The rules for traveling between the UK and European Union countries will change on the 1st of January 2021. Here are some of the most important points to keep in mind.
1. UK: What happens on January 1st?
Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change from 1 January 2021.
Things you may need to do before you go:
- check your passport
- get travel insurance that covers your healthcare
- check you have the right driving documents
- organize pet travel – contact your vet at least 1 month before you go
There are more things to do if you’re travelling for business. For example, going to meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity), and touring art or music.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
- have at least 6 months left
- be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)
Note: These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.
Healthcare: Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will continue to be valid if you’re traveling to an EU country.
You can use a UK passport to get medically necessary healthcare in Norway (for example emergency treatment, or to treat a pre-existing condition).
If you’re traveling to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you should get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you travel. Make sure it covers any pre-existing conditions that were previously covered by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
UK-issued EHICs after 1 January 2021: Some people can apply for a new UK EHIC that they can continue to use from 1 January 2021 in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. People who can apply for the new card include:
- UK students studying in the EU
- some British State Pensioners who live in the EU and their families
- EU nationals in the UK
2. UK: Entering other countries
At border control, you may need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
- use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing
Visas for short trips: If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.
You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.
Note: Travel to Ireland will not change from 1 January 2021. You’ll also be able to work in Ireland in the same way as before.
3. UK: Driving in other countries
You may need extra documents from 1 January 2021. If you’re taking your own vehicle, you will need a green card and a GB sticker. You might also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have:
- a paper driving license
- a license issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man
4. UK: Mobile roaming
From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end. Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.
A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing. Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.
5. UK: Taking food, drinks, plants into EU countries
You will not be able to take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries from 1 January 2021. There are some exceptions, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.
You’ll need a certificate to take certain plants and plant products into EU countries from 1 January 2021. Check the rules about taking plants and plant products into the EU on the European Commission website.
6. UK: What if your trip is disrupted?
Some travel insurance policies only cover certain types of disruption. Check your provider’s terms and conditions to make sure you have the cover you need if your travel is cancelled or delayed. Your consumer rights will not change from 1 January 2021. This means that if your travel is cancelled or delayed you may be able to claim a refund or compensation. Check your booking’s terms and conditions to find out more.
You’re protected if you buy a package holiday and the company goes out of business. You get this cover even if it’s an EU company, as long as the company sells to UK customers. Otherwise, you can claim compensation if you used your credit card to buy it – you’ll be able to claim for payments between £100 and £30,000.
7. UK: Traveling with pets?
From 1 January 2021 you will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. Instead, you’ll need an animal health certificate (AHC) for your pet. Allow at least 1 month to arrange this and relevant vaccinations. Follow the guidance about pet travel to Europe from 1 January 2021.
8. UK: Other changes
If you’re a business:
- you will need to make a customs declaration if you take goods with you to sell abroad or use for business
- find out what else you need to do to prepare your business during the transition period
9. EU: Can I travel to the UK?
Until 31 December 2020 a transition period applies in accordance with the Withdrawal Treaty during which the current situation is maintained. According to European law, you can stay in the United Kingdom for a maximum of 3 months, with no other condition than being in possession of a valid identity card or passport. There is neither a passport nor a visa obligation.
After 1 January 2021, EU citizens can continue to travel to the United Kingdom for vacation or short stays of maximum 6 months without having to apply for a visa. The British Home Office made an announcement about that. Please note that this does not, in principle, apply to visits for work or study in the United Kingdom, for which a visa will be required. The British Home Office also made an announcement.
EU citizens can still travel to the UK with either a valid identity card or a valid passport. From 1 October 2021, the British government will only accept a valid passport for short stays in the UK.
The European Health Insurance Card will no longer be valid for travel after 31/12/2020. Therefore, we advise you to contact your health insurance fund first. Emergency hospitalization in the UK can, under certain conditions, be taken care of by your health insurance fund. Nonetheless, we also recommend you to take out private travel insurance.
Individuals already legally residing in the United Kingdom before the end of the transition period will be able to travel in and out of the country when in possession of a valid identity card or passport. For non-EU family members, a valid passport is required. See question 1 and question 2. With a “pre-settled status” or “settled status” you will have the right to enter and leave the United Kingdom provided you are in possession of a valid identity card or passport until 31 December 2025.