30 December 2020 by David Warne
With the UK having officially left the European Union on 31st December 2020, we’ve updated our Brexit travel guidance to give you access to the latest information on visiting Europe.
As you’re no doubt aware, from the start of 2021, travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein changed, and there are some things you’ll need to take into consideration when planning and booking your holiday.
You will be able to travel to countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa as a tourist, to visit family or friends, to attend business meetings, cultural or sports events, or for short-term studies or training. That said, from 1st January 2023, travellers to the Schengen area will be required to obtain an ETIAS visa waiver, an electronic system similar to that operated by the USA.
As with all things at the moment, details can change at short notice. With that in mind, we recommend you visit the government website dedicated to post-Brexit travel for the most up-to-date information.
In summary, some important points to consider are:
- Passport validity – you’ll need at least 3 months validity on your passport from the date you leave your EU destination, and for it to be less than 10 years old on the day of travel. If you renewed your current passport before its previous expiry date, you may have been granted extra months on top of the usual 10-year validity. These additional months may not count towards the minimum 3 months needed. You can check if your passport meets the requirements here. Please note there have been reports of airlines providing incorrect advice that you must have at least six months left on your passport - and even denying travellers from boarding; as such we would recommend renewing your passport before you are within 6 months of its expiry date where possible.
- Travel insurance – EHIC health cards will remain valid for use in EU member states up to their expiry date. However, from 1st January 2021, they will no no longer be excepted in Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Lichtenstein. When your EHIC card expires, you will be able to apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). We recommend you obtain adequate travel insurance prior to travel to all destinations.
- Driving documents – you will be able to drive in Europe with your UK driving licence and will not require an international driving permit, unless you have an old-style paper licence or your licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man. You must, however, display a UK sticker when driving in the EU (except Ireland) and the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) - note the UK sticker has replaced the former 'GB' sticker. You no longer require an insurance 'green card' to guarantee adequate third-party cover when driving in the EU and EEA, as well as Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Switzerland. Your UK insurer will now automatically provide third-party cover when driving in these regions.
- Passport lanes – UK passport holders will no longer be able to use EU-designated immigration lanes, unless otherwise indicated on arrival
- Travel for pets – You must contact your vet at least 4 months before travel
- Food & drink – Travellers will no longer be able to take some food and drink into EU countries. See the EU Commission website for details
You can also find out more information on post-Brexit travel, based on your own circumstances, by using the government's Brexit checker tool.