UK

Brexit: How will it affect my holidays to Europe?

Silhouettes of people at an airport Image copyright Getty Images

While political uncertainty remains over Brexit, life must go on as normal for British families - and that includes making plans for holidays.

And with the promise of new year's flight sales, many will be poised with their bank cards ready to snap up a deal.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March - right before the Easter holidays.

We still don't know how Britain will leave the EU - with a deal, or without.

If the UK leaves with Theresa May's deal, then there will be a transition period until the end of 2020, in which little will actually change.

If not, then there will be more questions about what's happening after Brexit day.

Here are some answers for British nationals keen to have a sunshine break in the EU to look forward to during these dark winter days.

Am I OK to book a holiday in the EU?

You might be wondering if it is safe to book at all, given the dire warnings about what might happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) says that while some things may change after Brexit, whether there is a deal or not, there's no reason to be concerned when booking a holiday.

"There's nothing to suggest holidays won't go ahead as planned next year," a spokeswoman for the organisation, which offers advice to travellers and represents travel agents and tour operators, told BBC News.

"We're heading into the travel industry's sales period, when some of the best deals and discounts are available, so we want people to carry on booking as normal."

She added: "European holiday destinations want to continue to welcome UK holidaymakers; it's a very big market for them."

And as for travelling by plane, the government has said that "flights should continue" as they do today, if there is no deal, adding: "Both the UK and EU want flights to continue without any disruption."

Abta added: "Flights will be able to go and come back again and fly over the EU."

What documents will I need?

"The European Commission has said that even in a no-deal scenario, UK travellers won't need a visa," Abta said.

But British people will need to apply for and buy another document to travel to member states, post-Brexit. The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), which will cost €7 (£6.30) and be valid for three years, won't come into force until 2021 though.

So for the time being, you can carry on without any extra documents.

Under the Brexit deal, EU citizens and UK nationals will continue to be able to travel freely with a passport or identity card until the end of the transition period in 2020.

When that ends, the European Commission has offered visa-free travel for UK nationals coming to the EU for a short stay, as long as the UK offers the same in return.

Image copyright Getty Images

Will there be bigger queues at the airport?

It might be a bit too soon to say "without knowing whether it's a deal or no deal", says Abta.

The government says from 29 March, if there's no deal, most people won't experience any difference to security screening at airports.

The European Commission has proposed measures to avoid there being any extra security or screening of passengers from the UK when they're transferring to onward flights at EU airports.

Do I have to get a new passport?

No deal? If the UK leaves without a deal, then new rules will apply. You'll have to check if your current passport meets those rules and renew it if not.

Basically, British passport holders will be considered third country nationals as part of the Schengen agreement. Other third country nationals are those from places that aren't in the EU or European Economic Area, like the US and Australia.

So according to the Schengen Border Code, passports from these countries have to have been issued within the previous 10 years and be valid for another three months from the date you plan to depart the Schengen area, which makes up 26 European states.

But because you're allowed to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days, the government is advising you make sure your passport is valid for at least another six months after your arrival.

Abta advises people check their passports now to see how long they're valid for.

If there's a deal, your passport will be valid until its date of expiry for anywhere within the EU.

Image copyright Getty Images

What about the European Health Insurance Card - Ehic?

About 27 million people in the UK have Ehics - which entitles the holder to state-provided medical treatment in the EU and other countries which have reciprocal healthcare agreements with Brussels. They cover pre-existing medical conditions and emergency care.

The scheme will continue during the transition period, so long as the withdrawal agreement is ratified.

Image copyright Getty Images

If there is no deal, then in theory the cover provided by an Ehic would cease to exist.

But there could be attempts to put emergency measures in place for UK citizens, or for there to be reciprocal arrangements with individual EU countries. It's unclear at the moment what the outcome might be.

Are there any changes to insurance?

Abta says it's worth making sure what your travel insurance covers and checking the terms and conditions.

For any trips to the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein after 29 March, travellers should make sure their insurance policy covers any possible disruption, the government says. If you already have insurance sorted, then your insurer should let you know if there are any changes that might affect you after the UK leaves the EU.

What will happen with compensation for airline delays?

That's set to be the same as it is now once the UK leaves the EU - so passengers will be entitled to assistance or compensation if there are boarding problems, delays or cancellations.

What about ferries and Eurostar?

Ferries are covered by international maritime convention so there won't be any changes, says Abta.

And it's the same for Eurostar - you'll still be protected by EU regulation on rail passengers' rights, as that's being brought into UK law.

Image copyright Getty Images

Are mobile phone charges changing?

There's currently a system in place so you can travel in the EU and won't be charged extra for roaming - so you can use your mobile for calls, text and data like you would in the UK.

If there's no deal, that wouldn't be guaranteed any more. But the government has said it would put measures in place so that there would be a limit on the cost of mobile data usage abroad. It would be set at £45 per month - it's currently 50 euros under EU law.

What happens if I want to drive abroad - will I need a new licence?

If there's no deal, your licence might not be valid by itself when driving in the EU. It means you might need to get hold of an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well, which costs £5.50. You might also need one of those to hire a vehicle.

Is anything changing with duty free?

Those keen on getting cheaper bottles of perfume or wine at the airport can breathe a sigh of relief.

"People will still be entitled to duty-free allowances," Abta said.

What about my pets?

Any pet passports issued in the UK will not be valid for travel to the EU if there's no deal.

If you want your pet to come with you, whether in a deal or no-deal scenario, you will have to contact your vet at least four months before you plan to travel, so you can get the latest advice.

In short, the rules will change if the UK leaves with no deal. You would have to get your cat, dog or ferret microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before it can travel - it would then need a blood sample to be taken at least 30 days after having the vaccination.

This test is basically to make sure the vaccine has worked. You'd then have to wait another three months before you could travel.

Related Topics

More on this story