Travelling to Europe after Brexit, a guide

Travelling to Europe after Brexit

Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the way we travel to Europe has changed. We’ve had a read through the new rules and regulations and here is our digested check list of what you need to know before you set off on your next European adventure.

British Passports

British passport


If you are travelling to an EU country, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, then your passport must now be less than 10 years old and have at least six months left on it when you depart. If you are travelling to Ireland you can continue to use your passport as before.


The good news is that UK holidaymakers will continue to have access to emergency and necessary healthcare when travelling to the EU. Your existing EHIC will remain valid until its expiry date, at which point you can apply for the new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). The GHIC is free and should be claimed directly from the NHS. Avoid the websites offering to ‘help’ with applications and charging for their services – the forms are very simple to fill out and no company can fast track your application.

However, if you are travelling to Iceland, Liechtenstein or Norway you will no longer be covered by the EHIC or the new GHIC. In Norway, you can use a UK passport to get medically necessary healthcare such as emergency treatment, or to treat a pre-existing condition. 

There is more information about EHIC/GHIC here 

Travelling with a health condition

Your EHIC/GHIC will cover medically necessary treatment such as dialysis, cancer care or oxygen treatment but you may need to pre-arrange it directly with your healthcare provider. You should speak to your doctor before you travel and buy additional travel insurance with healthcare cover for your condition.

Travelling with medicines

If you need to take medicines with you, then you will need a letter to prove that it’s prescribed to you if it contains a ‘controlled drug’. (Speak to your doctor or pharmacist.) You may need to show this letter at the border when you enter or leave the UK. You may also need a licence for controlled drugs if your trip is longer than three months, or you are travelling with more than three months’ supply.

Healthcare when travelling to Ireland

If you are ordinarily resident in the UK, then you will be able to get ‘necessary healthcare’ from state healthcare services in Ireland during your visit. This covers medical emergencies that can’t wait until you get back to the UK, as well as treatment for pre-existing or chronic conditions. Some treatments, such as kidney dialysis or chemotherapy, will need to be pre-arranged with the relevant healthcare provider in Ireland. You should be aware that not all state healthcare is free in Ireland and you may have to pay for services that you would get for free on the NHS.

When you use a health service in Ireland, you will need photo ID, plus one of the following:

. UK-issued EHIC or GHIC

. UK driving licence

. UK biometric residence permit

. Northern Ireland voter’s card or medical card

. Two documents showing your UK address (for example bank statement or utility bill) issued within the last three months

Travel Insurance

Santorini Greece

It is essential that you arrange travel insurance as soon as you book a holiday – a EHIC/GHIC card does not cover all the costs involved in medical emergencies and, without insurance, you won’t be protected if you need to cancel the trip before you travel for reasons beyond your control. Many insurers require proof that you have a valid EHIC or GHIC.

Entering other countries

Venice Europe

UK passport holders will now have to use a separate lane from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens at Border Control. Be prepared to show a return or onward ticket and prove that you have enough money for your stay.

Tourists on short trips to most EU countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, do not need a visa. You can stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. (Visits to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania do not count towards the 90-day total.) However, if you are staying longer to work or study, or for business travel, then you may need to apply for a visa or permit. Check the travel advice page of the country you are travelling to.

You can travel to and work in Ireland just as before 1 January 2021.

Taking food, drink, plants and plant products into EU countries

You are not able to take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk and infant food. You will need a certificate to take certain plants and plant products into the EU. You can check the rules on the European Commission website.

Mobile Roaming

The guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway has ended. However, many providers have agreed not to charge (check with yours before you travel) and there is now a new law protecting you from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing. Once you reach £45, you need to opt in so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.

Driving to Europe

Europe Map car

You will now need a Green Card and a GB sticker if you are taking your own vehicle to Europe. If you have a paper driving licence, or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, then you might also need an International driving permit. Check with the embassy of the country you are driving in. (Remember, this may be more than one.)

For more detailed information, links to embassies and the European Commission, visit Government website here