Thursday, 24 December 2020

What you need to know about travel to Europe from 1st January 2021 - post Brexit travel

After years of negotiations, some bitterness, a touch of resentment, a few verbal attacks, blockades and recriminations, the UK Government and EU negotiators have agreed on a Brexit trade as of 01 January 2021.  Here are some key things you need to know about travel to Europe now.

You do not need a visa to visit Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway,  Switzerland and most European Union country for short touristic trips, but your passport will need to have at least six months validity left on in and have been issued within the last ten years. More details below.

Your European Health Insurance Card will continue to be valid until its expiry date, except for visits to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. If you don't have one already you can apply for the new Global Health Insurance Card - GHIC.

The GHIC entitles you to free or reduced-cost state-provided healthcare where treatment becomes medically necessary during a temporary visit - like a holiday, to the EU.  It may help to get necessary healthcare in some non-EU countries. Check GOV.UK foreign travel advice pages for more details

Whilst the card is free the medical treatment may not be,  the card gives you access to treatment at the same cost as residents of the country you are visiting. Therefore, in countries that have charges for state healthcare, you will need to pay them and you will not be able to claim the money back.  The bottom line regarding the GHIC is that yes it can help greatly in emergency situations and essential medical treatment it is not a valid alternative to travel insurance, so ideally you should get comprehensive travel insurance which includes repatriation for any trip overseas.  

Apply for a GHIC here. 

You can travel to any Schengen area countries (most of the EU as well as  Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway,  Switzerland) for tourist purposes without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180 day period. Different rules apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries do not count towards the 90-day total.

From the end of 2022, you will need to get a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) to go into any Schengen area country. This is much like the electronic travel authority passes you currently need for USA and Australia. More details here, if you have a Schengen Visa already, then you will not need an ETIAS authorization. Currently, the Schengen visa fee is €80 per adults, the ETIAS authorization current price is €7.

You will need to get a special animal health certificate from your vet if you are taking an animal away with you as the European Union Pet Passport will no longer be valid.

Mobile phone charges may increase as the guarantee of free European roaming will end, although no UK mobile network has indicated plans to bring back excessive charges for overseas use. Plus they can't charge you more than £45 for mobile data without letting you know and getting your approval to spend more. 

Expect a wait at border control - you will not able able to use the 'EU, EEA or Swiss citizens' lanes, so there could be a bit of a wait to get into some European nations. 

You are not able to take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries, with some limited exceptions for things like small amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. 

Driving in the EU is fine for most countries with your existing full British licence, with a few exceptions, which as in Norway, where you'll need an International Driving Permit.

Driving your own car into Europe then you will need to get a green card from your insurance company showing you are fully covered - crucial to show this if you have an accident or are stopped by the police.  You'll also need a GB sticker on the car. 

Duty-Free is coming back..... You'll be able to buy duty-free goods at the airport when heading into Europe and when coming back home.  The allowances are rather generous:

42 litres of beer
18 litres of still wine
4 litres of spirits OR 9 litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22% ABV

200 cigarettes OR
100 cigarillos OR
50 cigars OR
250g tobacco OR
200 sticks of tobacco for heating
or any proportional combination of the above

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