You can’t have failed to notice that Friday marked the day that the UK finally left the European Union, more than three years after the 2016 referendum took place.

We’re now in an eleven month transition period that will run through to the end of 2020 which means that a large number of things will pretty much stay the same for the remainder of the year and that is largely the case when it comes to travel.

Should you have a holiday to the EU - or to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein - already booked for 2020 then it will be business as usual in terms of how you travel, but if you are looking to secure a holiday in 2021 and beyond, that is when things may start to change.

During the transition period, the UK government will continue to hold talks with the EU in regards to the future relationship between the two parties and whilst those talks could in theory go on beyond the end of this year, that move has already been discounted by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Because a final agreement on the nature of the relationship between the UK and the European Union has yet to be finalised, there are a number of question marks about exactly what will happen when we reach 1 January 2021.

What that means is that if you are booking a holiday for a date beyond that date, your rights may change beyond those currently in place depending on the outcome of the negotiations that will be taking place in the coming months.

The government will continue to update its website when it comes to the impact that Brexit will have on travel once the transition period ends, but here is how things currently stand.

Passports, Border Checks & Visas:

You don’t need to get a new passport simply because of the fact that Brexit has now taken place, and your existing passport will remain valid with the same rules in place throughout the transition period.

What will change however is if you need to renew your passport, with new blue passports set to be phased in during the year ahead instead of the burgundy ones that have been commonplace for many years.

If you plan to travel to an EU country after 1 January 2021, your passport must have at least six months left on it and must also be less than ten years old - even if it has six months or more left on it.

Currently, anyone who travels from the UK to an EU member state can do so without the need for a visa and you will be able to continue travelling freely throughout the transition period.

Once that transition period draws to a close, anyone from the UK will be able to travel to the EU for leisure purposes without the need for a visa, providing that they will only be visiting for up to 90 days in any 180 day period. The rules for those looking to work or study will be different however, with the exact requirements differing from country to country.

Whilst the Republic of Ireland will remain part of the EU, there will be no change when it comes to travel, with the rules unchanged if you are visiting the Common Travel Area - which also includes the likes of the Isle of Man and Jersey.

During the transition period there will be no additional border checks in place as you arrive in EU countries, so airport queues should not be any longer than those that you already face.

Even though Brexit has now happened and we are no longer part of the European Union, you will still be able to travel through the gates for EU passports until the end of the year. What happens beyond that time will all come down to the outcome of the discussions that will now take place between the government and the EU in terms of freedom of movement.


You should always ensure that you have travel insurance in place when heading overseas which will cover you in the event that you require any medical attention when you are on holiday.

Currently, people travelling to EU countries are able to make use of the European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC, which entitles you to state-provided healthcare when in the EU - in the same way you can make use of the NHS when at home.

The EHIC, which covers both new and existing medical conditions, will continue to work in the same way through the transition period.

It is currently unknown what impact Brexit will have on the system beyond the end of 2020 so if you are booking for 2021, then ensuring you have the correct insurance will be particularly key.

Driving Abroad:

If you plan to hire a car overseas, nothing will change in EU countries through the transition period although exactly what the rules will be from 2021 is not yet known.

You may need to invest in an International Driving Permit, which is already required to drive in some non-EU nations, and if you are taking your own car, may need an insurance 'green card' as well as the usual GB sticker.

You should also check from nation to nation about what you need to carry in your car if you are driving your own vehicle. In France for example, a warning triangle and reflective jacket must be carried by law.

Mobile Phones:

As things stand, people heading to the EU from the UK benefit from free mobile roaming charges but what will happen beyond the transition period will depend on the individual network providers.

One thing that is already known however is that a law change will mean you don’t run up a bill of more than £45 for data charges. Once you reach that limit, you will only be able to spend more by opting in with your mobile supplier.


You will continue to get protection if you book your holiday with a recognised company that benefits from ABTA and ATOL protection regardless of the outcome of talks throughout the transition period. Paying by credit card adds an additional layer of protection whilst you can also add supplier failure to your travel insurance.


Duty free shopping hasn’t applied to people travelling in the EU for more than 20 years, with special prices only available to those travelling to other areas of the world.

Nothing will change during the transition period but beyond that is currently unclear as it will all come to down the outcome of the negotiations between the UK and the EU.

Should a customs deal be agreed than the rules may well stay as they are, meaning that you will still only benefit from VAT-free savings if travelling outside the union.