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Travel after Brexit: what you need to know

Hero guide to ….travel after Brexit: what you need to know

If you’ve booked a package holiday….

There shouldn’t be any changes as most flights will continue to operate. However, a very small percentage of flights might be grounded (see below) and if yours is one of them, your holiday dates might have to be re-arranged or the trip could be cancelled altogether. If this is the case, you will get a full refund, but you won’t be entitled to automatic compensation as this is something outside the tour operator’s control. Some operators and airlines have included “Brexit clauses” in contracts to make it clear they can’t be held liable in the event of a Brexit-related cancellation.

If you’ve booked a flight…

Most flights are expected to operate as planned, even in a no-deal scenario, but some flights to both EU and non-EU countries might be grounded if we exit the EU without a negotiated deal.  In this case, you’ll get a refund but no compensation. See the full details here. You should also be prepared for longer queues getting through airports in the EU as it’s unlikely British citizens will be allowed to use the EU passport lanes at airports, meaning we’ll have to stand in line together with everyone from the rest of the world.

Some experts have suggested it will take an extra 90 minutes to process a plane-load of passengers arriving from the UK after March 29.

If you’re travelling by ferry or train….

Some ferry operators, including Brittany, have started informing passengers that the timings of their crossings have been changed due to ships being requisitioned to carry essential cargo from the continent. Further changes are possible in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

You should also be prepared for longer queues, both getting on and off ferries and Le Shuttle, as new security checks will have to be put in place in the event of a no-deal Brexit. These will affect cargo as well as passengers, so if you get stuck behind a lorry load of sheep, heaven knows how long you might have to wait.

Passports  – check how long is left on yours

If we leave with a deal, nothing will change until the end of the transition period in December 2020, but if we leave without a deal, if you’re travelling to countries in the Schengen zone (which is the majority of EU countries), you will need at least six months remaining on your passport to enter countries in the EU, and at least three months left when you return to the UK.

However, the remaining months would be measured from the date the passport was issued, so if unused months from your previous passport were added to your existing passport, these additional months will no longer be valid. As some travellers will have had up to 9 unused months added to their passports, some travellers with as much as 15 months left on their passports could be barred from entering countries in the EU.

The new rules don’t apply when travelling to Ireland. Also, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania are not in Schengen so you need to check the entry requirements for these countries with the Foreign Office

Will you still be able to take your pet on holiday?

You will, but you need to start making contingency plans in case there’s a no-deal because then the rules will change. Latest advice from the government is to contact your vet at least 4 months before travelling, because you might need to get your dog, cat or whatever microchipped and then vaccinated against rabies and then your pet will have to have a blood sample taken three months later to make sure it was successful. There’s further information here . It makes it clear that while you’ll still be able to travel with your pets post Brexit, pet passports will no longer be recognised in the EU, so it’ll no longer be as simple as sticking Rover in your Land Rover and motoring down to France after March 29 if we crash out of the EU.

Talking of driving…

You might need an international driver’s permit (remember them?), which you can get from the Post Office (if you can find a branch that hasn’t been closed due to budget cuts) from February 1 for £5.50. Make sure you pick up the correct form because there are three different types of permit, so you’ll need to find out which one you need for the countries you’re planning to visit. If you’re touring across Europe, you might need all 3.  You won’t need an international driver’s permit for Ireland.

If you’re driving your own car to an EU country, you’re also likely to need to get a Green Card from your insurance company, although the government is trying to get the EU to back down on this. You won’t need one for a hire car.

What about the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)?

Unless there’s a deal with the EU, we’re not likely to be able to access free health care in Europe after March 29 so you’re EHIC won’t be valid. Make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance instead.

And mobile roaming charges?

These could become a thing again as roaming charges imposed by UK operators would no longer be regulated. However, mobile operators have said that, at the moment, they have no plans to introduce roaming charges. In any event, the government has said it will ensure operators apply a £45 per month limit on mobile data usage abroad and that customers are sent alerts when they’ve used up 80% and 100% of their data. The best advice is to check with your mobile phone service provider before you leave home and if they’re no longer offering free roaming, remember to turn off your data when you travel to avoid accidentally racking up a bill. You could also consider switching to a cheaper operator, especially if you travel frequently.

What about passenger rights?

The good news is the UK government has said that your rights to compensation for delayed and cancelled flights will be protected after March 29. Find out how to make a claim here. Also, if you book a package holiday, there will be no change to the financial and legal protection you have now as this is covered by the EU Package Travel Directive, which has been written into UK law.



Linsey McNeill

A journalist and travel writer of 35 years' standing, a once-a-week yogi, terrible skier and out-of-order mum to 2 teens. Previously Editor of TravelMole.com, bylines also include The Telegraph, The Times, The Observer, the London Evening Standard, Which? and The South China Morning Post.

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