What do we know so far?
One thing we do know so far is that things are going to change on 01 January 2021 when the United Kingdom officially leaves the European Union, well at 23h00 GMT on 31 December 2020 to be exact! Where Ireland is concerned, it is envisaged that things will stay much the same, for continental Europe it is a very different picture: YOUR PASSPORT Your current, burgundy British passport with "European Union" on the front will remain valid for some time to come but there are a couple of items that you will need to check. As the United Kingdom will now be classified as a "third" country, your passport must have been issued within 9 years and 6 months on your date of travel. In addition, you must have at least 6 months validity remaining on your passport.
AT THE BORDER British Nationals will no longer have access to the EU fast track entry queues at ports of entry across Europe. This may lead to delays in processing of passengers so expect Immigration formalities to take longer. Some countries popular with Brits are rumoured to be considering introducing special "fast track" lanes for British Nationals although nothing is confirmed at time of writing.
HOW LONG CAN YOU STAY?
This is another major change for British nationals. From 01 January 2021, the EU willa pply the 90/180 rule to British nationals. What this essentially means is that you can essentially only remain for a maximum of 90 days within any 180 day period in a Schengen country. Example, if you spend Jan, Feb & Mar in the Schengen area, you must leave the zone before 01 April and cannot return until 30 June.
Different rules may apply in countries that are not part of the Schengen area, namely Cyprus, Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania. If you already have a work or residential visa for a specific EU country then different rules will apply. If you overstay, there is generally a 3 day grace period and you may run the risk of a one year entry ban across the Schengen area. WILL I NEED A VISA?
Not currently, although the EU are looking at introducing a European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) which is similar in concept to the US ESTA programme. CUSTOMS WHEN RETURNING TO THE UK Restrictions on the importation of goods into the UK from the EU will come into effect on 01 Jan 2021. Limits on bringing in items such as alcohol and cigarettes will be reintroduced. HEALTH CARE British nationals have always enjoyed free or low-cost medical care in the EU. Currently, your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid from 01 January 2021 and you must be in possession of suitable travel insurance and a rise in the cost of premiums is forecast. If you are in a European country prior to 31 December 2020, your EHIC card will remain valid for the duration of your stay until your departure. YOUR DRIVING LICENCE Your UK licence with is EU symbol will remain valid until its expiration, however, you may require an International Driving Permit to drive in the EU from 01 January 2021. These can generally be purchased from your local post office at an additional charge and a passport photo is required. YOUR CAR INSURANCE
Currently your car insurance covers you for travel throughout the EU. From 01 January 2021 you will need a Green Card, an official, multilingual translation of your car insurance confirming that you have met the minimum coverage requirements for the country that you are visiting. Bear in mind that this will have to be obtained from your insurance company and could take up to 2 weeks! FERRIES & EUROTUNNEL Drivers can expect additional travel times and delays of up to 2 hours for processing upon arrival in the United Kingdom. MOBILE PHONES Currently most mobile phone providers offer the same rates while roaming as you would pay at home. This ends on 31 December 2020. Your service provider will be free to impose whatever charges they wish. Many providers are currently not planning on changing fee structures but this could change.
Thousands of pets travel each year from the UK to the EU and back. A pet travel scheme has currently not been agreed causing concern for many pet owners, particularly those with second homes in Europe. It is hoped that the UK will become a Part 1 listed country under the Pet Travel Scheme with pet travel much the same as it is now. If the issue is not finalized, the UK runs the risk of becoming an unlisted country which will require blood samples, rabies tests and potential delays of up to 3 months prior to transportation as well as possible quarantine restrictions. Currently the UK has no plans to change any conditions for pets entering the United Kingdom.
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