Brexit What’s Changing?: Post Brexit Travel to the EU

In the second in our mini series about life after Brexit, we look at travel, both for tourism and business after 31st December 2020. 

We are edging ever closer to the point at which we will know whether a comprehensive deal has been agreed between the UK and EU to cover us from the end of the transition period on 31st December 2020. As it currently stands (end of November) there is no deal and so we are being encouraged to plan as if this will be the case from 1st January 2021.

On this basis, there are a few things you will need to check and be aware of if planning any post Brexit Travel. In particular, the nature of your travel i.e. for business or tourism will likely determine differences in the rules.


Whilst part of the EU, travel to Ireland will not change from 1 January 2021. You’ll also be able to work in Ireland in the same way as before. So, in relation to any other rules or recommendations shown below, these do not apply to business or tourism travel to Eire.

Passports and Visas

At present it is expected that visas will not be required for tourism travel to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Tourist travel is defined as short trips whereby your total time in other countries does not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.

With reciprocal tourism playing a major part in EU and UK economies, one area they can agree on is that this should not be impeded by additional paperwork and a delayed application process.

There are a few exceptions to this rule however when travelling to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.

If you are considering a longer stay or you are travelling for business (going to meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity), and touring art or music) you may need to apply for a visa and request clearance to carry out work in the relevant country. Full details, by country, can be found here.

Please also be aware that if you are travelling for business, your qualifications may no longer be recognised in the destination country and this may have a knock-on effect to any business insurance you carry.

Insurance and Healthcare

Travel insurance policies will be changing and there is no guarantee that an existing policy will not have had the definitions or terms updated so it is recommended that you either take out a new policy for the period after 1st January 2021 or check with your current provider whether you are still covered.

As it stands, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020. This card ensures that you are covered for emergency hospital treatment in EU countries. If the terms of a potential deal do not extend this, then you will definitely need to revisit your travel insurance to ensure it covers you for medical treatment. Otherwise you will be required to pay for treatment locally.

As noted above, Professional indemnity insurance for business could be impacted by revised trade rules and entry rules. You should speak to your insurance provider and either revise your cover or be aware of any limitations that may come into force if your professional qualifications are no longer recognised and/or you are found to be working in another country without having complied with the entry requirements for business/work.

Driving Abroad

If you are planning on taking your car on holiday with you then as long as you have a full driving licence appropriate to the class of vehicle you are driving, there is no need to take any additional or enhanced driving tests or apply for an EU licence. However, you should still check with your vehicle insurers, not least of all to ensure that you are covered for the relevant country you will be visiting. You may be required to have a green card or additional paperwork with you or have the trip noted on your insurance record.

As ever, you should be aware of the safety requirements in the destination country. Most countries will require you to carry a minimum set of safety equipment such as hi-vis clothing, warning triangle, breathalyser and spare/replacement bulbs.

Should the EU and UK manage to agree a post deal, some or all of this advice may change. You should check the current advice on the website before you plan any post Brexit Travel.