If you ever manage to travel to the EU again, here are some things you need to know.
Now that Brexit has happened, changes will take a while to get used to. Not only will travelling to countries remaining in the EU be effected, so will travel to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
While these changes came into effect on 1st January 2020, it doesn’t mean that they will remain as they are as of today forever. One thing seems to be certain and that is rules and regulations change and what is the case now may evolve into something else some time down the line. The only sensible thing to do is check what the rules are every time that you plan a trip abroad. The Government website covering these things is probably your first port of call. Not knowing the rules is no defence and getting it wrong will be expensive.
Here are some of the main changes concerning travelling to the EU
Your Passport must be valid for at least six months from the start of your trip
Your Passport must be less than 10 years old, even if it has 6 months or more left
Rules are slightly different if you are travelling to Ireland where an agreement exists that does not require Passports to be carried. However, it is likely that travellers will be asked for some form of ID which will more often than not provided by the showing of a passport.
If you still have a European Health Insurance Card, it will be valid until the expiry date shown on the card. It is not valid anymore in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechenstein regardless of the expiry date.
Certain people will still be able to apply for an EHIC details of which can be found here.
The whole subject of health treatment is still being discussed and the UK government have signalled the introduction of the GHIC, the Global Health Insurance Card. The details of how the GHIC will work are not yet available.
Both the EHIC and GHIC are free to get from the government website by completing a simple form. There are also many websites that have been set up with the objective of providing these cards. These third party sites almost exclusively exist in order to charge you money or farm your personal details. These cards are free to obtain from the government website and you should avoid paying third parties for the service at all costs.
You are strongly advised to get appropriate Travel Insurance when travelling to the EU. It is not a legal requirement but the cost of getting treatment can be very expensive while abroad and the cost of bringing you home in the event of a serious accident can run into tens of thousands of pounds.
When applying for Travel Insurance you must disclose all of your medical history. Not doing so, even accidentally, can invalidate your whole policy. Witholding information deliberately, presumerably just to get cover or to save money, is fraud and as well as invalidating the policy you run the risk of getting prosecuted.
WHAT WILL NOW HAPPEN AT THE BORDER
You will be asked to provide details of your return journey or details of where you will be travelling on to.
You will be asked to prove that you have sufficient money for the length of your stay
You will no longer be using the EU lane at passport control.
THE 90 DAY RULE
If you are planning to stay in an EU country for more than 90 days in any 180 day period as a tourist, you will need a visa. There are a few countries for which this does not apply. These are Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania and if you do visit these countries, the time you spend there will not count toward the 90 day limit.
If you are travelling to study, work, or plan to stay longer than the 90 days then you a likely to require a visa. You will need to check with each country regarding this as each will have it’s own rules.
You will not be allowed to take meat or dairy products into the EU as from 1st January 2020. With the exception of small amounts of infant or pet food. It is quite possible that the ham sandwich you have packed for your journey will be confiscated and thrown away.
The government have run a wide advertising campaign to inform motorists of the changes
UK driving licences are recognised throughout the EU so you can drive without the need for additional paperwork
You may need to change the sticker on your number plate if it has a EU emblem to one that has the UK flag
The existing Pet Passport Scheme will cease as of 1st January 2021. You will need an Animal Health Certificate instead and the advice is to allow at least a month before travelling to arrange one.
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Every care has been taken to ensure the information given is correct as of the date of publication, in this case the 4th January 2021. Always double check with your own insurers or the UK Government website to ensure you have the most up to date and accurate information before making any travel or financial decisions.