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As the Brexit trade deal was announced on Christmas Eve (and to be put through the UK Parliament on Wednesday), we now have more clarity on how travel will change after the transition period ends at the end of the month.

There are of course some ‘unclear’ explanations and some details like visas and the health insurance card which are yet to be confirmed – or haven’t had time to be included just yet. It does mean though we can essentially holiday in Europe, with some slight changes.

Passports – Our current burgundy European Union passports will remain to be valid, although will lose the EU status. It is very important to note that the EU has said that these passports are only valid for 10 years from the valid from date – so although technically the passport says it’s valid beyond that date, it would be suggested to renew your passport before then.

You will also need three months left on your passport from the date you intend to return, to travel to the EU, similar to other international destinations which require up to 6 months.

So, two things to check – what is the date 10 years from the issue date, and do I have 6 months remaining.

On Arrival – UK passport holders won’t be able to use the ‘EU’ line abroad (although specific countries where there are a lot of British travelers may assign differently – like Spain and Portugal). There may also be additional checks – finding out if you have enough funds for your stay and checking your passport more carefully.

You’re also only allowed to say in the EU Schengen area a maximum of 90 days in a 180 day period, which is pooled between leisure and business travel. So if you travel to Europe a lot for business, that time is taken out of the whole allocation, leaving you less time for a holiday. Countries outside of the Schengen area but part of the EU will have their own regulation.

Although not coming in until at least 2022, UK passport holders will need to apply for an electronic visa – ETAIS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), which will cost around £6 and last for three years. This is very similar to the US or Canadian ESTA/ETA schemes, and other countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka.

There will be new limits on items we can bring back to the UK, essentially the former unrestricted limit when returning from Europe will be replaced by the same rules and regulations we have when returning from destinations outside the EU.

Over the last number of years, we have become accustomed to the E111, which later became the EHIC card, which allows free or very low-cost healthcare abroad. This will be replaced by a new international version, and existing EHIC cards will remain valid in the interim.


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