Motorhome Travel & Driving in Europe after BREXIT- essential things to know

Travelling from UK to Europe after BREXIT with a motorhome, campervan or caravan? Want to know what documents you need and what changes will affect your road trips? Unsure about driving in the EU after BREXIT? Here's everything you need to know

Whether you like it or not, the BREXIT transition period has now finished and the UK has left the EU.

Which means that the rules for travel from UK to Europe have changed, and there are some changes for driving in the EU after BREXIT.

Here's a guide on what the changes are, and which ones affect you.

Driving in Europe after BREXIT- things you need to know

There are a couple of big things you need to check before you travel from the UK to the EU after BREXIT:

  • check your passport
  • check your healthcare/ travel insurance
  • check you have the right driving documents
  • organise pet travel documents

More on each section is below, as well as some smaller tips you might find useful

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    Travelling to Europe after BREXIT?

    If you'd prefer to watch a video instead of read, here you go (just click the image to watch)

    Travelling to Europe after BREXIT and Driving in Europe rule changes video

    Travel from UK to Europe after BREXIT- Check your Passport

    British passports MUST have at least 6 months left on them before you enter the European Union. You MUST check that the expiry date is ONLY 10 years from the date of issue, not longer.

    This is really important- many passports over the last 10+ years have been issued with an extra 9 months on them- but this will not be acknowledged by the EU. So if your passport was issued on 01 September 2015, it will expire (in the EU's eyes) on 01 September 2025, regardless of the actual expiry date.

    So you must have 6 months left before THAT date. (Ireland is the exception for this- you can travel to Ireland for the length of your current passport). Get more tips for motorhoming or campervanning in Ireland.

    Also, any passport older than 10 years needs to be renewed asap. You can do this online or at your local Post Office.

    YOU DO NOT NEED A BLUE PASSPORT- keep using your red one until you need to renew it, even if it says EU on the cover. However, you won’t be able to use the EU citizen entry lanes at border control.

    Insurance and Medical treatment in Europe after BREXIT

    If you currently have an EHIC card for healthcare treatment in the EU, that will remain valid until it expires.

    There is a newer version of this, called the Global Health Insurance card (GHIC), which is nowhere near as far-reaching.

    In some countries, patients are expected to directly contribute a percentage towards the cost of their state-provided treatment. This is known as a patient co-payment. If you receive treatment under this type of healthcare system, you're expected to pay the same co-payment charge as a patient from that country.

    The EHIC/ GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts or being flown back to the UK. The EHIC/ GHIC is not valid on cruises.

    NOTE: The GHIC is FREE for eligible UK residents. Do NOT pay for it, use the NHS website here.

    The short answer is, expect to pay for healthcare- or at least buy a decent travel insurance policy before you go.

    Driving in the EU after BREXIT- Documents you need

    If you're going to be driving in the EU or Europe after BREXIT, you must carry:

    • Your UK card driving licence (check it is in date!)
    • Your insurance documents
    • Vehicle V5 logbook (which must show your correct address)
    • Vehicle must be legally taxed and MOT'd
    • Trailer certification
    • Green card
    • A GB sticker for your vehicle
    • IDP if required

    There are other items you need to for driving in Europe– see them all here and grab your FREE checklist

    Green Card

    If you have purchased insurance which covers you and your vehicle to drive in Europe, you will need a green card before driving in the following countries:

    • the EU (including Ireland)
    • Andorra
    • Iceland
    • Liechtenstein
    • Norway
    • Serbia
    • Switzerland

    You get these from your insurer and there may be an additional charge for them.

    If towing with a motorhome or car, you will need to carry a separate green card for both:

    • the vehicle you’re driving
    • the trailer or caravan you’re towing

    In other countries, you may need additional insurance and a green card for each trailer or caravan you tow. Check with your insurer what you need before you travel.

    Apply at least one month before you are due to travel and make sure the details on the card are correct- we’ve heard several instances of something being wrong and a new one had to be posted out.

    Do you need an IDP?

    No. Most people do not need an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if you have a card driving licence issued in the UK.

    You might if you have:

    • a paper driving licence
    • a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man

    (If you do need an IDP, here’s an in-depth guide on how to get an International Driving Permit and which one(s) you need from a UK post office.

    Will my UK driving licence be valid in the EU after BREXIT?

    Your current driving licence will continue to be valid for driving in Europe, even if it has the EU symbol. Obviously, it needs to be in date and you must have a licence for the vehicle you are driving.

