With the most recent bout of negotiations with the European Union (EU), the deadline for Brexit has been postponed, and it’s undeniably high time for that European holiday you have wanted to go on for ages!
The extension provides the ideal window of opportunity for those thinking of travelling. They have a little more time to put their plans into action before Brexit occurs.
WHAT IS ‘BREXIT’?
The ‘British Exit’, more commonly referred to as Brexit, is the term used to refer to the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU. This initiative was set into motion after the UK invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty- offering two years to decide on the terms and conditions of the split.
Originally, Brexit was scheduled to transpire on 29 March 2019, but the deadline has been extended to 31 October 2019. According to this article by BBC news, if a Brexit deal happens, there will be a transition period which ends in 2020.
The impact that Brexit will have on travellers from the UK is profound. A lot of the changes will depend on whether a Brexit deal will be struck or a no-deal situation ensues; and if a deal is made, what the terms of the split will be.
CHANGE IN PASSPORTS
All passports issued from 29 March until October will continue to have covers that are the signature burgundy-colour, but may not have the words ‘European Union’ on the front or first page.
There will be no differentiation between those passports that have the gold etched ‘European Union’ and those that do not. Furthermore, it is anticipated that dark blue passports will be reintroduced from October onwards until early 2020.
EASE OF TRAVEL
While the UK was a part of the EU, Britons enjoyed free movement between all EU countries, and until the UK exits the EU, all travel rules and regulations that currently exist will remain in place.
If a Brexit deal takes place, during the transition period, EU and UK nationals can continue to travel with an identity card or passport. After this, the European Commission has proposed visa-free travel for UK nationals travelling for short durations, but only if the UK reciprocates the offer.
If a no-deal situation arises, Britons travelling to any EU country within the Schengen area will be considered as ‘third country’ nationals and shall be treated in the same way as those from the US or Australia. Britons will not need a visa for short trips of up to 90 days in 180 days to the EU, according to the European Commission. To stay for over 90 days, one might need to apply for a visa.
This means, while passports that were issued in the last ten years will remain valid as British Travel Documents, they will no longer have any EU power after Brexit (except for Ireland). You will need a minimum validity of six months (and, in some cases, of up to 15 months) on your passport when planning to travel to European destinations. If it is over ten years old or it expires in a few months, and you do not renew it, you will be ineligible to travel to most EU countries. Moreover, you will need to have further documentation of sufficient funds for your trip, return ticket or onward connections.
Another thing to keep in mind regarding travelling after Brexit is that, upon arrival, Britons will be unable to avail the highly convenient service of speed-check lanes that EU nationals can use. This could cause delays and long queue lines that they are unaccustomed to encountering.
What is more, if visas are needed in the future, travellers from the UK will most probably be required to submit an online visa application through the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS).
In a no-deal scenario, the UK driving licences will not be valid for travellers who wish to drive in the EU. Drivers from the UK will need extra documentation, including an International Driving Permit (IDP), when driving in the EU. They may also need to keep their car insurance policies at hand.
Another area in which British travellers will encounter change is with the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
As of now, EU travellers can avail free health services and medical care by merely displaying their EHIC’s.
However, in a no-deal Brexit scenario, Britons will no longer have access to these services.
Thus it is crucial to check existing health and travel insurance policies whenever one decides to travel. This will allow travellers to be prepared to foot the medical bills for when emergency medical attention is required. It is also advisable to carry a well-stocked first aid kit while you travel. For those on a tight schedule, over-the-counter drugs for common ailments like headaches, allergies and stomach issues can be easily purchased off registered online pharmacies like Click Pharmacy.
Here you can find a link to advise from the NHS about healthcare for Britons in various EU countries.
MORE CONSIDERATIONS FOR TRAVELLERS
As with other ‘third countries’, travellers from the UK may end up being charged extra for using EU mobile networks for phone calls, messages and data.
Britons travelling in the EU may also see a drastic hike in travel prices. Additionally, the exit of the UK from the EU will probably cause a subsequent drop in the number of flights that fly between the two, as well as a rise in airfares.
Brexit will have other repercussions for foreigners and non-UK nationals who want to travel within the EU. London was a major port of entry for travellers, particularly for those from the west. London will now have to be excluded from the easy access or ‘Open Skies’ policy that made travelling in the EU such a convenient experience.
These are just a few of the many significant changes that will come about with Brexit. With these in mind, it is clear that anyone planning on travelling for business or leisure purposes would be better off travelling as soon as possible to avoid getting caught up in the mess of changing policies and uncertainty that will naturally follow in the wake of one of the most significant events the continent has seen in recent times.