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Brexit, the UK and the Schengen Area

If you are a UK citizen and you plan on travelling to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you need to be aware that things will change from 1st January 2021.

The UK leaving the EU on the 31st January 2020 will not have any impact upon your right to visit European countries inside the Schengen area.

From 1st January 2021, if you plan to travel to a Schengen country you should think about the following:

  • check your passport
  • get travel insurance that covers your healthcare
  • check you have the right driving documents
  • organise pet travel - contact your vet at least 4 months before you go

The Essentials

Passports

You may need to renew your British passport earlier if you’re travelling from 1 January 2021.

On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:

- have at least 6 months left
- be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)

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

It usually takes 3 weeks if you need to renew your passport. There’s a premium service if you need it sooner.

These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.

Healthcare

You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad.

From 1 January 2021 your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) card might not be valid.

It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.

Modes of Travel

Driving

You’ll need some extra documents from 1 January 2021.

You’ll need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries. Check if you need an IDP.

If you’re taking your own vehicle, you’ll also need:

a ‘green card’ - allow 1 month to get this from your vehicle insurance company
a GB sticker

We will have more information about this as details are released

Flights, ferries, cruises, Eurostar and Eurotunnel, bus and coach services

From 1 January 2021, the following will be able to run as before:

- flights
- ferries and cruises
- the Eurostar and Eurotunnel
- bus and coach services between the UK and the EU

If you’re flying:
Airport security procedures will not change for direct flights to and from the UK
there should not be delays at airport security if you change flights in EU airports
However you travel, check with the company you’re travelling with for any delays or disruption before you leave.

Entering other countries

Short trips (90 days or less)

You will not need a visa if you’re a tourist (no Schengen visa needed)

If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

Travel to Ireland will not change from 1 January 2021. You’ll also be able to work in Ireland in the same way as before.

Longer trips (91 days or more)

You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

Visit the Embassy website for the country you intend to travel to for more information about their long-term visas and how you can apply for one. Use the links on our 'Where do I apply?' page to find the Embassy website.

Border Control

At border control, you may need to:

- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay
- use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing

You will also need to declare cash of £10,000 or more (or the equivalent in another currency) if you take it between the UK and any other country.

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