On 31 January 2020, Britain formally withdrew from the European Union after nearly half a century of membership. Eleven months later, the terms of the deal the United Kingdom and European Union agreed upon – ending the freedom of movement between the UK and EU – came into effect.
Our Brexit Readiness team, which has been monitoring the Brexit situation since the referendum in 2016, addresses questions about how the UK’s withdrawal from the EU affects your corporate travel programme and what business travelers need to do to prepare for their trips as well as adopt one-stop travel solutions.
Is there visa-free travel between the UK and EU?
Travelling for pleasure? UK citizens can travel visa-free to the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) countries (i.e., EU countries plus Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), and Switzerland for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. Some non-Schengen European countries (e.g., Croatia and Cyprus) have a separate 90-day in 180-day limit for UK travellers. Visits to these countries do not count toward the overall Schengen 90 days in a 180-day period. You can look up a country’s visa requirements on the UK’s government’s Foreign Travel Advice page.
EU, EEA, and Swiss nationals can visit the UK as a “Standard Visitor” for up to six months sans visa.
Travelling for business? Whether you’re coming from the UK to the EU or vice versa, there’s a chance you’ll need a visa or work permit. Since each country has its own rules surrounding business activities, check the entry requirements and rules of the place you’re visiting to find out what documentation you may require. If you’re attending a business meeting or conference, you likely will not need a visa or work permit.
UK nationals, take note: Even though a visa may not be required for your trip, you will need to obtain a European Travel Information Authorization System visa waiver when visiting one of the Schengen member countries by the end of 2022 when the scheme becomes fully operational. This waiver, valid for three years, will become obligatory for visa-free visitors from more than 60 countries.
Tip: Need to obtain a visa or passport quickly or have a visa-related question? We offer expedited services and visa assistance through our third-party supplier CIBT.
Are there any new passport/border considerations for UK citizens travelling to EU countries?
Stricter passport rules for Brits visiting the EU came into effect after Brexit. To enter the EU, a UK national’s passport must be:
- Less than 10 years old on the day you enter (check the ‘date of issue’).
- Valid for at least three months after the day you plan to leave (check the ‘expiry date’).
For further information, check the Travel Advice section on the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s website. (Click on the country you’re visiting, then on ‘Entry requirements,’ and scroll down to ‘Passport validity.’)
Tip: If you’re still uncertain whether your passport qualifies for an upcoming trip, contact your travel provider or embassy of the country you are visiting to make sure your document meets both requirements above.
Are there any new passport/border considerations for EU citizens travelling to the UK?
EU nationals may enter the UK using a passport that’s valid for the duration of their trip to Great Britain. EU, EEA, or Swiss citizens can no longer use their national ID card to enter the UK, except for those who:
- Have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme, or Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man’s settlement schemes.
- Have an EU Settlement Scheme family permit, or the equivalent from Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man.
- Have a frontier worker permit.
- Are an S2 Healthcare Visitor.
- Are a Swiss national and have a Service Provider from Switzerland visa.
In these cases, you can continue to use your national ID card to enter the UK until at least 31 December 2025.
Tip: EU citizens, make sure you have a biometric symbol on your passport. This way, you may use the eGates at UK airports and not face routine questioning by a Border Force officer.
Has Brexit impacted driving license rules?
Photocard driving licences issued in the UK are still valid for driving in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland. Drivers with a paper licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey, or the Isle of Man may need to purchase an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries and Norway. The type of IDP a motorist will need (there are three) depends on the countries you’re visiting, so check with the embassy of the country you will be driving in. As of August 2021, UK motorists will not need to carry a motor insurance ‘green card’ to prove they are insured – all UK motor insurers now provide the minimum third-party cover for driving in EU member states.
EU citizens will not need an IDP to drive within the UK – just their regular driver’s license – but those whose vehicles are insured in an EU or EEA country will need to carry a green card or other proof of insurance.
Tip: To avoid the hassle of obtaining an IDP, forgo driving and use the train or our Ground Transportation platform to book yourself a ride.
Do UK citizens still have health insurance coverage in the EU?
British nationals can use their Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) or, if still valid, their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to receive state-provided medically necessary healthcare in EU member states and Switzerland at a reduced cost or even for free.
GHICs and most UK EHICs are not valid in Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein, so make sure you take out travel insurance with medical coverage. In Norway, you can use a UK passport to get medically necessary healthcare.
Those visiting the UK from an EU country or Switzerland can use a valid EHIC issued by their home country to access healthcare. This covers emergency treatment and treatment of pre-existing medical conditions.
Tip: No matter where employees are travelling, companies should check with their health and travel insurance providers for more coverage details and see if they should purchase additional insurance.
Will UK consumers be charged mobile phone roaming fees when traveling to EU countries?
Previously, British consumers traveling to EU and EEA countries could enjoy surcharge-free roaming as part of the “Roam Like at Home” arrangement established throughout Europe in 2017. This meant their calls, text messages, and data services were charged at the same rate they were paying domestically.
Now British travelers – including employees of UK companies travelling in the EU for business – no longer have the guarantee of surcharge-free roaming. So, check with your mobile phone provider to find out about any roaming charges you may have to pay before traveling. (As of this writing, Virgin Media O2 is the only one of the four big mobile network operators not reintroducing roaming charges in Europe.)
To protect consumers from unexpected charges, the UK government has introduced a new law that sets a limit of £45 for roaming per monthly billing period. This means consumers cannot continue to use mobile data services when roaming unless they actively choose to continue spending.
Tip: Companies sending should speak to their mobile providers about fees that may be incurred when sending UK-based employees to EU countries and the options they have in a post-Brexit world.