What will happen to the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)?
The EHIC covers pre-existing medical conditions, general maternity care and is there in case of an emergency. It’s a great safety blanket for those who are travelling with any pre-existing medical conditions, to know they will be given the same treatment they would receive if they were at home.
But of course, Britain has left the EU as of the 31st December 2020. Whilst the EHIC was valid during the transition period, what will happen on the 1st January 2021?
Well, after 2020 the government have said that your EHIC card will be valid up until it's date of expiry (which is printed on your card), as long as it was bought or renewed before the end of 2020.
The exceptions are those who are UK state pensioners living in Europe before the end of 2020 and UK students who started a course in the EU before the end of 2020 too. It’s also still valid for ‘frontier workers’, or in other words people who work in one state and live in another. The government advises that after the 31st December deadline that you should buy travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go on holiday and that you should ensure you get the right travel insurance for any pre-existing medical conditions you may have.
Will my passport still work?
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has advised that if you’re from the UK, after the 31st January 2020 you will still be able to travel freely into Europe with your current passport if it is 6 months in date. This is similar to many other countries outside of the EU.
Now you will only be able to travel without a visa to Schengen area countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
The government advises that you do not book travel unless your passport meets the entry requirements of the country you’re travelling to, and you can use this government tool to check if your passport needs updating. If you do need a new passport they will be blue rather than dark red.
As always, it is advisable that you apply for a new passport in plenty of time before travel. This usually take up to 3 weeks but may be longer in busy periods. You can apply for a passport here.
Will free mobile roaming end?
The 4 main mobile operators (EE, O2, Three and Vodaphone) have said they’ve no plans to start data roaming charges again, but this does depend on the UK’s ongoing relationship with the EU. But it's best to get in contact with your mobile network provider before you travel, just to check.
If the data roaming charges have to be reintroduced, then a £45 limiting cap will also be implemented. This is to make sure that you don’t over-spend whilst on holiday. You will also receive notifications when you reach 80% and 100% of this cap. There will also be the option to go over this cap if you want to.
Taking your pets to Europe
Until the 31st December 2020 all dogs and cats could be taken to the EU with a valid pet passport. These passports will become invalid after the 31st December.
Instead, your pet cat, dog (including assistance dogs) and ferret will need an animal health certificate (AHC).
To get an AHC, your pet needs to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. The certificate will need to be signed by a qualified vet 10 days before you travel.
Will I need a visa to get into Europe?
Not straight away. The European Commission has confirmed that while UK travellers will not need a visa, they will need to apply for and buy an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System).
You will need to apply for a visa if you are planning on staying in the EU for more than 90 days in a 180 day period.
Will I be covered if my holiday is cancelled because of Brexit?
It’s unlikely that your holiday will be cancelled due to Brexit and there is nothing to suggest that you will not be able to continue with your holiday plans now the UK has left the EU. The European Commission and the UK Government have said flights to and from the UK will still be able to operate.
As Brexit is considered a circumstance beyond the control of travel companies, compensation is unlikely in the event of cancellation, so it is important to check the terms of your booking with your travel agent or operator. You may also be afforded more protection if you paid for your trip by credit card, please check with your credit card provider.
Will I be covered if flights are disrupted, or grounded due to Brexit?
It’s unlikely that this will happen, and if it does your airline will have a duty of care to get you to your destination.
The European Commission introduced regulation on Air Passenger Rights, and these rights are set to remain post-Brexit. This regulation has rules for passengers to claim compensation in the event of delays, cancellations or denied boarding. So you will have the same rights after Brexit as you do now when it comes to flight delays compensation rules.
Unfortunately, the regulation does not extend to cover ‘extraordinary circumstances’, or rather anything outside of the airline's control. Under the regulation, this would mean that passengers would be unable to claim compensation as a result of Brexit.
Will I be covered if I miss my flight due to Brexit delays?
Leaving the EU with a no-deal Brexit may put additional pressures on passport control in the UK and many EU countries, which could lead to queues when trying to depart for your outbound and inbound flight.
Whilst many policies can provide cover for missed flights, it’s very unlikely that they will cover you for delays at the airport. We would recommend allowing yourself additional time to arrive at the airport in case there are delays.
Will cruises or ferries be affected by Brexit?
You’ll be pleased to know that cruises and ferries should generally remain unaffected by Brexit as they are operated under maritime laws, rather than European. It’s expected that the pricing for cruises could rise due to the impact Brexit will have on the pound.
However, many cruising companies will take sterling as a currency on board, so your spending on the ship won’t be affected should exchange rates change.
Should your cruise include flights the European Commission will still permit UK airlines to fly between the UK and Europe, even in a no-deal setting.
The government recommends that you make sure to take out appropriate travel insurance before you depart on your trip and that you check online for the latest travel information on your destinations and your cruise operator.
Will I still be covered whilst I am driving in Europe?
It is probable that after the transition period you will need an International Driving permit in addition to your current UK drivers license. But don’t worry, these are easy to find and usually cheap too. If you’re taking your own vehicle then you may need a green card, or proof of insurance and a GB sticker for your car.
It’s worth having a look at the government website below for more details, as different permits may be needed for different countries. So, if you’re planning a road trip to Berlin, you may need separate permits for France, Belgium and Germany for example.
Check out the government's website for all the information: Driving in the EU after Brexit: international driving permits
Will I still need to take out travel insurance post-Brexit?
We (and the government) strongly recommend a comprehensive travel insurance policy should be arranged for any planned trips, even more so in light of the changes to the EHIC scheme. Remember that travel disruption is only one part of what your policy will cover you for.
If you are concerned whether a provider will extend cover in respect of Brexit, it is important to check the small print. Some providers may deem Brexit to be outside the control of travel operators.