What you need to know about holidays after Brexit.
While political uncertainty over Brexit continues, life must go on as normal for British families – and that includes making holiday plans.
The UK is due to leave the EU next month, right before the Easter holidays.
We still don’t know how Britain will leave the EU – with a deal, or without.
Little will actually change.
If the UK leaves with Theresa May’s deal, then there will be a transition period until the end of 2020, in which little will change.
If not, there will be even more questions about what’s happening after 29 March.
Here’s what we currently know about how holidays abroad might be affected by Brexit.
Am I okay to book a holiday in the EU?
You might be wondering if it is safe to book at all, given the dire warnings from some about what could happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), which offers advice to travellers and represents travel agents and tour operators, advises: “There is nothing to suggest that you will not be able to continue with your holiday plans after 29 March. Even in a no-deal scenario, the European Commission has said flights to and from the UK will still be able to operate.”
It says that those who book a package holiday with a UK-based travel company will have “the most comprehensive consumer protection” as they will continue to be covered by Package Travel Regulations, which entitle them to a full refund if the holiday cannot be provided.
“The best way to protect your holiday is to book a package. It is the travel provider’s responsibility to make sure your holiday is provided and to offer an alternative or refund if it cannot be delivered,” ABTA says.
And as for travelling by plane, the government has said that “flights should continue” as they do today, if there is no deal, adding: “Both the UK and EU want flights to continue without any disruption.”
What documents will I need?
The main question most people want to know is whether or not they will need a visa to get to Europe.
You can breathe a sigh of relief – to some extent – as the European Commission has said UK travellers won’t need a visa even if there’s no deal, ABTA said.
But British people will need to apply for – and buy – a visa waiver to travel to member states after Brexit whether there’s a deal or not.
The ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), which will cost €7 (£6.30) and be valid for three years, won’t come into force until 2021 though. It’s not just for the UK but many non-EU countries.
If there is a Brexit deal, EU citizens and UK nationals will continue to be able to travel freely with a passport or identity card until the end of the transition period in 2020.
When that ends, the European Commission has offered visa-free travel for UK nationals coming to the EU for a short stay, as long as the UK offers the same in return.
But nothing changes in terms of travel to and from the Republic of Ireland. British and Irish citizens will be able to continue to travel freely within the Common Travel Area – the UK, Ireland, the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey, the government says.
Will there be bigger queues at the airport?
It might be a bit too soon to say “without knowing whether it’s a deal or no deal”, says ABTA.
The government says from 29 March, if there’s no deal, most people won’t experience any difference to security screening at airports.
The European Commission has proposed measures to avoid extra security or screening of passengers from the UK when they’re transferring to onward flights at EU airports.
Do I have to get a new passport?
No deal? If the UK leaves without a deal, then new rules will apply. You’ll have to check if your current passport meets those rules and renew it if not.
Basically, British passport holders will be considered third country nationals as part of the Schengen agreement. Other third country nationals are those from places that aren’t in the EU or European Economic Area, like the US and Australia.
So according to the Schengen Border Code, passports from these countries have to have been issued within the previous 10 years and be valid for another three months from the date you plan to depart the Schengen area, which makes up 26 European states.
But because you’re allowed to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days, the government is advising you make sure your passport is valid for at least another six months after your arrival.
ABTA advises people to check their passports now to see how long they’re valid for.
If there’s a deal, your passport will be valid until its date of expiry for anywhere within the EU.