Travelling after Brexit

Whilst many members have already booked their trips for 2019 and are ready to travel regardless of what political agreement is reached, a number of specific questions have been raised about what might happen after 29 March 2019 when the UK leaves the European Union (EU). Although the political process is still ongoing and we don't yet know the final outcome, the government and ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) have issued advice to help prepare for various scenarios.

We've identified the information below as being the most relevant to those travelling abroad with caravans and motorhomes, in the hope that it will help you find out what impact Brexit may have on your holiday plans.

Passports

The entry requirements for British passport holders to EU countries may change after the UK leaves the EU (regardless of a 'deal' or 'no deal' being agreed) although for most people no action should be required as existing passports will remain valid. However, if your passport will be older than 9 years and 6 months on the date you plan to travel, the official advice is that you should renew it in advance of travel. If this applies to you please allow plenty of time for your passport renewal application process.

According to the Schengen Border Code, passports must:

  • Have been issued within the last 10 years on the date of arrival in a Schengen country
  • Have at least 6 months’ validity remaining on the date of arrival.

Please note that if you have previously renewed your passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your current passport expiry date. These extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months that should be remaining on your passport. Therefore as above, if your passport will be older than 9 years and 6 months on the date of travel to the EU you should renew it in advance of travel.

Due to the ongoing and dynamic nature of the Brexit negotiations please always check the latest advice from the government and ABTA on travel to Europe.

VISAs

The official advice from ABTA is that you shouldn’t need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit. The European Commission announced in November 2018 that, even in a no-deal scenario, UK travellers can still visit the EU without a visa for up to 90 days, providing the same is offered to European citizens visiting the UK.

The Club's advice is that whilst we don't think there'll be a problem, due to the ongoing and dynamic nature of the Brexit negotiations members should always check both the government and ABTA websites for the latest update in case this position changes.

EHIC (Health cover and travel insurance)

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is designed to allow any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country, although with significant limitations in many instances. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK registered EHICs may no longer be valid.

Given the limitations of EHIC, the Club has always recommended that members travelling abroad have suitable travel insurance in place. This advice hasn't changed and we believe it is now even more important to have adequate travel insurance (personal health cover, accident and breakdown cover for your car, caravan, motorhome) when travelling overseas.

The Club's Red Pennant scheme covers all of these tailored to your personal situation.

Driving Licences

Currently UK driving licences can be used to drive in Europe. In a no deal Brexit scenario this may change and members may need to apply for the relevant International Driving Permit (IDP) which is an official, multi-language translation of your driving licence and costs £5.50.

There are 2 types of IDPs and which one you require depends on which EU country you're visiting. You'll need to check which one is applicable to the country you're travelling to and note that you may need both types of IDP if travelling to multiple countries.

Ireland, Spain, Malta, Cyprus require the 1949 Convention IDP. This is valid for 12 months from the day of issue and can be purchased at selected Post Offices.  

All other EU countries plus Norway and Switzerland require the 1968 Convention IDP. This is valid for 3 years, or for however long your driving licence is valid, if that date is earlier. The 1968 convention will only come into force for the UK on 28 March 2019 and can only be purchased from 1 February 2019 at selected Post Offices.  

The Club's advice is due to the ongoing and dynamic nature of the Brexit negotiations members should always check the government website for the latest update in case this position changes.

Pet passports

Pets should still be able to travel with their owners after Britain leaves the EU. However there may be additional documentation and health checks required in a ‘no deal’ scenario as your pet passport may no longer be valid.

The government has advised pet owners planning to travel immediately after 29th March 2019 to contact their vet at least four months in advance of travel. 

If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal it may become a 'third country' for the purposes of the EU Pet Travel Scheme but we don't yet know which of the 3 possible categories of 'third country' will be assigned.

In the worst case scenario of the UK being classified as an 'unlisted third country' your pet will need an up to date rabies vaccination and a blood test to demonstrate sufficient levels of rabies antibody. The blood test should be carried out a minimum of 30 days after the vaccination and minimum of 3 months before travel date. For this reason the government is advising to start the process 4 months prior to your travel date. 

Your veterinarian will be able to advise what you need to do depending on previous treatment or blood tests that your pet might have received.

To stay up to date with the latest information, see the government advice.

Coming back to the UK with your pet

The government has said that there will be no change to the current requirements for pets entering the UK from the EU after 29th March.

Tapeworm treatment should be administered between 24 and 120 hours before your scheduled entry back to the UK.

