The post-Brexit passport rule changes you need to know about
While we're still unsure if we'll be able to travel abroad this summer, it can't hurt to be passport-prepped in case we do get to jet off to sunnier climes.
New Brexit travel rules kicked in at the beginning of this year, which mean it isn't just COVID regulations wannabe British holidaymakers will need to bear in mind.
From whether your passport is valid to whether your pet can still travel on it and how long you can remain in certain countries, there are plenty of fresh post-Brexit considerations that could impact how you travel this year.
"Now that the UK has officially left the European Union, we have extra considerations to make when planning travel between the UK and our favourite European destinations (excluding Ireland)," explains Nicky Kelvin, head of The Points Guy UK.
Here's everything you need to know about the new post-Brexit passport rules.
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Do I need to get a new passport now that we've left the EU?
Possibly, but not necessarily. If you have an old burgundy passport that has at least six months left on it, and was issued less than nine and a half years ago, then you’re okay to travel throughout the EU.
But if your passport is too old or has less than six months left to go, then you need to apply for a new, blue passport post-Brexit.
"You can still travel to Europe using your burgundy British passport, providing that it still has at least six months of validity from the date of entry into the country and it’s less than six months old," explains Kelvin.
"This new requirement is in line with several other popular destinations for Brits outside of Europe like South Africa and Thailand."
Kelvin says if your passport fails to meet the above criteria, you must apply for a new one before travelling.
"Under normal circumstances, it can take up to three weeks for a passport to be processed online. You can also fill out paper forms, which can be obtained from your local Post Office.
"However, due to COVID-19, paper applications are taking longer to process than online applications. When your new passport arrives it will be in the original blue colour."
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How can I tell if my passport is valid for travel?
Check the issue date on the page featuring your photo. It must have been issued no later than nine years and six months ago from the date of travel.
It’s important you calculate from the day you travel, not from the date you are checking.
You can also use the UK government Passport Checker to see whether your passport is still valid.
How much does it cost to renew your passport?
It costs £75.50 to renew or replace a passport if you apply online. It costs £85 if you fill in a paper form – and could take longer than three weeks to be issued.
Will I need a visa to travel to the EU?
Brits will not need to have a visa to travel to to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, so your two-week holiday will likely be unaffected, however, if you want to stay much longer than that you will need to apply for a visa.
The new rules only allow you to stay for up to 90 days in an 180-day period, even if this is in different countries across the EU.
However, it’s important to consider that the 26 countries in the Schengen area (which includes France, Spain and Germany) all fall under the same rules and should be thought of as one trip, essentially counting as a visit to one country.
For example if you visit France for 14 days and then go to Spain for 14 days a couple of months later, the number of days is added together and your total will be 28 days in the Schengen area, rather than 14 in each country.
If you’re planning to stay for longer than 90 days, or if you’re travelling for business or study, then you may require a visa.
It's worth checking the Foreign Office Travel Advice page for more details on the passport rules for each country for British travellers.
Watch: PM: Do not go on holiday to amber list countries.
Will the new rules impact how people queue at passport control?
In EU countries, UK passport holders will no longer be able to use EU lanes or e-gates.
British travellers need to have their passports stamped to enter and leave the EU and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.
You also may be asked for proof of return or onward travel, and to show they have enough money for their stay.
The European Tourism Association has estimated that additional checks could add an extra 90 seconds for each UK passport holder.
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How will Brexit affect health insurance?
According to Skyscanner under the new rules, EHICs that were issued before the end of 2020 will still be valid for use until their expiry date (on the front of your card), but only within EU countries.
"If your EHIC has expired (or you do not have an EHIC at all) you should apply for the UK government’s new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) before you travel," the site explains.
"A GHIC provides you with the same access to emergency and necessary healthcare cover for travel to EU countries."
It is important to note that Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway are not covered by the GHIC so there is slightly less protection overall.
"Therefore, it is essential that you get adequate travel insurance for all trips including those to Europe," advises Kelvin.
"It is also important to consider covering pre-existing conditions, as the EHIC scheme did cover these, but a standard travel insurance policy might not."
More information on what you’ll be covered for and how to apply for one can be found on the government’s website.
Read more: How travel insurance will be affected by vaccine passports
Can I travel with my pet after Brexit?
Taking your pet on holiday with you to the EU has become a little more complicated, so it is worth familiarising yourself with the new rules and planning ahead.
"You can no longer use a pet passport issued in Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) for travel to an EU country or Northern Ireland," the government site explains. "You can still use a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland."
When travelling to an EU country or Northern Ireland, with your pet dog, cat or ferret, your pet will need a microchip, a valid rabies vaccination, an animal health certificate (unless you have a pet passport issued in an EU country or Northern Ireland.
Your dog will also need a tapeworm treatment if you're travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta.
These requirements also apply to assistance dogs.
Your pet will need to enter the EU through a designated Travellers' Point of Entry, where you will need to present proof of your pet's microchip, rabies vaccination and tapeworm treatment.
You will need a pet passport to bring your pet back into the UK.
Check the rules of the country you’re travelling to for any additional restrictions or requirements before you travel.
Find out more details on how to take your pet into the EU on the UK government website.
Any travel benefits due to Brexit?
"One major bonus for travellers will be the reintroduction of cheaper duty free shopping when travelling between the UK and the EU," explains Kelvin.