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Brexit and Travel

Ever since the referendum of June 2016 - when Britain collectively decided to leave the EU - we've all been wondering what the likely outcome of the whole affair will be and the possibly effects on our lives as UK citizens.

In this article, we're going to take a look at what we know at the moment regarding possible and likely outcomes of Brexit on British travel and tourism.

While it's hard to give conclusive answers, as no deal has yet been made, here are the likely effects Brexit will have on the average UK holidaymaker:

Impact of Brexit on British tourism

It's likely that if a 'no deal' scenario ensues in March 2019, then matters will get a little more complicated for British travellers when it comes to holidaying within the EU. For starters, there's the possibility that holidays to Europe will end up being more expensive as the value of the pound is likely to fall further after the leave.

As well as this, it's also possible that British tourists will have to start paying for emergency health care without the subsidies usually given to European health insurance card holders - as the EHIC is a provision currently only available to citizens of EU member states.

This will mean that having comprehensive travel insurance with adequate cover levels will be even more important for British tourists, as the absence of the EHIC will make getting emergency health care in Europe more expensive.

Will visas be needed after Brexit?

Despite all the scare talk that's been circulating surrounding Brexit and the impact on the economy and the free movement of people, the situation shouldn't drastically change for UK holidaymakers when it comes to taking a vacation in Europe.

A UK passport and citizenship is a useful thing to have and most countries (both in the EU and outside of it) welcome UK tourists who come to spend money in their economies. The UK citizens, much like citizens of the US or Canada will still be able to visit countries within the EU with relative ease, making use of the schengen area.

The Schengen zone is an area made up of 26 European states that have abolished border control at their mutual borders. Currently, citizens of certain countries like the US are able to stay within the schengen zone for up to 90 days within a period of 180 days, without having to apply for a visa.

It's likely that once the dust settles on Brexit, UK tourists will have the same rights to Europe as tourists from the US or Canada. For the average UK tourist, 90 days leaves more than enough time for short-term stays and vacations.

The situation becomes a little more complicated if you plan to live or work within the EU as a UK citizen for longer than the stated 90 days that the schengen zone allows. In these cases, it's best to seek professional legal advice.

Will flights be grounded after Brexit?

While it's not possible to say for certain whether flights will be grounded as a result of Brexit (largely because the UK and EU have yet to agree on many aspects of their future relationship) there is the possibility that a 'no-deal' brexit scenario could cause complications and disruptions to air traffic between the UK and EU countries.

Currently both UK and EU airlines operate under an 'open skies' agreement which allows airlines to fly to and from destinations without prior permission. Following Brexit, it's expected that airlines will lose this automatic right, but permission for flights will continue to be granted, however it's speculated that any delays in obtaining such permissions, could cause disruptions to flights.

The idea though that hundreds of flights will be grounded if no agreement is reached on March 29th 2019 is highly unlikely, as any refusal of flight permissions by an EU country is likely to have a ripple effect on it's own economy and interests.

Will UK driving licenses be valid in the EU after Brexit?

Currently, drivers with a UK issued driving license can drive freely within Europe without any problem. However, depending on the outcome of Brexit, it could become necessary for UK drivers to obtain an international driving permit as they would for other countries outside the EU, in order to legally drive within the EU. The current cost of an IDP is £5.50

What will happen to roaming charges after Brexit?

Since being scrapped back in June 2017, the absence of roaming charges has made using your phone a whole lot easier when travelling through Europe. This could sadly however be set to change in the near future, since the EU regulation prohibiting roaming charges will no longer apply to UK providers.

We can be sure however that the current freedom brought by no roaming charges will continue to be enjoyed by Brits in Europe until December 31st 2020, when the Brexit transition period ends.

After that, the answer to whether roaming charges will be brought back will depend on the extent of the deal agreed upon by that time.

How long will it take for Britain to leave the EU?

While the official date for Britain's exit from the European union is set for March 29th 2019, in practice, it's likely to take a lot longer before we start to see the effects of the move on the economy, travel and tourism.

At present, there is the possibility that Britain could remain in practice part of the EU (being subject to EU policies on tax and immigration) at least until the year 2020 or until both sides can reach a favourable agreement. That means that for UK holidaymakers, little is likely to change in the near future.


Holiday Extras Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered address: Ashford Road, Newingreen, Kent CT21 4JF. Company number 01693250.

Holiday Extras is underwritten by Travel Insurance Facilities plc which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered address: 2nd Floor, 1 Tower View, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent, ME19 4UY. Company number 03220410.