Brexit advice for travellers in Europe

If you have a British passport, you must have at least three months of validity left. Also, your passport must have been issued within the last 10 years. If you had renewed your current passport before the previous one expired and extra months were added beyond the standard 10-year expiry date, these no longer count. 

You can use the Government’s passport checker as a guide to see if you need to renew your passport. The passport office is advising that it may take up to 10 weeks to process applications. 


If you are going on a short holiday, you won’t need a visa for trips to Europe. At border control, you may need to show a return ticket and that you have enough money for your stay. And when going through passport control, you may not be able to use the EU or EEA lanes.

The UK government says British holidaymakers can apply for a visa to stay in Europe for a trip in excess of 90 days. But the European Commission considers trips of 90+ days require a full long-term immigration visa – with all the associated costs.

Forbidden fruit

You won’t be able to take any meat, milk, or products containing these items into the EU. There are exceptions for powdered baby milk, baby food, or pet food required for medical reasons.

Tax and duty-free allowances have changed. Check the Government’s website for more details.

Take out travel insurance with adequate healthcare insurance

We always advise travellers to take out comprehensive travel insurance with sufficient healthcare cover, including cover for existing medical conditions and any activities you plan to do.  

Our advice is to choose the right travel insurance – rather than the cheapest – that covers your personal circumstances and includes:

  • At least £1m of medical cover that includes emergency medical treatment, repatriation, accommodation and travel expenses for a friend or family member to stay with you, and the cost of someone travelling to be with you. Most policies offer medical cover in excess of £10m, but you should check what this would actually pay for. 
  • Sufficient lost and stolen luggage protection that suits your needs. It usually comes with a voluntary excess. Make sure the policy covers your belongings while they are out of sight (for example, when in the care of your travel operator). Also, take a photograph of your suitcase contents. Claims often require a list of what is missing and the cost of (and receipts for) each item.
  • Cancellation cover. It is important to book holiday insurance as soon as you book your holiday. You can never predict when you might need to cancel. Some insurances exclude Brexit-related activity.
  • Be aware of your travel exclusions, including the consequences of drinking too much, extreme sports, or not disclosing a pre-existing medical condition.

European Health Insurance Card

Far too many travellers have found themselves with huge medical bills after they wrongly assumed their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC – now GHIC) would provide NHS-style medical treatment and care. It doesn’t. 

Similarly, many travellers mistakenly believed the EHIC would repatriate them if they were ill or injured. It doesn’t, as the tragic number of crowdfunding campaigns illustrates.  

A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), will be valid up to its expiry date. If you need a new card, you will receive the new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). More details are available from the NHS website.

Make sure you have all the documents you need to drive in Europe

UK car stickers – you will need a UK sticker for your own car when driving in the EU.

You can use your UK Blue Badge when travelling in some EU countries, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Parking concessions vary in each country, so you must check the details for your destination. More information can be found here. Using a Blue Badge in the European Union – GOV.UK (

Driving permits – if you have a paper licence or your driving licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you may need an international driving permit (IDP). These are available from the Post Office. If you have a card driving license, you do not require an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.

Get the necessary vaccines and certificates to take your pet abroad

Your pet passport is no longer valid to travel to the EU or Northern Ireland. You now need an Animal Health Certificate. Your pet will also need to be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies. Dogs will need tapeworm treatment for travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta.

If you are planning to take your pet abroad, you should speak to your vet at least one month in advance to make sure you have these in place before you are due to travel.

Full details can be found at gov.UK.

 Check your mobile phone company’s policy on data roaming

Rules around mobile data roaming have changed, meaning you may face charges when using your phone abroad, including making calls, sending messages or using the internet. Check with your mobile phone provider about their data roaming policy.

Extra requirements for business travel 

If you’re travelling with goods to the EU, you’ll need to ensure you’ve got the right documentation to take them with you. If you intend to sell the goods abroad, you will need to make a customs declaration.

You will also need to make a declaration if you take £10,000 or more in cash or valuables with you.

Other extra requirements to check are whether your professional qualifications will be recognised in the EU, what to do if you’re earning money in the EU and providing indemnity insurance for employees. For further information, visit here

Jane Hewin

Jane Hewin

Published on 03/10/19

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