The UK has finally left the EU after over four and a half years of planning. We’ve spent the last few days digesting the EU-UK Brexit deal to work out what it means for your future European holidays. Here’s all you need to know:
1. Can I visit Europe like I used to?
Yes. And no. Currently, coronavirus restrictions have put a stop to most holidays abroad, but when restrictions are hopefully eased in the summer, you should see no immediate change to your city break or beach holiday abroad.
This is because the EU and the UK have agreed that travel for short visits will not require a visa. UK passport holders can spend up to 90 days, out of every 180 days, inside the Schengen zone without restriction. This can be as numerous short trips or one long stay.
Travel to non-Schengen countries (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania) do not use up any days from this 90-day allowance, neither does travel to Ireland which is part of the common travel area for British nationals.
From a currently unconfirmed date in 2022, you'll need to purchase a visa waiver for trips to Europe. Not a visa in itself, but similar to the ESTA system in use in the USA which simply permits you to enter visa-free.
For Brits used to spending more time in Europe, the outlook is not so simple. Currently, it looks like you might need to apply for a long-term visa, which can be complicated and expensive. That said, each European country has the right to set its own entry terms. Hopefully, countries keen to attract Brits in the future will offer easy and inexpensive non-work visas. Wait and see on that one.
2. Driving Abroad
Good news here – the UK driving license will still be valid in Europe, so you won’t need to apply for an international driving license (available from the Post Office). If you plan to drive to Europe from the UK, you’ll need to contact your insurance company for a green card to prove the level of insurance cover you have.
Green cards will also be required for residents of Northern Ireland driving into the Republic.
Hopefully, the EU will end the green card requirement shortly. Let's see.
3. Health Cover
Some good news here too. According to the NHS website, your EHIC card is valid until it expires. After your EHIC expires, you'll be able to apply for a new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Full details have yet to be announced, but early indications are that the GHIC will be a slimmed-down version of the EHIC, providing healthcare to Brits abroad at the same cost as a local resident.
One big change is that the EHIC will be valid in European Union countries, but not all Schengen countries. Therefore, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein, and Switzerland are excluded. However, the UK does have reciprocal agreements with many other countries, including Australia, the BVIs, Falklands, and many more. A full list is available on the NHS website.
The days of the Calais booze run are over. Travellers returning from the EU will be limited to 18 litres of wine, 42 litres of beer, and 4 litres of spirits/liqueurs over 22% alcohol. You can also bring back 200 cigarettes.
5. Compensation for flight delays
Thankfully EU261 still applies. This regulation provides customers with compensation should the airline cause an avoidable delay. Compensation starts at €250/person if your flight is delayed over 3hrs. For more information, see our blog post Claim a minimum of €250 if your flight is delayed more than 3 hours under EU-regulations.
Travel insurance is more important than ever
Travel insurance is designed to cover three main things:
- Cancellation Cover – insures the cost of your holiday should you be unable to travel for a specific reason, such as hospitalisation, catching COVID, or home flooding. Exclusions apply and all policies are different, so read your policy carefully before buying.
- Baggage Cover – if your luggage gets damaged or lost, insurance will help get you up and running until you are reunited with your possessions. You can also be covered for damage to property whilst travelling.
- Medical Cover – perhaps the most important aspect of travel insurance, especially post Brexit and during COVID times. This will cover you for all medical concerns you have whilst away, even pre-existing conditions provided you disclosed them when buying your policy.
If you have any questions, or to talk to a member of our team, call us on 01243 964666.
Wishing all our customers a happy new year.