    Driving in Europe after BREXIT- get a GB sticker on your vehicle

    You MUST have a GB sticker or reg plate on the back of your car- the EU logo will no longer be acceptable. I fully expect the French police to assign 5,000,000 officers to northern France each holiday in order to fine as many unsuspecting British tourists as they can for their lack of official GB sticker. #Toocynical??

    Hiring a motorhome or car in Europe after BREXIT

    Yes, you can still rent a motorhome or car in Europe after BREXIT. You will need:

    • a valid driving licence (suitable for the vehicle you will be driving)
    • Possibly an IDP code from the DVLA- check with the hire company in advance

    If you are travelling with a hire vehicle outside of the UK, you will need proof that you are allowed to cross borders with it (often a VE103 certificate)

    Travelling in Europe after BREXIT– Border controls

    At the border, you may have to show:

    • a return or onward ticket
    • you have enough money for your stay
    • proof of medical insurance

    You will probably need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing at the border. It should be well signposted.

    How long can I stay in the EU?

    Ah, the big one.

    So, you can remain in the Schengen area for 90 days in any rolling 180 day period. This includes the whole of the EU except Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Ireland, but DOES include Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You can stay for one long trip, or a series of smaller trips, as long as you don't exceed 90 days in any 180.

    And yes- your passport will be stamped.

    Countries which are exempt from the 90-day rule

    These countries are not in the '90-day' rule, and therefore you can visit each for 90 days on top of your 90 days in the Schengen area:

    • Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania.
    • Morocco
    • Ireland (allows unlimited visits for UK nationals)

    You can use this short-stay calculator to help (although personally I don't find it that easy to use)

    Europe Motorhome travel- free checklists

    Want to head to Europe with your motorhome?

    Grab your FREE (printable) checklist and discover 25 things you NEED to take with you when you travel in Europe. Make your life easier today.

    Will I need a VISA to visit Europe after BREXIT?

    Not at the moment.

    There is a strong likelihood that in the future all British Citizens will need to apply for a European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (ETIAS) visa in advance. These will work similarly to the USA ESTAs and are proposed to be active later in 2021 or 2022. It is aimed at reducing the “migration, security or public-health risk” from nationals of visa-exempt third countries

    At the moment, estimated costs are at 7€ and the ETIAS will be valid for 3 years (although that doesn’t mean you can spend 3 years exploring Europe non-stop).

    Taking your dog to Europe after BREXIT

    There have been some big changes regarding taking a pet from the UK to Europe. The UK Pet passport scheme is now obsolete, and you will require an animal health certificate instead.

    For a step-by-step guide, please read: How to take a dog to Europe after BREXIT (and get an AHC)

    Don't forget, if you are going campervanning in Norway with a dog, you will need to get a tapeworm tablet administered by a vet 1-5 days before you enter Norway. And then you will need ANOTHER one administered 1-5 days before returning to the UK.

    Duty Free limits for alcohol?

    When travelling from the EU to the UK, anyone aged 17+ can carry can carry (taken from the Gov.Uk website):

    • beer – 42 litres
    • wine (not sparkling) – 18 litres

    You can also bring in either:

    • spirits and other liquors over 22% alcohol – 4 litres
    • fortified wine (for example port, sherry), sparkling wine and alcoholic drinks up to 22% alcohol – 9 litres

    You can split this last allowance, for example you could bring 4.5 litres of fortified wine and 2 litres of spirits (both half of your allowance).

    Tobacco allowance

    You can bring in one from the following:

    • 200 cigarettes
    • 100 cigarillos
    • 50 cigars
    • 250g tobacco
    • 200 sticks of tobacco for electronic heated tobacco devices

    You can split this allowance – so you could bring in 100 cigarettes and 25 cigars (both half of your allowance).

    You may have to pay VAT, customs or excise duty on alcohol or tobacco you declare.

