Travelling in Europe after Brexit

From the 1st of January 2021 the UK will no longer be part of the EU, and there will be some changes for travellers from the UK. We've tried to map out those changes below, though some of them still have grey areas and will need some shaking out - we'll update this page as things clarify. But the principles will remain the same: we are now a 'third country' and some of the advantages of moving within the EU as citizens of a partner state are gone - but none of the new rules are prohibitive or difficult to navigate.

1. Check your passport

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your departure date. Make sure you check your expiration date in plenty of time before travel, it takes up to 3 weeks to get a passport if you apply online. It takes longer if you apply by post. If you're booking travel you will need to use the new passport's number - so if you're planning on travelling in July and your passport expires in December 2021, it's worth getting the new one now, before you start booking flight.

Renew your passport online

Border Control

At border control you may have to show your return ticket and money to prove you have enough for your stay. You will also have to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing. I can't imagine the airport at Pisa starting to ask everybody on incoming flights from Gatwick to show the return tickets and financial independence, so this is a rule that falls in the "possible but rarely invoked" category.

Will I need a Visa?

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

Casa del Cambio
The pool at Casa del Cambio

2. EHICs will still be valid (until they expire).

Good news! The European Health Insurance card will still be valid for medical care in the EU - but only for pre-existing cards that are valid after December 31 2020. The BBC say:

The deal on the future relationship between the EU and the UK was announced on 24 December. It says that all EHIC cards issued before the end of 2020 will be valid until their expiry date. After that, the UK will issue a new card. The UK government says the new card will be called the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), but there are no further details yet on how to obtain it. Like EHIC, the new card will cover chronic or existing illnesses and routine maternity care as well as emergencies.

Different countries may have different rules about pre-paying care, and may be more or less willing to honour your EHIC so you may wish to add a health component to your travel insurance, but the good news is that the EHIC is still valid, though it will be replaced by the GHIC at some time in the near future. But the principles of cross-EU health insurance remain the same.

Apply for or renew your EHIC (or GHIC) card here

You will need your name (exactly as on passport), DOB and NHS number. If you are renewing a card you will also need your login details and if you're a family, it's worth renewing everybody at the same time. Everybody needs their own separate EHIC card.

The EHIC - and then the GHIC - are no longer valid in the four non EU countries that were also signed up. So if you're travelling to or through Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein you'll need full medical cover as part of your travel insurance.

le Colline della Valdorcia
Photo by Kristof Van Rentergem on Unsplash

4. Driving will need more paperwork

You will now need an International Motor Insurance Card or Green Card to prove your car is insured for travel within the EU - you must carry a paper copy because electronic scans or digital photos of the green card document are not deemed acceptable. It's worth asking your insurers in plenty of time as it can take up to a month to receive the paper version.

It also looks like you will need an International Driving Permit to go with your driving licence. Here are the rules so far, in Italian, for anybody who'd like to read them: Brexit Trasporti e Patenti di Guida

Correction on the 31st of December - it looks like we won't need an IDP. Details left below in case you're a belt and braces type, like me.

You can apply for an IDP over the counter at any Post Office and they cost £ 5.50. You will need:

5. Pet Passports are no longer valid

EU Pet passports are no longer valid and there is a different and more long-winded process. For full details see our page on Travelling to Europe with your Pet.

6. Mobile phone roaming charges

Free EU-wide mobile phone roaming is no longer guaranteed now we have left. At the moment the main operators have stated that they won't be changing their policies so this is just something to keep an eye on - perhaps check your provider's website and contract before you travel.

The government has introduced legislation to protect us from enormous bills, capping roaming charges at £45 per monthly billing period, but this would still be an unwelcome surprise.

In Conclusion

For those of you who will be flying to Italy, the changes amount to:

  1. Please check your passport expiry date and EHIC card
  2. You might have to queue a little longer
  3. Bring an IDP if you're renting a car

For those driving:

  1. Also check passport and EHIC dates
  2. Get a green card from your car insurer
  3. Bring an IDP

Nothing that will stop us continuing to enjoy the beautiful landscape, culture and history of Tuscany, Italy and France for years to come.

Start here to find your perfect villa for 2021

Casa dei Fichi
Casa dei Fichi, for 9 on the Tuscan Coast