New Brexit passport rules have come into effect from 1 January 2021. Here’s a look at what that means, and how travel to the European Union and elsewhere has changed since Brexit.
What are the Brexit passport rules?
If you’re travelling to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein after 1 January 2021, there are some new Brexit passport rules to take into account. Firstly, your British passport will need to have at least six months left on it before it expires. And second, it must have been issued less than nine years and six months ago.
Do I need to get a new passport after Brexit?
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 good to travel throughout the EU. But if your passport is too old or has less than six months left to go, then you’ll need to apply for a new, blue passport. You can use the UK government Passport Checker to see whether your passport is still valid.
Do I need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit?
If you’re only planning a short holiday, you won’t need a visa to travel to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The general rule is that you can stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa.
However, it’s important to bear in mind that the 26 countries in the Schengen area (including France, Spain and Germany) essentially count as one country. If you visit Spain for 14 days and then go to France for 14 days a couple of months later, the number of days is added together. That means 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. Check the Foreign Office Travel Advice page for more details on the Brexit passport rules for each country.
Have COVID-19 rules changed travel to the EU after Brexit?
Most EU countries do not currently allow travellers to enter from outside of the EU. Since 1 January 2021, UK citizens count as travellers from outside the EU and COVID-19 travel restrictions may apply. EU countries can choose to keep allowing travel from the UK, and some EU countries already allow travel from the UK for urgent reasons, such as family emergencies or taking up new work. Rules can change quickly – to keep up with the latest travel restrictions to EU countries check out our map here and check the Foreign Office travel advice page.
Are there changes to travelling to the US after Brexit?
The new Brexit passport rules don’t affect travelling to the United States after 1 January. Usually, UK citizens can travel to the US without a visa as part of the Visa Waiver Program (you still need to fill out an ESTA form), and under normal circumstances that will stay the same in 2021.
However, COVID-19 has made things more complicated. While you can still fill out an ESTA online for future travel, there are travel restrictions in place from the UK to the US. To keep up to date with the latest travel restrictions in the US and elsewhere, check out our handy map showing where’s open.
How long can I holiday in Spain under the new Brexit passport rules?
Since 1 January 2021, you’re able to stay for up to 90 days in Spain in a 180-day period. If you want to stay for longer, you’ll have to apply for a visa. You’ll also need a visa if you plan to work while you’re there.
And don’t forget that Spain is part of the Schengen area. That means any visits to other Schengen countries will also count towards the 90-day total.
UK to Ireland travel after Brexit
Travel to the Republic of Ireland remains unaffected by the new Brexit passport rules. So the rule about having six months left on your passport won’t apply – everything will be the same as before.
Ireland is part of the Common Travel Area, so British nationals don’t need a passport to visit the country, just an acceptable form of ID. If you use your passport as ID, it should be valid for the whole of your stay.
Has business travel changed with the new Brexit passport rules?
If you’re travelling for business purposes, like attending a conference, check the Foreign Office Travel Advice page for the country you’re visiting to find out what’s required.
You might also have to tell HMRC if you’re earning money in the EU, and you may require documentation if you’re planning to bring goods with you. The government has produced a list of extra requirements for business travellers here.
Where can I live with a British passport after Brexit?
British nationals who are already living in the EU can continue living there as part of the Withdrawal Agreement. But they may need to apply for residency status in their adopted country – further details can be found on the Foreign Office website.
Since 1 January 2021, UK citizens won’t have an automatic right to move to and live in the EU. However, British nationals can still live and work in Ireland without the need for a visa or residency permit.
Are there other changes in air travel after Brexit?
Travellers are able to take advantage of duty-free shopping on alcohol and tobacco when travelling to EU countries from 1 January. But at the same time, the government is ending tax-free sales on electronics, clothing and fragrances at the airport. Check the UK government website for more details on the changes.
Otherwise, the main difference will be at passport control. The UK government is pressing for British nationals to be able to use EU passport gates at the time of writing. If this is agreed, it could reduce any potential delays for British travellers. But if a deal can’t be worked out, British nationals could potentially face a longer wait in the non-EU queue.
