What a fascinating month it’s been for Brexit watchers!
Political intrigue, posturing, gamesmanship, statesmanship and an unhealthy dose of media driven chaos has made the start to 2019 an interesting spectacle. We are moving closer to the all-important ‘leave’ date on the 29thMarch and whilst it may not feel like it to many, some important questions are finally being answered. Following the Governments recent Brexit deal vote defeat, politicians from all parties are starting to clarify, albeit in typical political double speak, what they really want to do about the peoples vote to leave the EU.
From ours, and indeed many of our clients’ point of view, the biggest anxiety is what ‘deal’ or ‘no deal’ will mean for travel this summer. The travel trade is reporting strong growth in January sales of holidays for summer 2019 and both the UK Government and the EU are insisting that flights between the UK and Europe will not beaffected by Brexit. Whilst this might provide some reassurance it is understandable that anxieties still exist for holiday makers thinking about booking their 2019 vacations.
With the temptation of January sales making it almost impossible to resist offers of early booking discounts on flights and tour packages, it is hard not to wonder whether a deal or no-deal Brexit will affect your travel plans after the 29th March 2019.
Questions you may ask
Will I need a visa?
No – not until 2021.
The European Commission has said that even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK travellers can still visit the EU without a visa.
From 2021, you will need to apply for an ETIAS Authorization (European Travel and Authorization System) which will cost €7 and be valid for 3 years.
Will my passport be valid after 29 March 2019?
Your passport will be valid until its date of expiry for anywhere in the EU.
A no deal means British passport holders will be considered third country nationals (citizens of countries which do not belong to the EU or European Economic Area) by countries within the Schengen area after 29 March 2019. This means complying with different rules to enter and travel around this area.
According to the Schengen Border Code, third country passports must have been issued within the last 10 years on the date of arrival and be valid for 3 months after the date you plan to depart the Schengen area.
You can check whether your passport meets these criteria - click here.
What about ferries and the Eurostar?
The Government say most people will experience no issues concerning flights following the 29th March.
But if you are worried about the implications of flying following a no deal Brexit taking the ferry or the Eurostar might be the way to go.
Brexit will not affect ferries as they are covered by the international maritime convention. The same goes for the Eurostar because protection by EU regulation on rail passengers’ rights is being brought into UK law.
Can I drive abroad?
It has always been easy hiring and driving a car in the EU as long as you have a valid UK license. If there is a no deal, you may also need to apply for an International Driving Permit, which costs £5.50.
Otherwise, travelling within Europe is no different to travelling to anywhere else in the world. Hotels and tour operators accept bookings directly from all nationalities and Brexit will not change this. Your credit cards will still work and whilst the GB£ will probably still be weak against the Euro and US$, we have in practice already acclimatised to the fact travel abroad has become more expensive. It is at this stage speculative to even try and second guess what will happen next to the GB£ post Brexit. Financial markets are famously fickle and how they react could go either way. Knowledge and certainty can settle anxieties even if the certainty is that we are leaving the EU with no deal.
It is probably safe to say that our holidays will cost more from this year although the travel industry is extremely competitive and the UK spends big in Europe. Our business means a lot to most European countries, particularly around the Mediterranean which has suffered badly within EU membership and the monetary union so it will be interesting to see how countries like Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal respond to a different flavour of relationship with their UK clientele.
As a final note, it is worth pointing out to all of our policy holders, even if the EHIC card is scrapped, your insurance will still cover you for emergency medical expenses incurred on holiday within Europe. It is not a condition of insurance that you carry an EHIC card so if it becomes redundant, the insurers will be liable for your medical costs as a result of injury or illness. This will possibly lead to higher premiums but this is unlikely to filter through for at least a year or so post leaving Brexit if there is no deal. If there is a deal, it is likely the EHIC will remain valid providing the UK Government allows for reciprocal rights for EU visitors to the UK.
Read more here.
Questions and Answers - the rights of EU and UK citizens, as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement