Still not sure how Brexit affects travel between the UK and the EU? This guide explains what has already changed since January 1st and what’s still to come.
Most importantly, now that the UK has left the European Union, freedom of movement has come to an end. The good news is that British citizens don’t need a visa to stay in Europe for short periods: you can be in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days per 180-day period for tourism or business.
However, whilst you won’t need a visa to go on holiday to Europe, you will soon need to apply for ETIAS before you travel. The European Travel Information and Authorisation System, to be introduced at the end of 2022, will be a mandatory entry requirement for all visitors from visa-exempt third nations.
The ETIAS is an electronic visa waiver, similar to the ESTA for the US, and is being introduced to boost security across the European Union. Until now, visa-exempt travellers have been able to cross the external Schengen border without any background checks, calls for increased border security have led to the development of the new online registration system.
Travellers from visa-exempt third countries including the UK and the US will be able to apply for an ETIAS directly online; it’s not a visa and the application process is more straightforward. All that you need to apply is a valid passport, debit or credit card, and an email address.
To register, you’ll just fill out a brief ETIAS application form, providing a few personal details, passport data and some travel information. There’ll also be a few security questions designed to help European authorities identify potentially dangerous individuals and keep residents and visitors safe.
After submitting your request the information you provided will be automatically checked against international security databases including Europol, Interpol, and the Schengen Information System. Most applications will be approved at this stage, only when there’s a hit it one of the systems will the request be reviewed manually by ETIAS officials.
This means that in the majority of cases you’ll get your approved visa waiver quickly and will be ready to travel soon after applying.
With an ETIAS visa waiver, you’ll be able to spend up to 90 days per 180-day period in the Schengen Area for tourism or business, or transit purposes. You won’t need to apply each time you travel as the permit is valid for multiple trips across 3 years unless your passport expires first.
Now that the UK is out of the EU a visa or other permit from the Member State will be required should you wish to work or stay in the country long-term as a British citizen.
Another advantage is that you can stay anywhere in the Schengen Area with the same ETIAS. It includes top destinations including Italy, France, and Portugal. Moreover, as there are no internal borders in the Schengen Area you can visit multiple countries on one trip. Especially useful for American tourists who may want to take advantage of the long journey across the pond.
Until the launch of ETIAS is 2022, British and US citizens, and travellers from around 60 other non-EU countries can continue travelling to the European Schengen Area using just a valid passport for up to 90 days.
Other changes to travel after Brexit
Brexit has brought about a number of changes that you need to know about for your next trip to Spain, France, Germany, or anywhere else in the EU.
Firstly, British travellers can no longer use the EU fast-track passport control lanes at the airport and you may need to show your return ticket to prove that you will leave within the 90-day allowance. Remember to leave a little extra time for your journey.
Many British travellers have expressed concern about healthcare in Europe after Brexit. The good news is that EHIC cards issued before the end of 2022 will remain valid until their expiry date. Going forward, the EHIC will be replaced by the new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Nevertheless, it’s important to take out travel health insurance for your trip to Europe.
Travelling with pets
If you’re planning to take your pet with you overseas you need to be aware that pet passports issued in the UK are no longer valid to travel to the EU. Instead, you’ll need to arrange an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) for your pet and ensure it is microchipped and has had a rabies vaccine.
Guaranteed free mobile roaming also ended with Brexit. You should check with your mobile operator to see how much you’ll be charged to use your phone abroad. The UK government has, however, introduced laws to prevent mobile users from being charged large amounts without realising it.
Driving in Europe
Provided you have a photocard licence, you’ll be able to drive in Europe as normal. If you only have a paper licence, however, you’ll need an International Driving Permit to get behind the wheel in a European country. All drivers will need to request a green card from their insurers around 6 weeks before travelling. The green card proves you’re covered for driving in Europe.