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How will Brexit affect your holiday?

  • Published 14 March 2019

29th March. Perhaps the most anticipated day of the last decade. While politicians debate and argue about agreements, terms and deals, avid travellers are left wondering whether all the commotion will affect travel within the EU. The answer? No-one really knows. There’s a handful of things that travel experts are certain of, and one of those is… uncertainty. Waiting to book your dream holiday until after Brexit or rushing to exchange your currency now may seem like tempting options but there’s no proof that anything will drastically change – not immediately, at least. The indefinite prospects are worrying both customers and travel agencies alike, so we’re here to break down the main concerns from healthcare to driving licenses. And trust us, there’s really no need to panic.

Passport validity

The most irreplaceable part of the travel experience – the passport – is set to change after we leave the EU. That burgundy colour will turn into a navy blue, and with that will come a slight change of rules. Currently you can travel to any EU country as long as you have a passport that is still valid on the day you return. However, if we leave without a deal, that could change. In this case most EU countries, including Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and Germany, will require you to have at least six months left on your passport and you won’t be able to have a passport that's older than nine years and six months. 

If we leave with a deal, then it's likely the current rules will remain at least until December 2020, which is the end of the transitional period.  It’s worth checking your expiry date now- if you’ve got less than six months left on your passport you should renew now, especially as the prospect of a deal is getting further and further away. Passport renewal can take up to three weeks so always plan ahead. An online adult passport renewal costs £75.50, and you should only do it via gov.uk.
 


This is where the main worries begin, right? People putting off their getaway to Rome or their Greek island-hopping adventure because of the fearful thought of a visa. Well, let’s get this straight once and for all. Whether the UK gets a deal or not, you will need to apply for an electronic visa waiver to travel to any EU country… but only by the end of the transitional period in December 2020. You can still travel visa-free for the next 20 months! When it gets to that dreaded time, the document you’ll need will be called an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), costing a mere £6.30, and lasting for three years – quite similar to how an American ESTA works. The transitional period will also hold off mobile roaming charges until 2021, although 85 percent of the networks say they have no plans to introduce extra fees anyway.

Visas

This is where the main worries begin, right? People putting off their getaway to Rome or their Greek island-hopping adventure because of the fearful thought of a visa. Well, let’s get this straight once and for all. Whether the UK gets a deal or not, you will need to apply for an electronic visa waiver to travel to any EU country… but only by the end of the transitional period in December 2020. You can still travel visa-free for the next 20 months! When it gets to that dreaded time, the document you’ll need will be called an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), costing a mere £6.30, and lasting for three years – quite similar to how an American ESTA works. The transitional period will also hold off mobile roaming charges until 2021, although 85 percent of the networks say they have no plans to introduce extra fees anyway.

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Currency

Another big Brexit myth is that the pound will combust when we wake up on the 29th March and that you must change up currency for the whole town and its mother to avoid getting a horrific rate. The truth is absolutely no one can predict what the pound is going to do. Currency rates fluctuate by the minute and the only thing that we can be sure of is high volatility. In theory, markets don't like the prospect of a 'no-deal' Brexit, so any kind of political change that increases the likelihood of a no deal could weaken the pound, while the opposite could strengthen it. 

But this doesn’t help us after Brexit happens. If you're a nervous person, already thinking about rushing off to the exchange counter ask yourself: "Would I accept today's rate?" If the answer is yes, and your real fear is rates worsening, you could always buy now and try your best to avoid checking the rates up until your holiday. Here’s one for the Vegas lovers out there: if you worry that a big swing could go in your favour when Brexit happens – because there’s as much chance that it could – then play the odds and buy half now, half later when you see a rate you like. Just beware the probability of exchange rates being predictable is about as high as the chance of parliament pushing through a seamless Brexit. 
 


Despite many people rehoming their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) in their sock drawer, this often-forgotten card could be a literal lifeline when travelling in the EU, entitling you to the same medical treatment that locals are allowed, for free. While its fate is unknown if we do get a deal, EHIC will disappear if we leave without one. However, like most other parts to this unpredictable puzzle, you should still be able to use them until the end of the transitional period after an agreement concerning health cover was reached. There is a chance that this could change as negotiations between the UK and the EU continue, but it’s worth renewing now to enjoy all the rights and protections that it can give you, if you have less than six months remaining on it.

EHIC

Despite many people rehoming their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) in their sock drawer, this often-forgotten card could be a literal lifeline when travelling in the EU, entitling you to the same medical treatment that locals are allowed, for free. While its fate is unknown if we do get a deal, EHIC will disappear if we leave without one. However, like most other parts to this unpredictable puzzle, you should still be able to use them until the end of the transitional period after an agreement concerning health cover was reached. There is a chance that this could change as negotiations between the UK and the EU continue, but it’s worth renewing now to enjoy all the rights and protections that it can give you, if you have less than six months remaining on it.

Insurance

The necessity for travel insurance won’t change. Disruption to your flights, lost baggage, emergency medical expenses not covered by your EHIC are all still as probable, whether we’re in the EU or not. But if/when EHIC’s cease to be valid, insurer’s prices could rise, with the prospect of them having to pay out for the entire healthcare you need. When it comes to flights, it's impossible to say for sure whether there'll be disruption after 29th March. Although the government's official guidance says flights should continue as normal even if there's no deal, the airline trade body International Air Transport Association has warned some may be cancelled.

If this happens, you won't be entitled to the EU flight delay compensation as you are now, as it's unlikely to be the airline's fault – although you're still entitled to a full refund or an alternative flight. It’s best to speak to your insurer to check if you’d be covered, or if you can upgrade to a ‘cancellation any cause’ policy which would give you more cover and leeway when it comes to disruptions and cancellations. If you’re travelling within the next six months, our advice would be to get in contact with whatever insurance you choose to ask what they can offer you. 


If you’re thinking about driving down the stunning Adriatic Coast or whisking the kids through the Eurotunnel to Disneyland Paris for a weekend you may have to do a little more preparing than normal after Brexit. Currently, if you have a UK driving licence you can drive in the EU without any extra documents, and if we get a deal it’s very likely that will stay the same. However, if there’s no deal your licence may not be valid by itself and you might need to get your hands on an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well. It will hardly break the bank though- it only costs £5.50 and lasts one year. There are two types of permits and which one you need depends on the country you're travelling to, so check before you get it… which must be prior to travelling, so give yourself plenty of time to get one. We advise you to keep checking the government pages for updates, as the terms for driving permits could change depending on negotiation outcomes.

Permits to drive

If you’re thinking about driving down the stunning Adriatic Coast or whisking the kids through the Eurotunnel to Disneyland Paris for a weekend you may have to do a little more preparing than normal after Brexit. Currently, if you have a UK driving licence you can drive in the EU without any extra documents, and if we get a deal it’s very likely that will stay the same. However, if there’s no deal your licence may not be valid by itself and you might need to get your hands on an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well. It will hardly break the bank though- it only costs £5.50 and lasts one year. There are two types of permits and which one you need depends on the country you're travelling to, so check before you get it… which must be prior to travelling, so give yourself plenty of time to get one. We advise you to keep checking the government pages for updates, as the terms for driving permits could change depending on negotiation outcomes.

Tagged: Europe
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