Many groups have questions about what might happen when the UK leaves the European Union (EU). While the political situation still remains uncertain, ABTA has identified actions travellers may wish to take in advance to help avoid unnecessary future disruption.
This information only covers areas where travellers can take reasonable action or put plans into place now. Areas where the situation is still unclear are not included, but the information will be updated once clarified. Please see a summary below of the latest advice from ABTA, more information can be found here.
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Brexit: advice for travellers
The UK Government and the European Union (EU) have both said that people will still be able to travel to and from the EU after Brexit. Naturally, UK travellers have questions about what Brexit means for travelling to EU countries. While the situation is evolving rapidly, ABTA has put together the following advice, answering common questions and explaining any steps travellers may need to take to avoid any unnecessary disruption due to a no-deal exit.
Travel before 31 January 2020
The UK is still a member of the EU, which means that all existing travel arrangements still apply. For example, you still have access to state medical care in any EU country as long as you have an up to date European Health Insurance Card and you can continue to use the EU/EEA passport gates. If your travel to an EU country sees you depart the UK before 31 January 2020, but you don’t return until afterwards, please read our advice about travel after 31 January 2020 as there may be some steps you need to take to avoid any unnecessary disruption in the event of a no-deal.
Travel after 31 January 2020
If the Government agrees a deal before 31 January 2020, the UK will enter a transition period, meaning everything will continue to remain the same during that period and you can continue to travel as you do now. With a no-deal, UK travellers have had reassurances from the UK Government and European Commission that they will still be able to travel, as there is either contingency legislation in place or the travel services are covered by international law. If the UK does leave the EU without a deal, there will be some changes and there are some actions you may need to take in advance so that you can continue with your trip as planned.
Common questions about travel after 31 January 2020
Will flights still operate?
If a deal is agreed then we will be in a transition period, meaning everything will stay the same until the end of December 2020 and flights will continue as normal. Under existing contingency arrangements in a no-deal scenario the European Commission has said that UK airlines will still be able to operate flights between the UK and the EU under contingency legislation. The UK Government has offered similar assurances for EU airlines.
Will ferries and cruise ships still sail?
Ferry services and cruises will still sail as the majority of the rules under which they operate are not based on EU rules, but are international.
Will my coach journey still operate?
Coaches will still be able to travel to and from the EU, and are expected to continue to take passengers to and around EU countries as usual.
Will trains from the UK to the EU still operate?
It is expected that trains from the UK to the EU will continue to operate. Ahead of your journey, check with your travel company to see if there is any additional information you need to be aware of.
Will I need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit?
The European Parliament has confirmed that UK travellers won’t need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit for short-term business or leisure trips, even if the UK leaves without a deal. UK citizens will be able to visit the EU for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa.
Should I take out travel insurance to cover Brexit?
The best way to protect your trip is to book a package – it is then the travel provider’s responsibility to make sure your holiday is provided and to offer an alternative or refund if it cannot be delivered.
It is important that whenever and wherever you travel that you have adequate travel insurance which covers your specific needs, including any known medical conditions or activities you plan to do. It is also worth checking the detail of the policy around travel disruption including delays or cancellations as policies do vary. You can also speak to your travel insurance provider about whether they provide any specific cover for Brexit.
Advice for travellers
This information only covers areas where you can take reasonable action or put plans into place now. Areas where the situation is still unclear are not included, but the information will be updated once clarified. The Government also has information for travellers available at gov.uk/EUexit
Check the date your passport expires. If we leave the EU without a deal, the UK Government recommends that you have six months left on your passport on the date of your arrival in an EU country, this applies to adult and child passports. Note that the six months on your passport is only required if you are travelling after the date the UK leaves the EU.
You should also check when your passport was renewed. If you renewed a 10-year adult passport before it expired, extra months may have been added to your passport’s expiry date. These extra months over 10 years will not count towards the 6 months that must be remaining. The UK Government has published a website tool to check the validity of your passport under these rules. You can renew your passport online or by going to a Post Office with a Check and Send service. You may wish to renew your passport sooner rather than later, in order to make sure you have it in time for your travel plans.
Full details on how to renew your passport or check a passport for travel to Europe after Brexit can be found here.
European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK registered EHICs will no longer be valid. ABTA has always advised travellers to make sure they have appropriate travel insurance, whether they have an EHIC card or not, as there are limitations to EHIC. When travelling in the EU and beyond, it is important you take out travel insurance and check that it covers your current circumstances, including any medical conditions. If you have an annual policy, make sure you check the Terms and Conditions and contact your insurance provider if you’re not sure.
Under EU rules, the cost of making calls, sending messages or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same in the UK. If the UK leaves without a deal these rules will no longer apply – however, some UK companies have said they may continue to offer this benefit to their customers. Before you travel, check with your mobile phone provider about the costs of using your phone in the EU.