Post-Brexit travel advice
30 Jan 2020, 12:32 by Nigel English
With the UK leaving the EU, many teachers are wondering how their school trips will be affected. We've gathered the relevant information to keep you in the loop.
Make sure that you and 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.
As group leader, make sure you have details of your accommodation booking and return journey printed out or available on your phone. This is because if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, Border officials may ask for evidence of “sufficient means of subsistence” for the group’s intended stay and return.
Allow plenty of time at the port or airport. In the short-term there could be some disruption caused by crowds and congestion and so we recommend you allow more time than usual at the ferry terminal or airport.
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.
Will the rules for passports change if we leave the EU without a deal?
Yes, the Government states that British citizens travelling to the EU after exiting the European Union will need at least 6 months when you travel to most EU countries.
It usually takes three weeks to renew a passport so we recommend that parents and teachers allow plenty of time to renew before the group’s planned travel date. Passport holders who do not meet these criteria may be denied entry to EU countries after Brexit.
There is currently no published advice relating to changes to collective passports for school groups.
What about EHIC cards?
School groups will not be able to use their EHIC cards to access state healthcare in most EU countries after Brexit.
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 before they travel. This page on the NHS website provides country by country information for travellers regarding healthcare arrangements.
EHIC cards are no substitute for travel insurance which is why all our tours automatically include comprehensive travel insurance which includes emergency healthcare. If any members of your group have a pre-existing medical condition, please check our insurance policy details here.
What about flights to and from the EU?
The UK government and European Commission have given reassurances that flights to and from the EU will continue as before. If you are travelling close to the Brexit date there may be some short lived disruptions and so we recommend that you allow some extra time at the airport.
Will there be any change to my Channel crossing?
The Channel Tunnel will be open and operating as usual after Brexit. Most ferry services sail and operate under international rules and so will not be affected by Brexit changes. Coach groups may experience a build-up of traffic around the ports but we will factor this into your itinerary.
Our school group is travelling by coach
Voyager School Travel owns a fleet of UK coaches and another small fleet registered in France. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK will join the Interbus agreement which allows UK coach companies to carry out “occasional services”, such as school trips to and from the EU.
Will it cost more to use my mobile phone in the EU?
Potentially, yes. The costs that EU mobile operators can charge UK operators for providing roaming services would no longer be regulated and so using a mobile phone in the EU may be more expensive after Brexit. 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.
Should I avoid travelling to the EU?
We believe that the benefits of a school trip outweigh any potential short-term disruption to your group’s travel arrangements.
And remember, one of the benefits of booking with a specialist tour operator is that we provide you with a safety net if things don’t go to plan. So, if your school trip has any unexpected travel disruptions, you can contact our 24-hour emergency line for back up. We will use our travel network and our local connections to provide you with ongoing support during the trip. And if your travel links are disrupted, as a tour operator, we will refund you the cost of any unused accommodation and missed excursions that have been booked through us.