Travelling after Brexit: everything you need to know

Danielle Petch

Now that the Brexit transition period is over, there are new rules in place that those travelling to the EU from Great Britain should be aware of. 

We understand our pet sitting community may have some questions about what these changes mean, which is why we’ve collated a summary of the changes and how this may affect you, below. 

Trusted tip: always make sure to check the UK government website for the latest and most up-to-date guidance before you travel: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021.

Additionally, as the situation around coronavirus continues to evolve, it’s important that you follow the latest advice from your local authorities’ guidance and health advisories, especially while restrictions and advice are still subject to change. You can view our guidance and resources hub here.

Travelling from GB to the EU after 1 January 2021

As of 31 December 2020, the UK is no longer considered a member of the EU. If you are travelling to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, here are some key points to keep in mind: 

  • Check your passport: if you’re travelling to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, you’ll need to ensure you have at least 6 months left on your passport, and that it less than 10 years old. These rules do not apply for travel to Ireland.  
  • Healthcare: currently, EHIC cards will be valid until their expiry. If your EHIC card has expired, you can apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). This gets you state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost (or sometimes for free). Both GHIC and EHIC cards can be used for travel to an EU country, but if you’re travelling to Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, you’ll need travel insurance with healthcare cover.
  • Border control: you may need to show a return or onward ticket for your journey, and show you have enough money to cover all your expenses. GB residents will also be required to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing at border control, and will no longer be able to use the EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes.
  • Visas: you won’t need a visa for short trips taken as a tourist, but may do if you are travelling for certain business purposes. Find out more about how long you can stay in the EU and travelling for business below. 

How long can I stay in the EU? 

You can stay in an EU country (and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland) for a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period.

The rules are slightly different for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania — they each have their own separate 90-day limits and will not use up your 90-day allowance for other EU countries. You can still travel to and work in Ireland in the same way as before 1 January 2021.

It's worth keeping in mind that you'll no longer be able to take certain foodstuffs into the EU, too. This includes meat, milk or products containing them, however, certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons are exempt. Check the full list of rules here

Travelling for business

While tourists will not require a visa for short trips to the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, if you are travelling for certain business purposes (listed below), or planning to stay for longer than 90 days in a 180-day period, you may need a visa, work permit or other documentation.

  • Transferring a UK branch of a company to a branch in a different country, even for a short period of time
  • Carrying out contracts to provide a service to a client in another country in which your employer has no presence
  • Providing services in another country as a self-employed person

You will also need to make a customs declaration if you take goods with you to sell abroad or use for business. 

You can check the entry requirements of the country you are visiting to find out if you require a visa or not here

Pet sitting

The changes to how long you are allowed to stay in the EU will mostly affect house and pet sitters who travel or sit full-time. These new restrictions should be taken into account when planning or accepting house sits.

House and pet sitting can occasionally be misinterpreted as work. While you’ll still need to follow the new rules and restrictions around tourist travel, keep in mind you’re visiting for an enriching experience rather than for work, having been invited to stay by a member of our community.

Pet travel

If you’re travelling with your pet after 1 January 2021, there are new rules in place and you’ll no longer be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. Read our blog post here for everything you need to know about travelling with your pet post-Brexit.

Driving in the EU 

If you’re taking your own vehicle to an EU country, you will need both a green card (proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad, which you can obtain from your insurer) plus a GB sticker.

Additionally, if you have a paper driving licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man, you may also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries and in Norway.

Will I be charged for mobile phone roaming?

There is now no guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. You’ll need to check with your individual phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get after 1 January 2021. 

The good news is, a new law means you’re now protected against getting a mobile data charge above £45 without you knowing. Once you reach this £45 limit, you’ll need to manually opt in to continue using the internet while you’re abroad.

All the information sourced here has come from the UK's official government website, and is correct as of the date of publishing. For more information, we recommend visiting the UK government website here: https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

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