All the things that will change about travelling to the EU in 2021

Friday, 11th December 2020, 3:25 pm
Updated Friday, 11th December 2020, 3:25 pm

The Brexit transition period will come to an end on 31 December 2020, with new rules coming into effect from 1 January 2021.

For those intending to travel to Europe next year, there are numerous changes due to come into place that you should be aware of after Britain’s departure from the EU.

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Here’s what you need to know.

EHIC no longer valid

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) currently entitles British citizens to state-provided medical treatment if they become ill or have an accident while in an EU country. This will longer be valid next year.

UK state pensioners living in the EU before 31 December 2020, and UK students already on EU courses, will still be able to use their EHIC cards, but they will need to apply for new cards.

Fast track lanes

Next year, you will no longer be able to use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes.

You may also need to show your return ticket when you arrive at an EU country and could be asked to show you have enough money for your stay.

Driving in Europe

You may need extra documents in order to be able to drive in EU countries, including an international driving permit or a ‘green card’ from your insurance provider.

If intending to drive in the EU, you will need to take your driving licence, log book (V5C) and valid insurance documents.

Pet passport scheme will end

The current pet passport scheme in England, Scotland and Wales, alongside Northern Ireland's Pet Travel Scheme, will no longer apply from 1 January 2021.

The new rules have not been finalised, but the government has applied for England, Scotland and Wales to join a list of countries which will allow dogs, cats and ferrets to enter the EU in a similar way as they presently do.

Mobile phone roaming charges

From the beginning of next year, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU - as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway - is no longer guaranteed.

You will need to check with your mobile provider to see if you could be facing extra charges when travelling to the EU.

However, the government has passed a number of laws to protect customers, including a £45 per month cap on using mobile data abroad, and requirements for customers to be notified when they've reached 80 per cent and 100 per cent of their data allowance.

Restricted travel to the EU

Currently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, travellers from most non-EU countries cannot visit, unless for essential reasons. After the Brexit transition period ends, the UK will no longer be treated as part of the EU, which means the same rules could then apply.

Countries not part of the European Union, but still allowed to travel to countries in the EU, are currently those with very low coronavirus infection rates, such as New Zealand.

However, the EU could choose to exempt the UK from these rules.