Brexit is a subject that’s dominated the news recently, and rightly so. In less than six months, Britain will withdraw from the European Union (EU) for good – and if a negotiated settlement can’t be reached, we’ll find ourselves in a ‘no-deal’ Brexit scenario.
Prime Minister Theresa May has said that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, though as the government website states: “negotiations are progressing well and both we and the EU continue to work hard to seek a positive deal.”
As the clock ticks down to January 2020, many people are wondering how a no-deal Brexit could impact their travel plans for next year, particularly when visiting countries within the EU. Here are some snippets of useful advice shared on the government’s website:
Visiting countries in the Schengen region
The majority of EU countries (though not the UK) are members of the Schengen Agreement. This removes border controls and passport checks at borders between member countries, essentially allowing people to travel around as if it were one country.
Currently, British citizens are allowed to enter the Schengen region with a valid passport, regardless of how long the passport is valid for.
Yet, if no deal is reached by January 2020, British passport holders will be considered a third country national under the Schengen Border Code – meaning, they will need to meet certain criteria in order to enter and travel around member countries. The Schengen Border Code states that third country passports must:
- have been issued within the past 10 years on the date of arrival in a Schengen country
- have at least three months’ validity remaining on the passport from the intended departure date
So, if you plan to travel to a Schengen country after 31st January 2020, you should make sure your passport is no older than nine years and six months on the day of travel. If it is, you’ll risk being denied entry to the countries. If you need to renew your passport, the easiest way to do this is online – do this as soon as possible to avoid delays, as the service can get busy during spring.
Passports with over 10 years validity
If you applied for a new passport before your previous one expired, the remaining months may have been added to your new passport, up to a maximum of ten years and nine months. This means that you can’t use your passport’s expiry date to check if it will be valid under the new rules.
Passports issued from 31st January 2020 onwards
The design of new British passports will change which will happen in two stages.
Passports printed between 30 March 2019 and the introduction of the new design will be burgundy but will not have ‘European Union’ written on the front. Then, blue passports will start being issued from late 2019. This, therefore, means that if you renew your passport between late 2019 and early 2020, you’ll be automatically issued with a blue or burgundy passport.
Deal or no deal, Britain will be leaving the EU next year, so making sure your passport is fit for travel now will help to ensure stress-free holidays in 2019. Don’t forget to take out quality travel insurance either – Medical Travel Compared can arrange cover even if you have some pre-existing medical conditions.