How Brexit will change journey

(CNN) – After four years of confusion, it finally happened.

The UK officially cut ties with the European Union last night when the Brexit transition period ended at 11 p.m. UK time.

Politically, Brexit was not an easy path, and the UK – which voted 52 to 48 in 2016 to leave the EU – is entering the new year more divided than ever.

But what does that mean for travel?

It all depends on whether your passport is from the UK, EU or elsewhere – and which currency zone you are from.

For some travelers, the tank pound means that a trip to the UK looks very attractive.

But for UK and EU citizens, things will change.

Can UK nationals travel to Europe now?

In the long term, yes. In the short term – may or may not. In most EU countries, borders are currently closed to citizens from outside the bloc due to Covid-19. Now that the UK has “third country” status, citizens have lost their right to travel freely within the EU. There is now technically no difference between a British citizen trying to visit France and an American citizen, which of course has been banned since March hoping to do the same.

However, since the EU states remain sovereign nations, each country has control over its own borders and can make an exception for British citizens if desired. It could take some time to see how this will play out as arrivals from the UK are currently banned from most parts of Europe thanks to the new variant of Covid-19 first identified in the south of England.

Most EU countries have covid-related entry restrictions from the UK until at least January 6th. Only then can we clarify whether countries will make exceptions for the British once the current health crisis subsides.

There might be some surprises. For example, Germany has already added the UK to its list of allowed travel (although entry from the UK is currently banned until at least January 6th due to the new variant of Covid-19).

Greece is currently also allowing travelers from the UK and has not indicated that this will change.

However, Britain’s historic ally, Portugal, which launched a “Brelcome” campaign last year promising that “Portugal will never leave you”, has announced that UK nationals will no longer be admitted as of January 1, except for important trips. Belgium and Norway said the same thing.

France, Italy and Spain have not yet made any announcements, although foreign travel from the UK is currently banned for all three countries due to the Covid variant.

How about the other way around?

EU citizens can travel to the UK without too many problems. The UK has not closed its borders at any point during the pandemic. Anyone can participate as long as they have a visa or visa waiver. All you need to do is fill out a passenger search form and should self-isolate for 10 days upon arrival (or five days if you are using the test to release). Scheme), unless you come from a country that is on the list of “travel corridors”.

Will it be cheaper to visit the UK?

Of course, it probably depends on which currency zone you come from. The pound plunged in June 2016 when the referendum was announced and has yet to regress to pre-Brexit levels against the euro and the dollar.

However, it’s not as bad (or good, depending on your point of view) as it was – after another historic crash in March when the pound fell to a 30-year low against the dollar and an 11-year low against the euro at the beginning of the year In the last round of negotiations (reinforced by the pandemic) the pound gained in value and recovered again after a trade deal with the EU was announced on December 24th.

However, when you convert US dollars, it is a big difference from the exciting days of 2007 when the conversion rate was $ 2 to £ 1. For many, the sterling decline will finally make a trip to the UK profitable.

I’m british After the reopening of the borders after Covid, can I still travel freely to the EU?

Post-Covid restrictions, whenever possible, you can still travel without a visa. However, you are only allowed to spend 90 out of 180 days in the Schengen area (most EU countries plus Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein). This means that it is no longer possible to spend the winter in the Mediterranean. For example, if you entered the EU on January 1st, you would have to leave on April 1st – you would not be allowed to return until June 30th and would then have to leave before October.

These allowances are cumulative and Schengen-wide – so you cannot spend three months in one country, go home and return to the city for a weekend trip.

The EU will introduce a visa waiver system called ETIAS (similar to the US ESTA system) by the end of 2022. It is likely that UK citizens will be accepted into the system, which will cost around EUR 7 for three years.

How about the other way around?

Visas are not currently required for EU citizens visiting the UK. You can currently spend six months in the UK without applying for a visa.

The UK is expected to include EU citizens in its ETA visa exemption system by 2025.

Are things getting more expensive for British citizens?

