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How will brexit affect your travel plans?

24th April 2019 Print

The UK has just agreed to a Brexit extension until October 31st, but they haven’t ruled out the possibility of leaving the EU at an earlier date if an agreement in Parliament can be reached. For many holidaymakers, the extension has come as a relief, but there’s still the big question of what to expect when it comes to travel after the UK finally severs ties with the European Union, whenever that may be. 

It’s important to bear in mind that Brexit has significant implications for travellers. So, whether you regularly commute to the EU or take regular European holidays, it’s important to stay in the know so that you have a better idea of what to expect. 

Will I Need a Replacement Passport?

Your passport probably bears the words ‘European Union’ in gold writing on the top of the cover, so it’s understandable to wonder whether or not current UK passports will still be valid once the country leaves the Union. However, you will still be able to travel with your current EU passport, as long as it is not nearing the end of its validity period. If your passport is close to the expiry date, it’s wise to order a passport renewal with plenty of time to spare. You can renew your passport online for the easiest option or fill out a form at a local Post Office. Follow this link to find out more about Passport Renewal, online, post & in person.

The good news is that as long as your passport is within date, you can travel as normal up until the UK officially leaves. After that, you should still be able to travel within the EU for a least a few months, but the actual timeframe is yet to be confirmed. Bear in mind that you will not be able to use the EU lanes at the airport after the leaving date. Travel between the UK and the Republic of Ireland will remain the same, with no passport required. 

Will I Need to Apply for a Visa?

One of the biggest questions asked by UK travellers to the EU is, ‘will I need to apply for a visa?’. The good news is that whilst this was speculated for a while, the EU has finally confirmed that a visa will not be required for travel to European countries in most cases – even in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Back in November, the European Commission announced that it intended to allow UK citizens to continue travelling to Europe visa-free for up to ninety days in a 180-day period. 

What About Flights?

Another big worry regarding travel after Brexit was that flights would be grounded; many travellers worried that the airlines that they use regularly would no longer be allowed to operate between the UK and EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Thankfully, the EU has also debunked this idea, confirming that flights will continue to operate as normal, even if no deal is agreed upon. This, along with visa-free travel, addresses two of the biggest travel-related concerns after Brexit for tourists and business travellers, who can now enjoy more confidence that their travel plans will not be hampered, regardless of the conditions of the eventual exit. 

Will There Be a Time Limit on Stays?

Up until Brexit, UK citizens have been able to enjoy limit-free stay, work, and study in EU countries as part of the European Union. But it’s important to be aware that after Brexit is finalized, there will no longer be the automatic entitlement to stay for as long as you like. If you wish to stay for any longer than ninety days in a 180-day period, you will need to apply for permission. So, if you have a second home in an EU country such as France or Spain and usually tend to spend a long period of time there in the summer, for example, be prepared for more paperwork. 

When Will I Get a Blue Passport?

If you need to renew your passport soon or are not planning to travel and have plans for renewing your passport after Brexit, you may be wondering when the new, blue British passports will be ready. Originally, the plan was to stop issuing passports displaying ‘European Union’ on the front cover after the 29th of March and begin issuing blue UK passports, sharing the same colour front page as North Korea and Croatia, from the autumn. But with Brexit now extended once again until the end of October, it’s expected that blue passports will be rolled out later. If you want to get your hands on a blue passport as soon as possible, keep your eye out for official government updates. It’s likely to be a few months at least after Brexit is finalised. 

What if I Have a Trip Already Booked?

If you have already booked a trip to an EU country for after October 31st, you should be able to travel as normal as long as your travel plans meet all of the conditions discussed above. If you have a valid UK passport and do not plan to stay for any longer than ninety days, you will be able to travel as normal. However, bear in mind that since you will no longer be able to use the EU lanes at the airport, it may be worth allocating some extra time for boarding your flight. Keep a lookout for official government updates, and updates from your airline or travel agent that are likely to be released closer to the exit date to give travellers the latest information on the situation. 

Will I Still Be Able to Travel Passport-Free in the Schengen Area?

As EU nationals, UK citizens were previously allowed to travel without a passport between different destinations in the Schengen Area. However, once the UK has left the EU, you will no longer be automatically entitled to this. So, if you are travelling to explore countries within the Schengen Area, be sure to allocate some extra time for queuing and showing your passport at the security desk upon entry. It will be the same experience as you are already used to when travelling to and from the UK, which has never been a part of Schengen. 

Are There Any Other Hurdles to Consider?

Whilst travel to the EU should run almost as smoothly as usual, it’s important to bear in mind that you are no longer automatically entitled to free movement after Brexit, as you will no longer be an EU citizen. Therefore, be prepared for certain complications to be more likely. You may be asked to provide sufficient proof of finances for your stay in an EU country when visiting, and you may be asked to show a return or onward ticket. Whilst these issues are not expected to be widespread, visiting the EU will certainly become more similar to visiting non-EU countries for UK citizens, for example, the USA or Australia. 

Brexit may have been delayed for several months, but it’s good to be prepared for how the impending exit could affect your travel plans. Are you planning to travel to the EU after Brexit?