There has been so much Brexit-related news lately, it may feel a little overwhelming. Don’t let it stop you from travelling and enjoying yourself though; with a little preparation you shouldn’t have anything to worry about – that’s the message from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
At this stage, a delayed exit date is possible, but to ensure you have all the necessary documentation it’s probably a good idea to prepare for changes from 29 March.
The FCO has provided some “official” notes to industry partners explaining what can and can’t happen, and highlighting the issues travellers need to be aware of. We’ve reiterated the most important points below and explained what you should check on your travel insurance policy.
The FCO will update details on their website if anything changes and we’ll be updating our blog regularly too, so please check all the relevant information before you book and before you travel. You can also sign up for email alerts or follow the FCO on Facebook or Twitter.
The most important message, in our opinion, is that travel will still be entirely possible after exiting the EU – with or without a deal – but some rules could change and we need to be informed and prepared to avoid problems or delays.
There are a few simple things you can do to prepare, says the FCO:
Buy travel insurance when you book your holiday – make sure you have the right cover, including for healthcare.
Check your passport is valid for travel using the gov.uk Passport Checker.
If you’re going to drive in Europe, the rules have changed and you need to check you’ve got the right documents.
The gov.uk website explains:
“Insurance for trips to the EU, Norway, Liechtenstein or Iceland after the UK leaves the EU:
“If you are taking out travel insurance shortly after the UK leaves the EU, you should make sure you understand the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy. Also make sure that the policy is sufficient to cover possible disruption.
“If you already have travel insurance, your insurer should let you know if there are changes that will affect you after the UK leaves the EU. If you have questions about what your travel insurance policy covers, or whether it covers possible disruption, you may wish to contact your insurer.”
European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) may not be valid after the UK leaves the EU, so comprehensive travel insurance is more important than ever.
What do you need to do?
“Make sure that any insurance product you buy has the necessary healthcare coverage to ensure you can get any treatment you might need.”
- That means disclosing ALL pre-existing medical conditions and medication, as well as any new symptoms that are being checked or haven’t been diagnosed yet.
- Check that your policy covers all areas for your travel route and destination.
- It must include cover for all activities you plan to participate in – many will be included in a standard policy, but others such as winter sports or hot air balloon rides require extra cover.
- If you have an existing policy, you need to update this information and ensure it is 100% accurate, or your policy may be invalid.
Why do we need cover for “possible disruption”?
Eurostar passengers have already experienced delays of a few hours due to protests by customs officials in France.
A no-deal exit from the EU would mean UK passport holders have to go through additional passport checks (which in itself would mean it takes longer to go through passport control at stations, ports and airports) and French customs officials have been protesting the extra pressure this would put on them, creating extended delays.
When any regulations or processes change, there’s likely to be some disruption or delay while things “settle” and with or without a deal, Brexit will mean a lot of changes.
Check that your policy covers:
- Cancelled flights/trains/other booked transport
- Missed connections
- Are these covered if the delay/disruption is caused by something related to Brexit? This may be excluded or limited, so check all the details.
If you’re travelling after the UK leaves the EU, and in the first few months following the exit, allow a lot more time to go through security, passport control, collect luggage, etc. If you’re connecting to a cruise or an onward flight, make it a few extra hours to be safe.
As we told you previously, you may need to renew your passport sooner than you had planned.
Travelling to Europe will require at least 6 months’ validity from the date you arrive, if we leave the EU without a deal.
You can check your passport here.
It usually takes around three weeks to renew a passport from within the UK, but a lot of people will be rushing to renew soon, so it could take longer. Check now and rather be ready ahead of time!
“From 28 March 2019, drivers from the UK may need a different international driving permit (IDP) to drive abroad.”
“If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, UK drivers may also need an IDP and extra documentation to drive in the EU and EEA.”
Please note, although the FCO has updates its website with possible new exit dates, the date quoted above for IDPs hasn’t changed. The FCO has also issued notifications for countries outside the EU/EEA, so it’s important to check for all destinations.
Once again, this documentation will take longer than usual to obtain if there’s a rush of applications, so sort it out sooner rather than later – rather have an extra document that you don’t need than have a driving holiday ruined because you don’t have the necessary permit.
- Not all countries require the same permit, so check the specific requirements for your route and destination.
- If you already have an IDP, you may need to change or renew it for travel from 28 March onwards. You can check driving document requirements here.
Cards and Mobile Phones
A no-deal Brexit could result in changes to the regulations that govern the way we use our cards and phones when we travel.
This could include higher fees for card transactions and data/roaming, so it’s important to check with your providers before you leave and make alternate arrangements ahead of time to avoid unnecessary costs.
Plants and Pets
No deal would mean regulations for taking plants and animals across borders are likely to change too.
- If you plan to travel with a pet, check requirements with a vet at least 4 months before you travel.
- Transport of horses and ponies would have new regulations too – you’ll need at least 6 weeks to prepare.
- Protected plants and animals would have to have a permit, and would only be allowed to travel through designated ports.
Last updated: 25 March 2018
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