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.

It’s also important you check the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) advice for the destination you are visiting, including the latest health advice and any Covid-19 entry requirements. ABTA’s #ReadySteadyTravel hub also has lots of help and guidance. 

What you need to know about travelling to the EU  

Passport rules

If you have a British passport, it can’t be more than 10 years old when entering the EU and most places will require you to have at least three months left on your passport on the date you depart from your destination. 

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. 

Visas

If you are 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. 
 

Health insurance cards

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.
 

Using your mobile phone abroad

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.
 

Driving in the EU

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.
 

Taking your pet abroad

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.
 

Border control 

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. 
 

Items you can take in and out of the EU

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
 

Business travel requirements

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.
 

Future changes

Passport stamping is expected to become fully automated in 2023 through the new Entry/Exit system (EES) to help process travellers quickly and efficiently.

By the end of 2023, 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.