EU Travel from 1st January 2021
Updated: Feb 21, 2022
At 11pm on the 31st December 2020, the UK finally left the EU and we are officially - on our own! With this transition comes a number of changes and challenges for a number of industries, and in particular there are a number changes to travel.
From the 1st January 2021, UK passport holders will be required to have a minimum six months' validity remaining on their passport. The validity is calculated from the date of issue (and not the date of expiry detailed on the document) and therefore the easiest way to ensure that your passport is acceptable to travel is to check that your passport was issued less than nine years, six months ago. You can use the government's passport checker to see whether a renewal is required if you are not sure: https://www.gov.uk/check-a-passport-travel-europe
This applies to all EU member states plus Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino and the Vatican City. There are currently no restrictions are in place for travel to the Republic of Ireland.
At the moment a visa is not required for travel to and within Europe. In 2022, a travel authorisation may be required but this has not yet been confirmed.
Length of Stay
Travellers from the UK are permitted to stay a maximum of 90 days in Europe during a rolling 180 day period. Each trip is counted towards your allowance.
The UK-EU agreement states that "individuals that are temporarily staying within another country, for example a UK national who is in an EU member state for a holiday, will have their necessary healthcare needs met for the period of their stay".
Holders of an EHIC card (European Health Insurance Card) can continue to benefit from this agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union member states. From 2021 the EHIC card will be replaced with a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). You can use a UK passport to get medically necessary healthcare in Norway.
If your EHIC card has expired, and you travel before the new GHIC cards are introduced, and you require medical treatment when abroad, you can apply for a PRC by calling Overseas Healthcare Services at the NHS Business Services Authority on +44 (0)191 218 1999, Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
PLEASE NOTE: the EHIC/GHIC is not a substitute of travel insurance, and I highly recommend that your policy not only covers medical but also repatriation and cancellations due to Covid-19 as well.
Full UK driving licences will be accepted for driving within Europe - both for the use of your own car and rental cars. If you have a paper licence or your driving licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man you may need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries and Norway. You can get these from the Post Office.
Mobile Phone Roaming Charges
The UK-EU agreement does not guarantee free roaming charges. This means that mobile operators could introduce fees for Brits using their phone in EU countries. That said, the agreement does urge providers to charge “transparent and reasonable rates” for roaming. I recommend to check with your mobile operator prior to any travel abroad so that you are aware of any charges that may apply while you are away.