Travel to Europe is a little different now that we are no longer a Member of the European Union (EU), so it's important you plan early to make sure you have everything in place in time for your trip.
As well as reading through our guidance on the main changes below, it’s important to check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice for the destination you are visiting for country specific advice.
If you’re visiting Ireland, plus Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man, it’s worth noting that they are part of the Common Travel Area, which is a long-standing agreement that pre-dates EU membership. This means that the new passport rules and visa requirements outlined below don’t apply and some of the other changes may differ slightly. Do make sure you check the FCDO travel advice for Ireland for more detail.
If you have a British passport, it must be:
You can find the passport validity rules for the country you’re visiting by checking the FCDO’s advice and reading the entry requirements section. More information is available on ABTA’s passports page.
Passport stamping is expected to become fully automated in 2023 through the new Entry/Exit system (EES) to help process travellers quickly and efficiently. The new system is not yet in place and is unlikely to be until towards the end of 2023.
If you’re a British passport holder and going on holiday or travelling for business, you don’t currently need a visa for short trips to Europe. You can stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. If you’re a frequent traveller to the EU, you might find this calculator a helpful way to keep track of your visits.
In 2024, the EU is aiming to bring in a new visa waiver system, called ETIAS, which will be similar to the ESTA for travel to the US and be valid for three years. Once introduced, British passport holders travelling to the EU will need to apply and pay for an ETIAS, via an online system. This online system is not available for applications yet. More information on ETIAS can be found here.
If you’re planning to travel to the EU for longer than 90 days in a 180-day period, you will need to check the FCDO travel advice to find the visa requirements for the country you’re visiting.
If you are married to an EU citizen and are travelling with your spouse to or within the Schengen Area, you may be exempt from the 90/180-day rule for any period where you travel together. You should check with the country you are visiting before travel to confirm the paperwork that would be required. More information is available here.
If you have a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will be valid up to its expiry date (cards are valid for five years when issued). If your EHIC has expired, or you don’t have one, you can apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) instead of an EHIC. More details here.
As usual, you’ll also need to take out comprehensive travel insurance with sufficient healthcare cover, including cover for existing medical conditions and any activities you plan to do. ABTA has advice on finding the right travel insurance.
Rules around mobile data roaming have changed meaning you may face charges when using your phone in the EU, including for making calls, sending messages or using the internet. Check with your mobile phone provider for details.
The exact requirements for driving in the EU will vary slightly from country to country, so do make sure you check the FCDO travel advice for the destination(s) you’ll be driving through for country specific advice.
General rules to be aware of include:
UK car stickers – you will need a UK car sticker for your own car when driving in the EU.
UK Blue Badges can be used in some EU countries, plus Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Parking concessions vary in each country so it is important you check the details for your destination. More information can be found here. Using a Blue Badge in the European Union - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Driving permits – if you have a paper licence or your driving licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man you may need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries and Norway. These are available from the Post Office. If you have a card driving license, you do not require an IDP to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
Your pet passport will no longer be valid to travel to the EU or Northern Ireland and you will now need an Animal Health Certificate. Your pet will also need to be microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and dogs will need tapeworm treatment for travelling directly to Finland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway or Malta.
If you wish to take your pet abroad you should speak to your vet at least one month in advance to make sure you have these in place before you are due to travel.
Full details can be found at gov.uk.
When going through passport control, you may not be able to use the EU or EEA passport lanes and may need to join the lane for ‘third country' or ‘non-EU’ visitors instead. Your passport will be stamped by the border officer on entry and exit to make sure you’re complying with the 90-day visa-free limit for short stays. Some EU countries are currently rolling out an e-gate system to replace some of the manual passport checks.
You may also need to show a return ticket and that you have enough money for your stay.
You can’t take any meat, milk or any products containing these items into the EU. There are exceptions for powdered baby milk, baby food, or pet food required for medical reasons.
When returning from the EU to the UK, you can bring in a certain amount of goods without paying tax or duty. More details on this can be found at Gov.uk.
There are a few extra requirements for business travellers visiting the countries in the EU as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
If you’re travelling on business, for less than 90 days in a 180-day period such as attending a business meeting, you’ll be able to travel without a visa or work permit. If you’re planning to stay for more than 180 days, you’ll need to check the entry requirements and rules for the country you’re visiting to find out if you need a visa or work permit.
If you’re travelling with goods to the EU, you’ll need to ensure you’ve got the right documentation to take them with you and if you intend to sell the goods abroad, you’ll need to make a customs declaration.
You will also need to make a declaration if you take £10,000 or more in cash with you.
Other extra requirements to check are whether your professional qualifications will be recognised in the EU, what to do if you’re earning money in the EU and providing indemnity insurance for employees. For further information, visit here.
The UK Government also has advice for people travelling to the EU.