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What's new in the EU?

Travelling between the EU and UK after Brexit

As restrictions begin to lift in the UK, people’s thoughts are turning to overseas travel once more.  However, the world of international tourism is very different to that which we last saw in February 2020. On top of the uncertainties resulting from the pandemic, we must also consider the implications of Brexit and fresh hurdles facing those travelling between the EU and the UK. Below we list a few factors to consider before you travel:

1.  Don’t forget your travel documents – and check them first

UK passports will remain valid to use in the EU. However your passport must be under ten years old and be valid for at least six months on the day you travel. If your passport, like most, has spent the last year gathering dust it is wise to check the expiry date. If it is soon to expire then a new, blue, British passport can be ordered from HM Passport Office.

Visas must also be considered. Happily, British tourists travelling to the EU, Switzerland, Iceland or Liechtenstein for a maximum of 90 days within any 180 day period (the 90 day limit is in total across the countries visited, except for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania where they have their own separate 90 day limits) can travel using their British passports without any visa.[1] The same is true of some business travel (i.e. travel for meetings or conferences), but if you plan to provide client services abroad we suggest you seek specific immigration advice for your circumstances.

As part of the reciprocal arrangements, most EU travellers will not need a visa if visiting the UK for short periods of time. Other travellers may apply for a standard visitor visa if required. There is a helpful visa requirements check available here.

For those visiting the UK on a more regular, professional or permanent basis it is less easy to generalise. A wide range of immigration visas exist and MTG can provide advice as to which visa is most appropriate for your circumstances, and assist with the visa application process.

2.  Travelling with pets? Plan ahead…

During lockdown pet ownership has soared and, due to various lockdowns over the past 14 months, many pets have rarely (if ever) been left alone for the day, let alone stayed behind while their owners take a holiday. EU pet passports have existed for some time, however since 1st January 2021 pet passports issued in England, Wales or Scotland will no longer be valid for travel in the EU.[2] Instead any dog, cat or ferret travelling from Britain to Europe will need an animal health certificate, a microchip and evidence of a valid rabies vaccination and tapeworm treatment. These must be presented at the port of departure and re-entry. A new animal health certificate is required for each trip to an EU country or Northern Ireland.  If you are travelling with any other animal it is wise to conduct additional research before making your bookings.

3.  Driving in the EU

Some good news is that if you have a plastic photocard UK licence there are no additional changes for driving in the EU following Brexit.

4.  Health and travel insurance – check your EHIC cards

Travel insurance is always a prudent purchase. In addition to this, British travellers must consider healthcare when visiting the EU.  If you hold a ‘European Health Insurance Card’ (EHIC) it can still be used until it expires, after which a new ‘Global Health Insurance Card’ (GHIC) should be applied for. 

5.  Time to pack – but be aware of what you can include in your picnic

There are new restrictions on what food and drink products can be taken to the EU from the UK, including in relation to fruit, vegetables, meat and dairy products (the rules in reverse i.e. what you can bring from the EU to the UK are less strict).  We recommend checking the rules before setting off, if you plan to take any food with you.

6.  Mobile phones: is data roaming back?

Finally, when calling home from the EU in recent years we have been protected from unexpected and high phone bills resulting from ‘roaming charges’. The biggest UK operators have said they do not intend to bring back roaming charges, but the UK-EU trade deal does not rule it out and so do check with your provider to avoid a nasty shock![3]

It looks like travelling will be back on the cards this summer – make sure you can enjoy it in full by factoring in the above points when you are planning the trip; being turned away at the airport or border would be particularly frustrating after the past year of ‘staycationing’ at home!

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this further, we would be happy to advise on or help with any aspect of raised in this article, please speak to your usual contact at Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP or email us at info@mtgllp.com.

These notes do not contain or constitute legal advice, and no reliance should be placed on them. 

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