a blue flag with yellow stars on a wooden surface

The UK Government has unveiled a website with guidance for what Brits venturing into Europe can expect, come January 1st, 2021, when the transition period of the UK’s exit out of the European Union has ended. For travelers, it’s instantly nowhere near as enjoyable, and yes, you’ll need to join the “all other passports” queue.

This advice applies to EU Countries, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

a sign with flags on itAll Other Passports

Brits will need a passport with a minimum of six months validity remaining, and it must be under 10 years old, even if it’s got six months. The most instantly noticeable change for travelers heading to Europe will be the queue they join, with no further access to the EU/EEA/CH signs.

Fear not though, visas won’t be necessary for short tourism trips.

Instead, those traveling on British Passports will be sent to the “all other passports” queues, joining those from the Americas, Asia, Pacific, Africa, Middle East and beyond. And yes, for the most part, you can expect this to take much longer than the good ole’ EU lines.

Proof Of Onward Travel

The UK Government now notes that anyone entering Europe on a UK passport should be prepared to show proof of onward travel, and understand new limitations to any and all visits. This effectively means that if you want to enter Europe, you should be prepared to show confirmation of travel leaving Europe at the same time.

It’s not out of bounds for immigration authorities in Europe to also request proof of necessary funding to sustain the trip, or to question what you plan on doing, seeing, visiting during the time.

The maximum amount of time someone traveling on a British passport will be able to spend in Europe is 90 days out of a rolling 180. If you’re hoping to stay longer and aren’t a dual national, you’ll likely need a working visa, or exemption. If you’re traveling on business, here’s the official government resource on what changes.

a blue flag with yellow stars on a wooden surfaceConsumer Rights Not Changing For Delays

In perhaps one silver lining, consumer rights will remain the same, at least according to the government. This means flight delays or cancellations will be treated the same after January 1st, 2021 as they are now, and EU261 compensation rules will still apply, at least on flights to Europe. It remains to be clarified whether this will apply to other destinations.

Essentially, travelers will still benefit from rights to refund, or even compensation if and when travel plans are significantly impacted by delays and cancellations not caused by weather. The UK website offers “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.”

No More EHIC Health Insurance

All European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will expire December 31st, 2020. This means travel to Europe will become more complicated for those looking to have appropriate health and travel insurance in place. UK GOV has a resource on recommendations for finding appropriate levels of cover.

Basically, you’re no longer entitled to free or discounted care abroad in Europe automatically, and will need to find something to replace this benefit, if you want to be covered.

a black passport with gold text on itFree Roaming May No Longer Be Free

As part of the EU, UK travelers enjoyed free roaming across Europe. Come January 1st, 2021, the distinctions will be left to the mobile providers, and some policies and carriers may no longer count Europe as free roaming. All details remain to be seen from the phone carriers themselves, but the guaranteed protections are gone.

If you’re booking travel plans to Europe beyond January 1st, 2021, be sure to confirm what your carrier considers included in the roaming zones, since much may have changed.

Pets Become A Hassle For European Travel

With the UK in the EU, pets could make the journey as easily as their human counterparts, so long as they had a pet passport. Come 2021, that will no longer be the case, and anyone hoping to take their British pets abroad is told to start the process at least four months in advance of travel.

The UK offers official guidance on what needs to be done, but it’s expensive, and will require at least four months lead time to bring pets along to Europe from the 1st of January, 2021.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Presumably Europeans travelling to UK will face similar restrictions too ? I can see a lot of horse trading before all this is set in stone.

  2. The headline is misleading. The use of ‘will be’…. when there so many uncertainties and decisions not agreed. May be or could be are obviously less sensationalist but are accurate.

    1. Literally every point of this article is based on official advice from a UK government resource. This is their best working guess, so for now, it’s mine too….

  3. This is the worst case scenario.
    But even with an EU passport and the above assumptions, EHIC won’t apply as a UK resident.

    1. I wouldn’t think this gov would be advertising worst case solutions, but rather a realistic look. Another gov, sure, but this gov i’d think is providing a pretty real assessment…

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