Exchange rate aside, probably. If you leave the EU, UK telephone companies can re-charge roaming charges when you travel (these were previously abolished under EU rules). The main UK providers have stated that they will not introduce them but will check with you before you leave.

Conversely, EU citizens could be charged roaming charges when using their phones in the UK. Contact your provider again.

How about health care?

According to the government, UK citizens will need travel insurance – although the December 24th contract states that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) (which provide local health insurance) is valid until their expiration date. Note that they are not valid in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

The regular treatment of chronic illnesses – such as dialysis or chemotherapy – can be continued across borders after booking in advance.

Meanwhile, the UK has announced that it will create a “global health insurance card” for its citizens, although details (and timing) have not yet been made public.

Expect a lot of confusion in the months to come – when CNN called EHIC inquiries on Dec. 31, an answering machine said the cards would expire on Jan. 1, and we should call back in two weeks to find out whether the government has agreed on an alternative.

Do we need new documents?

UK citizens now need a period of validity of six months to enter the EU (technically, the EU needs a period of validity of three months, but the UK advises its citizens to have six months left). EU citizens can enter the UK with ID cards until October 1, 2021. After that, you will need a passport unless you are a UK resident.

Speaking of paperwork, you may have to bring a lot more with you. Apart from the pandemic, Spain reserves the right, for example, to refuse entry to tourists – including those with a valid visa or with the right to travel without a visa – if they cannot prove where they will be, a documented travel route or a return trip. and return flight. In addition, everyone who wants to travel to Spain must “prove that they have sufficient support options for entering Spain” – that means at least € 90 per day of your trip and at least € 810 for your entire trip (even for a cheeky weekend -City trip). The days of free running in Europe, depending on the mood, may be over for the British.

How about driving?

Last night, just four and a half hours before the end of the transition period, the UK government confirmed in a tweet that its citizens can drive in the EU without international driving licenses – UK licenses will be recognized as they were before Brexit.Will it be mutual? We are not sure yet. The relevant page on the UK government website states that it is out of date.

When bringing a UK car into the EU a UK sticker must be displayed and you must have a ‘green card’ listing your insurance in multiple languages.

What is happening at the border?

British nationals are officially no longer allowed to use the EU passport gate during border controls. However, each EU country can decide whether or not to grant an exemption. With the UK currently banned from most countries due to Covid, the situation is likely to improve in a few months.

The UK has confirmed that EU citizens can continue to use UK / EEA channels and ePassport gates at UK border control. These are still open to citizens of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the USA.

What about pets?

Bringing your dog with you during the summer vacation is a rite of passage for many Britons. As the UK is no longer part of the EU pet passport system, you must obtain an animal health certificate at least 10 days before you travel. These are available from your veterinarian. Note that you will also need a certificate if you are traveling to Northern Ireland from England, Wales or Scotland.

How about moving abroad?

There is no longer any freedom of movement between the EU and the UK. If you want to switch between the two, you now have to apply for a visa.

What about Gibraltar?

In an 11-hour deal on December 31, it was announced that Gibraltar – the British territory on the southern tip of Spain – would become part of the Schengen area as the entry point to Spain. However, Prime Minister Fabian Picardo has confirmed that only the area will be part of the Schengen area – not the people. In other words, UK nationals cannot use it as a back door to Spain.

There will be two entry points: one for Gibraltar and one for Schengen. The airport is located in the Schengen area, so immigration controls are not carried out for intra-Schengen flights.

And Ireland?

The Republic of Ireland is exempt from the 90/180 rule for UK citizens. And there is no limit to the items you can bring across the Northern Ireland border as long as they are for personal use or gifts.

There will be no border controls between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. However, you cannot bring meat or dairy products to Northern Ireland from England, Scotland or Wales. If you are traveling with a pet, they must have a certificate – even if you are not planning to enter the Republic of Ireland.

Any advantages?

Duty-free shopping will now return for travel between the EU and the UK, even though the UK has stopped duty-free shopping for non-excise goods, such as electronics and cosmetics.

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