Travel to and within Europe from 01st January 2021

After almost four years of negotiating, the European Union and the United Kingdom agreed a post-Brexit agreement on trade and other issues on 24 December 2020. The requirements for travel to and within Europe from 01 January 2021 are clearly detailed within this agreement and we have highlighted the salient points below. You can access the Government advice here.

From 01 January 2021, United Kingdom 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 in your case.

This requirement applies to all member states plus Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino and the Vatican City. No restrictions are in place for travel to the Republic of Ireland.

Member states: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

Length of stay:
Travellers from the United Kingdom are permitted to stay a maximum of 90 days in Europe during a rolling 180 day period. Each trip is counted towards your allowance.

A visa is not required for travel to/within Europe at this time. For 2022, a travel authorisation may be required but this has yet to be confirmed or agreed.

Air passenger rights:
Existing passenger rights such as those relating to denied boarding, delay or cancellation remain in place post 01 January 2021.

EHIC cards:
The UK-EU agreement stipulates 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 the historic agreement in place 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 whilst overseas, 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.

It is important to stress that the EHIC/GHIC is not a substitute of travel insurance, and we recommend that your policy not only covers medical but also repatriation and cancellations due to Covid-19 related issues.

Driving licences:
It has been confirmed that full UK driving licences will be accepted for driving within Europe - both for the use of your own vehicle 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 from 1 January 2021. These are available from the Post Office.

Mobile phone roaming charges:
The UK-EU agreement does not guarantee free roaming charges, as we have been used to. This means that mobile operators could introduce fees for Brits using their phone in EU countries. However, the agreement urges providers to charge “transparent and reasonable rates” for roaming. We'd recommend that you check with your mobile operator prior to any travel overseas to familiarise yourself with any charges that may apply.