Brexit Day is upon us. At 11pm on Friday, the UK will officially leave the European Union. And while not much is actually happening (the government still has a year to negotiate some sort of trade deal), it does bring about questions. Namely – amid all the political fog – how will Brexit affect travel in Europe?
Passports, Visas, Driver's Licences
For now, the only major change you can expect is the colour of your passport. Blue passports will be phased in over the next few months, with all new applicants issued blue passports by mid-2020. The government has confirmed that there will be no change to existing rules on passports, driver's licences, and European Health Insurance cards. Free movement will continue for now, and we won't know for certain how that will look in 2021 until after a deal has been reached.
It's possible that airport queues will get a little muddled over the next few months as people query whether they're actually in or out of the EU and where they should stand. In European airports, there are two queues at immigration; one for EU citizens and one for non-EU citizens. From 1 February, travellers with a UK passport can still use the EU queue. Border checks won't change during the transition period. After 31 December that's all likely to change when UK citizens become third-country nationals in the EU.
One of the most recent perks afforded to EU travellers is 'free' mobile roaming. In 2017, additional charges on mobile services abroad were slashed by the EU and calls, texts and data services are now charged at domestic rates. Travellers on a UK passport can still enjoy this well after Brexit but again, limits are likely to be imposed with a new trade deal.
Pets will still be able to travel within the EU with their current UK-issued passports. If you're planning a trip this year and your pet doesn't have a passport, you'll need to visit your vet. Pets must be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies, tested for tapeworm and be at least 15 weeks old before setting off.
No, you can't buy cheap bottles of booze in the airport duty-free if you're travelling within the EU. Rules on goods coming in and out of the UK remain the same for now.
Rules also remain unchanged for EU citizens visiting the UK during the transition period. For more information, see here.