    Taking Meat, Milk and other products to/ from Europe

    You will not be allowed to bring in meatmilk or their products (unless you have less than 10kg and are coming from the Faeroe Islands or Greenland)

    There is also an exemption for powdered infant milk, infant food, and special foods or special pet feed required for medical reasons, if weighing less than 2 kilograms and provided that:

    • such products do not require refrigeration before opening
    • that they are packaged proprietary brand products for direct sale to the final consumer, and
    • the packaging is unbroken unless in current use

    You can travel with up to 20kg of fish and certain shellfish such as prawns, lobsters, dead mussels and dead oysters, or the weight of one fish if this is higher. There is no such weight restriction for travellers coming from the Faeroe Islands or Greenland

    For other animal products, such as honey, live oysters, live mussels and snails for example, travellers are allowed to bring in up to 2 kilograms

    These rules do not apply to animal products transported between the EU Member States, or for animal products coming from Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino or Switzerland. Full details can be found on the EU website here

    You’ll need a certificate to take certain plants and plant products into EU countries. 

    Unsure what you need for your Europe road trip?
    Worried you're missing something important?

    Grab your FREE Europe Road trip Checklist NOW- everything you need: essential kit, paperwork and useful gear to take.

      This form subscribes you (free!) to the Wandering Bird mailing list. We share tips, itineraries, and helpful guides like this for road trippers and motorhomers.

      We never spam (yuck) and you can unsubscribe at any time.

      Driving in Europe after BREXIT- Phone Roaming Charges

      To date, the 4 main UK networks have said they will not be re-introducing roaming charges for travellers visiting the EU.

      The UK government passed some legislation which imposes:

      • A £45-a-month limit on the amount that customers could be charged for using mobile data abroad before having to opt-in for further use
      • Rules stating customers must be informed when they have reached 80% and 100% of their data allowance
      • “reasonable steps” need to be taken to avoid customers being charged for accidental roaming in Northern Ireland, which would happen if a phone in Northern Ireland locked onto the mobile signal coming from the Republic of Ireland.

      Will my UK bank card be valid?

      Yes, you will still be able to use your UK bank cards in Europe, just as you did before. Make sure you are aware of any charges your bank may impose.

      Travelling to Europe after Brexit- Will there be huge delays at borders?

      Possibly. UK passport holders will no longer be permitted to use the EU fast-lanes, so we will need to go through the ‘other' lanes. Also, border control officials may wish to question you about your trip.

      Some countries, such as Portugal, have already said they intend to allow UK passport holders to use ‘fast-track lanes’ so, after the initial ‘settling-in’ period, I doubt we’ll see much difference. (REad our complete guide to campervanning in Portugal after BREXIT)

      If you are driving to Europe after BREXIT, there is a chance you could get caught in these delays, whether you use the ferry or Eurotunnel.

      I hope you now feel a little more prepared or knowledgable about travelling to Europe after BREXIT and driving in the EU.

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      9 thoughts on “Motorhome Travel & Driving in Europe after BREXIT- essential things to know”

        • Hi Ann- you tank size is fine but of course you will need to refill it often. It won’t last the whole month!! 🙂

      1. Hi Kat, What is likely to happen to UK citizens planning a longer trip in Europe (say 6 months) in the event of no deal brexit. What are the likely outcomes?

        • Oh Peter- I do wish I had a crystal ball so I could help answer this. The sad fact is that at the moment the ‘likely’ outcome is 3 months max touring Europe before having to return to the UK for 3 months. We currently have no way of knowing if there will be a possibility to extend this, which is going to be a great shame if not.

      2. Thanks Kat – a really informative breakdown of everything need for when (soon pleeease!!!) we can all travel freely again.

        Great news about the main UK phone providers not re-introducing roaming charges!

        Our main concern is the dog food rule, as our dog Una has a sensitive belly and has only ever agreed with one sort of dog food. Unfortunately it’s not ‘medically required’ i.e. not vet prescribed. I don’t suppose you’ve found any more info on that anywhere as we can’t find anything online above and beyond what you’ve already covered.
        Anyway – love the website keep it up 🙂

      3. Hi I live in Spain , at the moment and for sometime to come we are limited to only travelling in our own area, ie we live in the Valencian region and can only drive in that region. Anybody wishing to travel down through Spain to the south, will have to check and make sure it is possible to drive through the different regions, the police here take no prisoners and will fine you heavily and pay on the spot. Double check you have all your docs

      4. Hi Kat, have just come across your blog whilst searching for information on Post Brexit travelling. You have certainly put a lot of effort into researching all aspects of the changes. One item that I have come across which is hiding under the radar at the minute is the new law in France with respect to the requirement for vehicles over 3.5 tonnes to display “Angles Mort” (Blind spot) stickers on the side and rear of the vehicle. It appears like all things French a hefty fine could be issued. Have you got any personal information on this new law?
        Looking forward to reading some more of the blog.


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