Travelling from UK to Europe after BREXIT? Want to know what documents you need and what changes will affect your travels? Unsure about driving in the EU after BREXIT? Here's what 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)
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)
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There is a newer version of this, called the Global Health Insurance card (GHIC), which is nowhere near as far-reaching.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 carry in Europe– see them all here and grab your FREE checklist
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)
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??
Talking of France, you might find these posts useful for your trip:
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.
- 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)
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)
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).
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 meat, milk 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.
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.
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.
Other posts you might find useful for your Europe trip:
- Touring Europe in a motorhome– everything you need to know
- How to plan a motorhome trip
- The Best European road trip itineraries
- 7 breathtaking places to see the Northern Lights in Europe
- 15 essential Europe Road Trip tips you need to know
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