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UK Has Officially Left The EU – What Travelers Need To Know

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Shortly before midnight on December 31st, at 11 PM, the UK completed its formal separation from the European Union (EU). The culmination of months of negations, talks and meetings between London and Brussels, it is a decision that will have a profound effect on all aspects of British people’s lives – not least when it comes to travel. Here’s a look at the travel-related changes that Brits will have to get used to on the continent, as well as any changes that will apply to EU citizens who are intending to visit the UK.

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What Was Pre-Brexit Travel Like For British Travelers?

Brits enjoyed high levels of freedoms when it came to travelling, living and working in the EU. Membership of the EU meant that the right to travel, reside and gain employment in any EU member state was protected by Article 3 of the Treaty on European Union, and it was a right enjoyed by millions of Brits each year. However, following the formal separation between the UK and the EU, such rights are no longer afforded to the British people.

Unfortunately for the British, travel is going to be slightly more complicated in 2021 and beyond. Following the end of the 11-month transition that was in place following the UK’s decision to leave the EU on January 31st 2020, new rules came into effect today that will change how British people travel on the continent.

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What Are The New Travel Rules?

In the short term, Britain’s exit from the EU makes it very difficult to travel to its member states. Because of Covid-19, most travelers from non-member states are unable to travel to the EU except for essential reasons, with the exception of countries with low infection rates such as New Zealand. Now that the UK has left the EU, it too is part of the ban on non-member states entering the EU at present. Whilst the EU may decide to bypass such a ban with a travel corridor agreement, Britain’s current coronavirus surge means that this is unlikely to happen any time soon.

Looking longer-term, and not too much has changed for British travelers looking for a holiday. They are able to stay in EU countries for up to 90 days in any period of 180 days, whilst they can visit Bulgaria, Romania, Cyprus and Croatia for up to 90 days without using their 90-day allowance for other countries.

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Brits will may need to secure permits to stay longer in European countries, or to work or study in them and from 2022, British travelers will need to pay for visa-waivers to visit many countries. The British government has also warned its citizens that they may be required to show proof of an onward journey and that they have enough money to support themselves during their stay.

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Another change that British travelers must be aware of centers around insurance. No new European Health Insurance Cards will be printed, yet existing cards will be valid until they expire. Whilst the EU-UK agreement mentions an alternative scheme is in the works, no details have yet emerged, so it is advised that travelers get insurance that includes healthcare.

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EU Travelers Heading To Britain – What Has Changed?

EU travelers may still enter the UK for short stays without needing to secure a visa beforehand, but those who intend on coming to the UK to work or on a business trip must have a valid visa permitting them to do so. Irish citizens are free to enter the UK to work and live as they could prior to Brexit.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories