UK Citizens visiting Europe from 1st Jan 2021 – Changes you need to know about


UK Citizens visiting Europe from 1st Jan 2021 – Changes you need to know about

Travelling around Europe (inc, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein) will change from 1st January 2021, as the transition period for the UK leaving the EU comes to an end.

The rules are changing all the time and we’ll do our best to keep this article updated. However, you must always check with the relevant authorities, travel companies, insurers etc for the latest information before you travel.

Which countries are EU countries?

Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland*, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden plus Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein.

Checklist of things that will change for UK citizen passport holders from 1st January 2021:

  • Passport rules (must have at least 6 months validity and be less than 10 years old) – check yours in case you need to renew it 
  • You must use Non-EU/EEA lanes at border control points and may be asked to show return or onward tickets and/or prove you have sufficient money for your trip
  • EHIC no longer valid from 1/1/21 – you’ll need to arrange for travel insurance for healthcare, which does not always cover pre-existing conditions, so be sure to check any policy carefully and follow this advice
  • Extra documents needed to drive in Europe (International Driving Permit) check what extra paperwork you’ll need e.g.  IDP /green card, proof of insurance, GB sticker, V5 log book etc – check the AA website for latest information
  • European Pet Passport will no longer be valid so you’ll need to arrange for extra health checks and vaccinations AT LEAST 4 MONTHS before you plan to travel, details here. There are additional rules in place for bringing pets into the EU called “Travellers Points of Entry” which control the entry and exit points for non-EU pets. 
  • Delays or disruption due to increased border controls – however you plan to travel, be sure to  check for the latest information before you leave
  • Check any travel insurance policy to make sure you are covered if your travel is cancelled or delayed, and whether or not you can claim compensation or a refund. You are still protected by the Package Travel Regulations if you buy a package holiday and the company goes out of business, as long as the company targets UK customers. You can also request  compensation if you used your credit card (payments between £100 – £30,000)
  • Visa-free travel only valid for short trips (90 days max in any 180-day period). If you plan to stay longer, you will need a visa or permit, including for work or study. Check out this article for details about how the Schengen travel rules will apply to UK passport holders from 1/1/21.
  • Free Mobile phone roaming will end, unless your phone operator decides not to increase their charges – check with your operator before travelling

There will be important changes for business travellers too. The UK Government has a dedicated website here for further information.

* Ireland is part of the Common Travel Area and so will have slightly different rules, check them here.

The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last reviewed 15.08.2022

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