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Travel plans: how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit this Friday

Written by: Danielle Levy
As we approach the UK’s extended Brexit deadline this Friday, here are some points to consider if you have immediate plans to travel within the European Union (EU).

The UK’s deadline to leave the EU is fast-approaching – and a deal or another extension is yet to be agreed. If no deal is agreed, rules concerning passports, driving, EHIC cards and pet travel will change.

The government has outlined the following points for travellers to consider:

Passports: check if you need to renew

You may need to renew your British passport earlier than anticipated if you are travelling within the EU after 12 April and no deal is agreed.

On the day of travel, there must be at least six months left on your passport and it will need to be less than 10 years old (even if it has six months or more left).

If you do not renew it, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

If you wish to check if your passport is valid for the country you are visiting, check out the government’s website.

It’s also worth considering that it can take three weeks to renew a passport. The government offers a premium service if you need to fast-track your application.

These rules do not apply to Ireland. Passports will continue to be accepted, as long as they are valid for the length of the stay.

Visas: not required for short trips

If the UK leaves with no deal in place, visas will not be required for short trips, according to European Commission proposals.

Brits will be able to stay in EU countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. However, they may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, or to work or study.

If there is a deal, there will be no changes to how you enter the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland until at least 31 December 2020. It will be possible to continue to travel or work without a visa during this time.

Travellers should look out for updates until there is clarity on the UK’s exit path. Once the situation is confirmed, the government suggests checking each country’s travel advice pages for information on how to get a visa.

Once again, there will no change for those visiting Ireland. Brits can continue to travel and work there in the same way as before.

Border control: changes could lie ahead

If the UK leaves with no deal there could be changes at border control within the EU from 12 April. Travellers may need to do the following:

  • Show a return or onward ticket
  • Show they have enough money for the stay
  • Use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queuing

Healthcare: make sure you are covered

Whether there’s a deal or not, the government advises all travellers to make sure they have appropriate travel insurance before travelling abroad.

If there’s no deal, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card may not be valid. However, if the UK leaves with a deal, it will be possible to continue to receive state-provided healthcare in the EU if you have an EHIC card. The scheme also covers Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

It’s worth noting that the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, but many travel insurance policies do not.

Driving: extra documents required

UK passport holders will potentially need to bring extra documents if there’s no deal.

If you’re taking your vehicle, you’ll require:

  • A free ‘green card’ – the government suggests it can take one month to get this from your car insurance company
  • A GB sticker for your car
  • An International Driving Permit (IDP) – this can be purchased over the counter in participating Post Offices. Each permit costs £5.50.

If you’re hiring a vehicle abroad, you’ll need to get an IDP before you leave.

If you are travelling to Ireland and plan to drive, an IDP will also be required.

Flights, ferries, Eurostar, Eurotunnel and coaches

The government does not expect to see any disruption to flights, ferries, cruises, Eurostar and Eurotunnel, bus and coach services between the UK and EU in the event of a no deal. In addition, airport security procedures will not change for flights to and from the UK.

However, bus and coach services to non-EU countries, such as Switzerland or Andorra, may not be able to run. The government said it is working to ensure these continue with minimal or no disruption and advises passengers to check for updates.

Pet travel: allow four months to arrange

If there’s no deal, it will not be possible to use the existing pet passport scheme. Instead, Brits will need to follow a different process, which takes four months.

Mobile data roaming: end to free roaming

If there’s no deal, free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end.

Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges that may be levied after 12 April. Don’t forget there is a new law means that you’re protected from incurring mobile data charges above £45 without your consent. Once you reach £45, you will have to opt in to spend more so you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad.

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