Europe is the number one overseas destination for UK travellers – with over 58 million trips abroad each year.
Naturally, holidaymakers and business travellers have questions about what Brexit means for travelling to EU countries. This latest advice highlights that the UK is now on track to enter a transition period after Brexit on 31 January 2020 and is valid until the end of December 2020.
Travel after 31 January 2020
If Parliament ratifies the Withdrawal Agreement before 31 January 2020, which it is on track to do, the UK will enter a transition period, meaning everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel as you do now until at least the end of December 2020.
Common questions about travel after 31 January 2020
Will flights still operate?
Yes. If a deal is agreed then we will be in a transition period, meaning everything will stay the same until the end of December 2020 and flights will continue as normal.
Will ferries and cruise ships still sail?
Ferry services and cruises will still sail as in any case the majority of the rules under which they operate are not based on EU rules, but are international.
Will my coach journey still operate?
Coaches will still be able to travel to and from the EU, and around EU countries as usual.
Will trains from the UK to the EU still operate?
Trains from the UK to the EU will continue to operate as usual.
Will I need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit?
No. UK travellers won’t need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit.
Should I take out travel insurance to cover Brexit?
The best way to protect your holiday is to book a package – it is then the travel provider’s responsibility to make sure your holiday is provided and to offer an alternative or refund if it cannot be delivered.
It is important that whenever and wherever you travel that you have adequate travel insurance which covers your specific needs, including any known medical conditions or activities you plan to do.
Valid passports can still be used. You do not need to have six months left on your passport to travel to the EU. Your passport does however need to be valid for the whole of your trip.
European Health Insurance Card and travel insurance
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows any EU citizen to access state medical care when they are travelling in another EU country. In the event of a Brexit deal, UK registered EHICs will still be valid throughout 2020.
ABTA has always advised holidaymakers and business travellers to make sure they have appropriate travel insurance, whether they have an EHIC card or not, as there are limitations to EHIC.
When travelling in the EU and beyond, it is important you take out travel insurance and check that it covers your current circumstances, including any medical conditions. If you have an annual policy, make sure you check the Terms and Conditions and contact your insurance provider if you’re not sure.
Advice on travel insurance can be found here.
As long as you have a full UK driving licence, you don’t currently need an additional licence to drive in the EU. This will not change following 31 January 2020. An International Driving Permit will not be required, and you do not need a GB sticker or a Green Card for car insurance.
Taking pets abroad
There will be no change in relation to taking pets abroad after 31 January 2020.
Under EU rules, the cost of making calls, sending messages or using the internet on your phone in the EU is the same in the UK and this will continue after 31 January 2020.
Look for the ABTA logo when you book your holiday
Booking your holiday with us, an ABTA Member, means that you’ll be able to relax safe in the knowledge that you’ve booked with a reputable travel company. You’ll also be able to take advantage of ABTA’s offer of support, protection and expertise, which means you can have confidence in ABTA; and a strong trust in our Members. These qualities are core to us as they ensure that you remain confident in the holidays and travel experiences that you buy from our Members. We are able to make this commitment by having our Members abide by the ABTA Code of Conduct, which governs areas such as accurate advertising, fair terms of trading, changes to bookings and managing customer complaints.
How we support you
ABTA Members manage fantastic experiences for millions of holidaymakers, but sometimes things don’t go to plan. If you have an issue that you haven’t been able to resolve with one of our Members, we’re here to help resolve it for you. If needed, you’ll get access to our fast, cost-effective and independent complaints resolution service which could save you time, money and hassle. Booking with our Members means you’ll be able to use a range of our advice services. You can visit the customer support pages at any time and you’ll find a selection of guidance and information.
How ABTA protect you
Once you’ve planned your holiday you can to relax knowing know that the ABTA Code of Conduct means that you can expect high standards from our Members. You’ll also be reassured to know that package holidays sold to you in the European Economic Area (EEA) by our Members are financially protected so that if your travel company fails, you’ll be able to continue your holiday as planned or get your money back. Well known financial protection schemes include ABTA’s own scheme as well as ATOL which covers all flight-based packages. Many ABTA Members also offer additional financial protection for services such as hotels or flights, which may not automatically be protected under a scheme.
Package holidays that are for less than 24 hours, or are for business travel, may not be protected.
If you book your holiday from outside the EEA, this protection won’t apply unless the ABTA Member has opted to voluntarily protect your holiday with us, or unless a different scheme applies. You should ask your travel company to see whether your holiday is protected either voluntarily by the travel company, or under a different scheme.
The expertise ABTA provide to you
ABTA provide expert help and advice for holidaymakers. They work with the Foreign Office and with destinations all over the world so they know what is happening and when. It means we can provide around-the-clock expert advice in a crisis. ABTA are also here to help you understand your rights; for example, if your flight is cancelled or delayed, or if government travel restrictions are announced which affect your holiday plans.