I’m sure you’ve all heard of Brexit by now. If not, the good-humored idiom of living under a rock rarely applies to a situation as much as it does to Brexit. So, no real surprises then that the United Kingdom final completed its withdrawal from the European Union a fortnight ago, on January 31st, 2019.
But, in terms of travel, what will you actually notice if you go on holiday to the UK this year? What about travelling to Europe? Read on to find out what changes come in play for travellers and what will remain (too easy?) the same.
The transition period
After ongoing negotiations, the agreement was made that existing EU rules will continue to apply until 31 December 2020. If you’re an EU national and book a holiday for this year, you should not expect any changes to travel rules and regulations. An ID card, passport and driver’s license all remain valid.
Things are straightforward for non-EU passport holders, too. For the time being no changes have been made in terms of visa requirements, and simply a passport that is valid for the duration of the trip is necessary.
Travelling between the UK and EU countries
Just as before, when travelling between the UK and a country belonging to the EU, you will have to go through customs and immigration in both countries. Keep in mind that Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are part of the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the Republic of Ireland remains a member of the European Union.
What changes will come after the transition period?
After December 31st, 2020, travellers may have to deal with some changes.
There is one key change that will apply to both UK and EU nationals. Instead of being able to move between countries using just a national ID card, a passport will be required for travel between the UK and the EU.
European health insurance cards will also no longer have coverage in the UK. How other foreign health insurance plans are affected, remains to be seen. Speaking of coverage, using your mobile phone in the UK may become way more expensive, certainly if European roaming rules no longer apply.
The European Union is renown for its compensation scheme regarding delayed and canceled flights. It is still not entirely clear what effect Brexit will have on these traveller-friendly rights, although rules will remain in place if flights are operated by EU carriers.
Airport lines and waiting times will likely change, too. Most passport control and customs checkpoints split passengers between EU and non-EU citizens. All British citizens currently standing in the EU-line, will have to change queue. Depending on where you’re from, this could either speed up or slow down your waiting time.
So, what doesn’t change after the transition period?
Although final agreements are not yet in place, the expectation is that UK nationals will be allowed to travel visa-free to the EU for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, and vice-versa.
Travellers can continue to pay by debit card in the UK, with most European banks not incurring additional costs for those payments.
Finally, all travel by bus, train and ferry/cruise is expected to continue without any post-Brexit changes. Passport and ID checks already take place at departure points and any traveller who needed a visa before, should continue to make sure they have them.