Brexit FAQs: Transport

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Updated 18 January 2021

This blog is one of a series answering some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the UK’s exit from the EU, and what changes on 1 January 2021. These blogs are based on information available at the time of publication, and clearly the situation, and our understanding of it, will be subject to change.   

They also provide some general information and should not be seen as definitive advice for individual circumstances which may be complex.  However, wherever possible links to further sources of information are provided

Other blogs cover the topics below, and can be found at the following links:

  1. Overview
  2. Citizens
  3. Health
  4. EU law and institutions
  5. Negotiations (No Deal)
  6. Fishing, farming, and support for business

Brexit FAQs: Travel

No. If you have a UK passport there is no need to renew it because the UK is leaving the EU.

British passports have been burgundy and have had ‘European Union’ on the cover.

From autumn 2019, the UK began to issue blue passports without ‘European Union’ on the cover. Both passport designs will continue to be valid post Brexit, so long as your passport meets the following requirements:

  • has at least 6 months left before expiry
  • is less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left).
A note on passports issued prior to September 2018

UK passports are valid for ten years, but before September 2018, people renewing their passports prior to the expiry date, were granted credit of up to nine months. This means that some passports issued before September 2018 will be valid for up to 10 years and nine months.

It is important to note is that after 31 December 2020 (the end of the transition period), any months of credit will not count as a valid period for travel in the Schengen area.

The UK Government has created an online tool where people are able to check whether their passport is valid for travel in Europe after Brexit.

Aviation: The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement will allow flights to continue between the UK and the EU. However, UK airlines will no longer be able to fly between two points in the EU. UK airlines wishing to continue operating these routes will need to set up subsidiary companies in the EU which many have done already.

Road Haulage: The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement will allow hauliers to continue operating between the UK and EU and to transit through UK or EU territory (which will allow Irish lorries to continue to use Britain as a landbridge to deliver goods to the EU). UK hauliers no longer have the same rights as under EU membership in terms of being able to pick up and drop off goods multiple times within the EU.

Further information is provided in the UK Government summary explainer.

From 1 January 2021 travellers will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. Instead, they will need an animal health certificate (AHC) for their pet. They will need to allow at least 1 month to arrange this and relevant vaccinations.

The UK Government has issued guidance providing further details on travelling to Europe with a pet from 1 January 2021.

Further information is provided in a House of Commons library briefing (17 December 2020)

From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end. Travellers will need to check with their mobile phone operator to find out if roaming charges will apply.

A new law means that travellers are protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without them knowing.

Once they reach £45, they need to opt in to spend more so that they can continue using the internet while abroad. The phone operator will tell customers how they can do this.

People should have appropriate travel insurance in place before taking any trip. This was the case prior to the UK leaving the EU and remains the case after the UK has left.

From 1 January 2021 there are new rules in place for travel to the EU.

A tourist will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. They will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If visiting these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.

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

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement requires the UK and EU to notify each other if they intend to impose a visa requirement for short-term visits by nationals in good time and, if possible, at least three months before such a requirement takes effect. Where the UK decides to impose a visa requirement for short-term visits on nationals of an EU Member State, that requirement shall apply to the nationals of all EU Member States.

The UK Government’s travel advice webpages provide up-to-date requirements for individual countries.

Travel to Ireland has not changed from 1 January 2021. People will also be able to work in Ireland in the same way as before.

From 2022, UK nationals will have to pay for a visa-waiver scheme in order to visit many European Union countries.