Your pet must have one of the following documents when returning to the UK:

  • an existing EU pet passport (both for UK and EU citizens)

  • the EU health certificate issued in the UK used to travel to the EU

  • a UK pet health certificate (issued outside the UK for travel into the UK only)

The Club's advice is due to the ongoing and dynamic nature of the Brexit negotiations members should always check the government website for the latest update in case this position changes.  

Vehicle insurance green card

When the UK leaves the EU members may need to carry an International Certificate of Insurance (Green card) as proof of 3rd party motor insurance cover when driving in the EU.

These cards are issued by your vehicle insurer, possibly for a small fee to cover administration costs.

The Club's advice is that you should contact your insurer in good time prior to departure to obtain your Green Card if necessary and to ensure you have suitable cover in place for your trip.

Due to the ongoing and dynamic nature of the Brexit negotiations members should always check the government website for the latest update in case this position changes.  

Mobile phone roaming charges

Currently there is a surcharge-free mobile roaming regulation in place across the EU so that you don't pay more whilst in the EU than you do at home.

Brexit should not stop UK operators working with EU partners to provide phone connectivity and data roaming arrangements but the pricing would be a commercial decision for the mobile operators. As a consequence, surcharge-free mobile roaming in the EU may not continue to be standard across every mobile phone package after Brexit, and different terms and conditions may apply affecting amount of calls, texts, data you can use.

The Club's advice is to check the roaming policies of your mobile operator before you go abroad and consider switching operator if there is a better deal available elsewhere. Also make sure you know how to turn off data roaming on your handset.

Travel to the Republic of Ireland after Brexit

The Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement between the UK and the Republic of Ireland was developed to allow citizens of both countries to move freely between them without immigration checks. The CTA pre-dates Irish and UK membership of the EU so is not dependent on UK membership of the EU. Both the Government of Ireland and the UK Government have currently committed to maintaining the CTA in all scenarios so citizens of both countries can continue to travel freely between them.

The CTA means that there are no passport controls in operation for Irish and UK citizens travelling between the 2 countries however, all air and sea carriers require some form of identification and some regard a passport as the only valid identification. Also the immigration authorities may require you to have valid official photo-identification which shows your nationality so as you're being asked to prove that you are an Irish or UK citizen who is entitled to avail of the CTA arrangements, it is advisable to travel with your passport.

Top questions

What if my holiday cannot go ahead because of Brexit?

There is nothing to suggest that holidays will not be able to operate even in the event of a no deal Brexit. In the unlikely event of this worst case scenario, booking with a package tour operator such as the Club will ensure your holidays have full financial protection. If you book a package, your holiday will be protected under the Package Travel Regulations, meaning you have a right to a full refund if your holiday can no longer be provided.

Will there be delays at the ports because of Brexit?

Eurotunnel, the ferry companies and the port authorities have given assurances that they are doing everything to keep the ports running as efficiently as possible with some advising to leave extra time for security, check-in and boarding procedures. Our advice would be to check on the operator websites or social feeds (Twitter etc.) for the most up-to-date information before travel and arrive in plenty of time to get through check in for your booked departure. It may be a good idea to have a comfort break prior to arrival at port and to have refreshments in the vehicle in the event of delay, especially if children and pets are travelling.

Here are the links to the Eurotunnel and ferry operator websites where you can check the latest travel information:  

Eurotunnel: https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/home/

P&O: http://www.poferries.com/en/portal

DFDS: https://www.dfdsseaways.co.uk/

Brittany: https://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/

Stena: https://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferry-to-holland

Irish Ferries: https://www.irishferries.com/uk-en/to-ireland-from-britain/

Is there any difference to documentation I need to take on holiday?

See separate text for specifics on passports, driving licences, insurance documents, pet passports and EHIC. In general, not knowing what the enforcement regimes will be post Brexit, we feel it is prudent to check that you have all relevant documentation with you and ensure it is up to date, e.g. V5 vehicle registration document etc.

Visit the Club's Useful Information section for more.

What is ETIAS and will it affect my travel plans?

ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) is the electronic system that the EU is planning to introduce which it can use to track individuals entering the area from countries that do not require a visa, similar to the ESTA scheme in USA. The planned launch date is 2021 and UK citizens may need to pay a fee (of around 7 Euros) for this visa exemption.

What difference does it make to my holiday plans if there is a deal or no deal?

No deal means there is no immediate agreement on many topics so the worst case scenarios listed above may apply.   

A deal means that there should be a transition period until Dec 2020 before which few changes will impact your plans. However there may still be uncertainty on certain topics so the advice is to keep abreast of developments.

See more

Useful links

Due to the ongoing and dynamic nature of the Brexit negotiations, you should check the government and ABTA websites for the most up-to-date travel information.

www.gov.uk

www.abta.com