It has been a long time since many of us have been able to explore beyond our borders, and indeed for the majority, we won’t have needed to check the post-Brexit requirement due to lockdown – so whilst we may all have forgotten how to travel as it has been so long, the goalposts have also moved…
There are some fundamental changes which you’ll need to plan for in advance, and also be expected to accommodate during your travel – so here’s an overview to help guide you through the new world of travel from the UK to the EU so you won’t be caught short on your next escape…as others have been.
1. Check Your Passport:
Previously, so long as your passport date was valid for your outbound and return journeys, you had free reign to travel across the EU – things have however, changed.
You will now need to ensure that each passenger has at least 6 months on their passport to permit entry into the EU – PLEASE NOTE: Since leaving the EU the "effective expiry date" of your passport is not that which is printed, but rather it is 10 years since the date of issue. This is because EU passports allowed remaining months from a previous passport to be 'carried over' - these additional months shown are now redundant! You can check your EU travel validity very easily here - https://www.gov.uk/check-a-passport-travel-europe
If you do need to renew your passport (or that of someone else). please don’t leave this to the last minute to fix as there will likely be lots of people trying to do the same and you might be caught short. It is also worth noting (for those that like to live on the edge) that the urgent passport system does not apply for children and you will need to plan at least 10 weeks in advance.
Here are the 3 ways to get your updated passport if yours is due to expire:
- Non-urgent passport service (allow up to 10 weeks): https://www.gov.uk/apply-renew-passport
- Urgent passport (no less than 48 hours before travel – adults only): Via your nearest passport office or through the online portal
2. Driving to Europe? Get your documents in order…
Put a sticker on it – To travel in Europe you will be required to clearly display a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle. These are readily available at motorway service stations and online.
Green card insurance – Whilst your insurance cover may have previously included European travel as standard, this is now a separate element and requires separate attention. To roll off the ferry or train onto European soil, you will need to speak to your insurer in advance to obtain a Green Card. There can be a small charge for this “certificate” and you should allow at least 4 weeks to arrange this.
Driving Permit – Whilst there are fewer paper licences in circulation with the passing of each year, if you are one of the few still using a paper license, or have a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man you may need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries. 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, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
3. Travel Insurance - So long EHIC…
We would always advise client to take out dedicated insurance to cover their ski escape, with sufficient healthcare cover, including cover for existing medical conditions and any activities you plan to do.
That being said, the familiar EHIC card was a useful back-up for a number of situations. Unfortunately, as of 1st January 2021 these are now being phased out however, it is worth noting that they will remain valid until the date on the card, at which point they will become obsolete - you can apply for a new card up to 6 months before your current card expires.
If you apply for a card now, you'll get a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) instead of an EHIC.
The NHS has provided an information resource and guidance on applying for the GHIC card. You can find out more here
4. Don’t get stung on data!
Just as we had agreed to flat-rate data and call charges across Europe, we severed our ties. Since leaving the EU, many UK mobile phone operators have once again begun charging a premium on both data and calls whilst abroad (much like those you would experience when travelling further afield to destinations such as the USA).
Before you travel, check with your provider to see what their rules are – it is also worth enquiring about special rate packages or “bolt-ons” to reduce the costs of foreign roaming if you are travelling regularly, working abroad or away for extended periods of time.
5. Travelling to the EU with pets?
Your existing pet passport is no longer sufficient to allow your pet to travel with you into the EU. You will now need to obtain an Animal Health Certificate. If you happen to be travelling to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta, you will also need to have your pet microchipped, vaccinated for rabies and dogs will need to be pre-treated for tapeworm…
Speak to your vet about the regulations for your destination, or head here for the government guidance
6. Know your quarantine, isolation and vaccination rules
Whilst restrictions remain in place with regards to travel between countries and regions, PLEASE check the restrictions and processes in-place for your destination based on your departure location. Criteria do vary for countries beyond our own green and amber lists, including the age at which someone is no longer considered a "child" and must thus be vaccinated travel. Other destinations have isolation rules for children whereby a test procedure has to be followed and a negative test result be confirmed.
Check before you travel so that you can arrange appropriate testing and time for results ahead of departure. There are a mnumber of private organisations whom can assist with test access and guidance for foreign testing, alongside the governemnt website detailing our own traffic light system.
BONUS: Get in line…
That’s right, you’re standing in the wrong queue! We all know Brits love to queue, but we also know the rules and etiquette of queuing, so don’t be the amateur. At the airport, remember that you will now need to stand in the non-EU queue for passport control or risk being put to the back again…and no one wants that!
Top tips for luxurious trouble-free travel - lounging about...
As the world opens up again, travel is going to be high on the agenda for so many people, which means things could get very busy, very quickly. When this happens, we hope that Heathrow and Gatwick will be able to reinstate their fast-track services for check-in (which have been closed during the Covid pandemic), allowing clients to by-pass the long queues at security and be able to spend more time airside.
Of course, this also raises the question of whether to get lounge access for your trip. The reality is that you will have to be at the airport well ahead of time for EU travel, much like that which was previously the case for non-EU travel, so you are likely to have more time in the airport ahead of departure, and with the removal of tax-free shopping, retail therapy is somewhat less appealing. For this reason, we believe that lounge access is something definitely worth considering at your departure and return airports, giving you comfort and access to facilities so you can start your holiday before the wheels have even left the tarmac.