The UK’s exit from the European Union has been fraught with uncertainty, and with the leave date now fast approaching, there are still many questions about what changes lie ahead – including the impact it will have on holidaymakers.
Ahead of the official exit day of 31 January, ABTA, the UK’s travel industry trade association, has issued new guidance for British tourists on what to expect post-Brexit.
A ‘transition period’
Europe is the top overseas destination for UK travellers, attracting more than 58 million trips every year, and holidaymakers are naturally concerned about what impact Brexit will have on future travels to European countries.
Following withdrawal from the EU, the UK will enter an 11-month ‘transition period’ up until the end of this year, during which ABTA says everything will remain the same.
This means Brits can continue to travel as they do now until at least the end of December 2020.
Previous guidance had suggested there could be immediate changes to passport validity and health care, while driving licences and taking pets abroad were also set to be affected.
However, the travel association has now said it expects arrangements for EU travel, including passports and European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC), to remain the same until at least the end of this year.
ABTA says: “If Parliament ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement before 31 January 2020, which it is on track to do, the UK will enter a transition period, meaning everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel as you do now until at least the end of December 2020.”
This means UK travellers will still be able to use valid passports when heading to European countries, and will still be permitted to use the same gates at border checkpoints.
EHIC cards will also still be valid, with no changes expected to be made until at least the end of 2020.
Advice for travellers
If you are due to be travelling abroad to Europe after Brexit day on Friday 31 January 2020, ABTA has issued guidance on a number of frequently asked questions from British holidaymakers.
Here is some of the key advice for travel to Europe after Brexit:
Will flights still operate?
Flights will still operate to European countries after 31 January 2020.
If a deal is agreed then the UK will enter a ‘transition period’, during which everything will remain the same until the end of December 2020, with flights continuing as normal.
What about ferries, cruise ships, coaches and trains?
Ferry services and cruises will still sail, as the majority of rules under which they operate are not based on EU rules, but instead are international.
Coaches will also still be able to travel to and from the EU, and around EU countries, while trains from the UK to the EU will continue to operate as normal.
Will I need a visa to travel to the EU?
UK travellers will not need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit.
Will I need to take out travel insurance to cover Brexit?
The best way to protect your holiday is to book a package deal, ABTA advises.
In this case, it is the responsibility of the travel company to make sure your holiday is provided and to offer an alternative, or a refund, if it cannot be delivered.
If you haven’t booked a package deal, it is advisable to check with your individual insurance provider about your cover ahead of your trip.
Can I still use my passport?
Valid passports can still be used but must be valid for the entire duration of your trip.
You do not need to have six months left on your passport to travel to the EU.
Can I still use my European Insurance Card?
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) permits any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country.
In the event of a Brexit deal, any UK registered EHIC card will still be valid throughout 2020.
Holidaymakers are also advised to have appropriate travel insurance for their trip, regardless of whether they have an EHIC card, as there are limitations to it.
Can I still use my UK driving licence?
Providing you have a full UK driving licence, you don’t currently need an additional licence to drive in the EU and this will not change following the 31 January 2020 leave date.
An International Driving Permit will not be required, and you do not need a GB sticker or a Green Card for car insurance.
Can I still take my pets abroad?
It will still be permitted to take pets abroad after 31 January 2020, with no changes yet to come into force.
Will costs of calls still be the same?
Under EU rules, the cost of making calls, sending messages, or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same as in the UK.
This will continue after 31 January 2020.