‘Brexit’ is the buzzword that refers to Britain’s exit from the European Union. After a 2016 referendum, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (the political and economic union of 28 countries in Europe). Four years later, the UK officially left the EU on 31 January 2020. However, to allow for time to set up a trade deal that worked for all sides, it was agreed to keep many existing regulations the same until 31 December 2020.
After months and months of negotiations, a Brexit deal was finalised on 24 December 2020. This brings in a new era of rules for how the UK and the EU will live, work and trade together. Importantly, Brexit will affect travel for UK and EU citizens.
Below, we answer some of the common questions prospective Expat Explore travellers have raised related to Brexit:
Currently, Covid-19 is complicating things as travel is restricted in the UK and in many EU countries. While the situation will become clearer in passing months, the British government, as well as the European Union, have released information on the agreed-to Brexit deal.
In a quick overview, Brexit brings about the end of free movement for UK nationals to work, travel and settle in the European Union (and vice versa). As mentioned above, the people most affected by Brexit will be citizens from the UK and the EU. Citizens from the UK travelling to the EU will have to prepare for some changes, and for EU citizens travelling to the UK.
People are still able to travel through both the UK and EU countries, much as before. The difference will come in the form of changes such as new passport rules, a limited period of stay, different airport lines and changes to border crossing procedures.
In 2020, Covid-19 disrupted travel. Those disruptions continue into 2021 as many countries continue to implement restrictions. However, as the vaccines are rolled out, there is definitely hope for travel this year!
While Covid-19 is affecting many 2021 travel plans, Brexit should not have too much of an impact this year. Changes may potentially come in the form of extra admin and longer wait times at border control. British citizens will need to have passports valid for 6 months from the day of entry that are less than 10 years old when visiting EU countries. Britons may also be asked to present a return/onward ticket and prove that they have enough money for the duration of their trip. They will also have to use separate passport control lanes to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens.
Keeping up to date with information from your government and the relevant embassies is the best way to prepare for travel after Brexit.
Again, Brexit will have the biggest impact on UK and EU citizens travelling to and from the United Kingdom and the European Union.
British citizens will be able to stay as a tourist in most European Union countries (this covers the Schengen area plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) for up to 90 days within a 180 day period without a visa. It is slightly different if you are travelling to Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria or Romania as visits to other EU countries don’t count towards the 90 day total.
Currently, citizens of the EU can stay in the UK for up to 6 months. Until 1 October 2021, EU citizens can enter the UK with a national ID card. Afterwards, they will need a passport and the relevant documents.
So what will happen to passports after Brexit? As mentioned earlier, British citizens will need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months and is less than 10 years old to enter EU countries. Once your current British passport expires, you will be issued with a new dark blue-coloured UK passport (that will not include “European Union” on the cover or first page).
All our British travellers are advised to ensure that their passports are valid for 6 months after the dates they travel with Expat Explore. As always, we prompt all our travellers to check all passport and visa regulations before undertaking an international trip. This is no different. No matter which passport you hold, take the time to research visa and passport regulations for any and all borders you will cross in the course of your journey. It largely depends on your country of origin and where you are going.
UK citizens will not be able to use the EU, EEA and Swiss citizen lanes at airports and passport control. Keep in mind that this could lead to longer waiting times.
When visiting countries in the EU, British citizens will go through new border check procedures. You may be asked to show a ticket for return or onward travel. You could also be asked to prove that you have enough money to support yourself for the duration on your stay. These additional procedures may take extra time. Longer border checks won’t occur for British people travelling to Ireland.
At Expat Explore, our top priority is to ensure that our tours run with minimal disruption. We keep up to date with the latest developments and will communicate this info with our travellers where needed. So you can safely plan your travel after Brexit with us.
If you are a UK citizen, you will not need a visa for short trips (up to 90 days in a 180 day period). You will need to apply for a visa or permit to stay longer, for work, study or business travel.
Within a year or so, the EU is planning to implement European Travel Information and Authorization Systems (ETIAS). This is aimed at reducing the migration, security or public health risk that comes from nationals of visa-exempt third countries. Once ETIAS is launched, this will be an extra step for travellers from the UK. You’ll need to complete an online form and pay £7 for a permit that will last 3 years. When you arrive at an EU border, you’ll have your data verified, be photographed or provide a fingerprint and answer a set of questions.
European visa rules and regulations will, for the most part, remain the same. As always, passengers with valid passports and the correct visa(s) will be allowed to travel from London to all countries in and around Europe. Brexit does not have an effect on visa policies of the Schengen Region.
Read more about visa information, here.
At Expat, we try hard to keep our prices stable, and as it stands currently, the cost of your booked tour will not be increased. In fact, the safest option when booking any post-Brexit holidays is, arguably, by purchasing travel packages. This is because your trips will be organised by knowledgeable travel experts, and you’ll be able to enjoy your journey without much stress.
Currently, the biggest issues affecting flights are Covid-19 restrictions. Brexit doesn’t mean you need to change your flights. You may have to prepare for slightly longer wait times in passport control lines if you are a non-EU citizen.
You can also consider flying to a country in Europe as an alternative departure point for your tour. The Expat Explore booking team is available to help you decide what your best options are and how to meet up with your tour group there.
One thing you won’t have to worry about during and after Brexit is your travel insurance! Our preferred providers, World Nomads, work internationally and they assure their customers that they will still provide valid travel insurance. For insurance to be valid, however, travellers will need to ensure that they have valid passports and follow any other travel requirements. Learn more here.
All our tours to Europe, the UK, and Ireland are still guaranteed to depart from designated departure points in London, Amsterdam, Dublin, Madrid, Munich, Paris, Rome, and Venice (as stated on our website’s Tour Help Section). As mentioned above, if your tour departs or arrives in London, you can consider changing your starting point to Europe, rather than London.
Here are more changes announced since Brexit was finalised:
Learn more about these, and other effects of Brexit here.
Europe is still one of the safest places in the world to travel to. It has excellent public transport, cultural diversity and amazing experiences for travellers from all walks of life – none of this has changed. We promise to keep bringing you expertly planned tours to the UK and Europe and will continue to keep you up to date with changes in policies, visas or border controls.
As always, we have your best interests at heart and promise to keep you well-informed on this topic as more information becomes available. If you’ve booked a tour with us, and you wish to speak to anyone on our team about Brexit, please let us know.
We’re happy to answer any questions and concerns you may have and provide you with expert assistance throughout the planning phase of your journey. It’s important to us that you have peace of mind when you embark on your tour of Europe.