Is my EHIC still valid under the new Brexit passport rules?
Under the new rules, All EHIC cards that were issued before the end of 2020 will still be valid for use until their expiry date (on the front of your card).
The UK government has stated that it will create a new card, the ‘UK Global Health Insurance Card’ (GHIC). The new card will be very similar to EHIC in that it will cover existing illnesses as well as routine maternity care and emergencies.
Can I still drive in Europe after Brexit?
From 1 January 2021, the majority of UK drivers are still able to use their existing driving licence in the EU for short trips.
There are some exceptions to this in certain EU countries though, where an International Driving Permit (IDP) will be needed. You can check the UK Government’s guidance on driving abroad for further details here.
Can I take my pet to Europe after Brexit?
From 1 January 2021, taking your pet on holiday with you to the EU has become a bit more complicated, and you’ll need to plan ahead at least four months in advance.
If you’re bringing a dog or cat (or ferret!), you’ll need to get them microchipped. You’ll also have to vaccinate them against rabies, then send a blood sample to an EU-approved testing lab at least 30 days after vaccination. If the blood test is all clear, you’ll then need to get an animal health certificate (AHC) from a vet. And you’ll also have to wait at least three months from the date the blood sample was taken before you can travel with your pet. Your pet will also have to receive treatment for tapeworm if you’re travelling to Ireland, Malta, Norway or Finland.
Find out more details on how to take your pet into the EU on the UK government website.
Will I be able to use my mobile phone in Europe after Brexit?
Yes, but it might cost more. Guaranteed free mobile roaming in the EU ended on 1 January 2021, so mobile operators may start to add on fees for using your phone in another country. Check with your provider to see how much (if anything) they will charge.
Your mobile phone operator has to warn you if you amass data charges of £45, so you won’t build up hundreds of pounds of data fees without knowing about it. But it’s likely to be more expensive to use your phone in Europe after 1 January.
It might take a little while to get used to the new Brexit passport rules, but we’ll make sure to keep you up to date with any new developments.
You’ll need at least six months left on your passport when you travel to the EU after 1 January 2021. And your passport must have been issued less than nine years and six months ago.
No. You’ll only need a new one if you want to go to the EU and your old passport has less than six months left on it, or if it’s more than nine and a half years old.
You won’t need a visa if you’re going on holiday for less than 90 days. But you might need a visa if you’re travelling for business or study.
No, travelling to the United States will remain the same. But bear in mind any travel restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.
You can go on holiday to Spain for up to 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa. But remember Spain is part of the Schengen area, so any trips to other Schengen countries will count towards the 90-day total.
Yes, travel to Ireland will remain unaffected by the new Brexit passport rules.
Yes. Business travellers might need to apply for a visa when visiting the EU, and they may require documentation for taking goods with them. Check the government website for a list of the extra requirements.
British nationals will still be able to live and work in Ireland without a visa after 1 January 2021.
Duty-free shopping on alcohol and tobacco will be allowed when visiting EU countries after 1 January 2021. It might also take longer to go through passport control, depending on what agreement the UK government makes with the EU.
No, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will no longer be valid for UK nationals from 1 January 2021. Make sure you have adequate travel insurance before you visit Europe.
Yes, but you’ll need to buy an international driving permit (IDP) from the Post Office, and you’ll also have to carry a green card to prove you have vehicle insurance.
Yes, but you’ll need to get an animal health certificate from your vet first. You’ll also need to vaccinate your cat or dog against rabies and get it microchipped, and the whole process takes around four months.
Yes, but free mobile roaming ended on 1 January 2021.
Want to know more?
Check out the articles below for more essential travel information:
- Coronavirus travel advice
- Why travel planning is more important than ever
- Is it safe to travel?
- Everything you need to know about flexible travel
This page was last updated on 16 December 2020. To our knowledge, the information on this page was correct at the time of publication.