile roaming in the EU
Free mobile roaming in Europe is no longer guaranteed for UK mobile users. You should check what roaming charges will apply to you in Europe with your network provider.
The UK Government passed a law to limit roaming charges to £45 per monthly billing period. Once this cap is reached, users will have to opt in to spend more to continue using their mobile phones abroad. The Government has also legislated to ensure that consumers receive alerts when they are at 80% and 100% data usage.
Travelling with pets
Pet passports issued by the UK no longer allow pets to be brought into the EU.. Instead, individuals travelling with pets (including assistance dogs) must obtain an animal health certificate (AHC) to take their pet (a dog, cat, or ferret) to the EU with them. You should get your AHC from a vet no more than 10 days before your date of travel. However, the process of arranging health checks and getting any required vaccinations can be lengthy. You should begin organising this at least a month before you intend to travel. Your pet will also need a microchip, a rabies vaccination, and potentially more treatments (eg other vaccinations) to travel to the EU or Northern Ireland.
When returning to Great Britain (note that Northern Ireland has different rules), your pet must have one of the following documents (depending on which country you’re coming from):
a Great Britain pet health certificate
an AHC issued in Great Britain used to travel to the EU (AHCs can be used to return to GB up to 4 months after they were issued)
For more information, read the Government’s guidance.