Brexit Travel News

  • Brexit travel questions

Checklist for school groups travelling to the EU after Brexit

In light of the current uncertainty, we want to help schools, parents and pupils prepare for their trip in the scenario of the UK not reaching a deal in time.

  1. Make sure every member of your group has a valid passport with at least 6 months left to run. The passport office has a handy online checker to determine whether you need to renew.
  2. Allow plenty of time at the port or airport. There may initially be short-term disruption caused by crowds and congestion and so we recommend you allow more time than usual at the ferry terminal or airport.
  3. Make sure you carry the details of your accommodation booking and return tickets for everyone in the group. If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, Border officials may ask for this as evidence of “sufficient means of subsistence” for the intended stay and return.

Will the rules for passports change if we leave the EU without a deal?

Yes, the rules for travel to most countries in Europe will change if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The Government states that British citizens travelling to the EU after 29 March 2019 will need

  • at least 6 months left on your passport when you travel to most EU countries
  • a passport that’s less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)

Teachers and pupils visiting the European countries in the Schengen area after 29 March 2019 should check the expiry date of their passport to make sure there will be at least 6 months validity remaining on the date of travel. Passport holders who do not meet these criteria, may be denied entry to these countries and should consider renewing their passport before travel in case of a ‘no deal’ scenario.

The new rules will apply for travel to countries in the Schengen Agreement which are: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. These EU countries are not in the Schengen area: Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Cyprus.

Will we need a visa to travel to the EU?

No, the European Commission has confirmed that British travellers will not need visas to visit the European Union on short stays, even if there is a no-deal Brexit. However, this will be reliant on the UK’s ongoing agreement to offer reciprocal visa-free access for EU citizens. Travel advice issued by the Commission says “The European Commission has proposed to the EU legislator to exempt UK nationals from visa requirements for short-term stays”.

What about EHIC cards?

The latest advice from the government states that travellers who intend to use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) must check what the arrangement is with the specific country they are visiting, as the card may not be valid after March 29 2019. Therefore, all schools must have travel insurance that covers any healthcare requirements needed in any country within the EU or outside. This is particularly advisable for travellers with a pre-existing or long-term health condition.

This page on the NHS website provides country by country information for travellers regarding healthcare arrangements.

What about flights to and from the EU?

If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no deal, UK and EU licensed airlines lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and EU. Thus, airlines would need to seek individual permissions to operate.

The government says it would envisage granting permission to EU airlines to continue to operate and that it would expect EU countries to reciprocate. The European Commission has previously acknowledged that a ‘bare bones’ agreement on air services would be desirable in the event of the UK leaving with ‘no deal’.

Therefore, even if there were some travel disruption to flights, it should be very short lived.

What about coach journeys to the EU?

Coach companies with a Standard International Operator’s Licence and a Community Licence are allowed to carry out “occasional services”, such as school trips, under the Interbus Agreement. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, EU countries may choose to recognise UK-issued operator licences and not require further authorisations - but this cannot be guaranteed. Therefore, the government is planning on joining the Interbus agreement as an independent member, which would mean school trips and holiday routes can run.

Will it cost more to use my mobile phone in the EU?

Potentially, yes. In the event that we leave the EU without a deal, the costs that EU mobile operators would be able to charge UK operators for providing roaming services would no longer be regulated. This would mean that using a mobile phone in the EU may be more expensive after March 2019. We recommend that teachers and parents check their roaming charges with their mobile operator before the trip. To avoid any unforeseen roaming charges, students will need to know how to turn off data roaming on their phones before entering the EU.