What Does Brexit Mean for Travellers?

What Does Brexit Mean for Travellers?
Learn the long-term changes in travel that will come about due to Brexit Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Even though travellers from the UK and EU have nothing to fear in the short term, there might be plenty to worry about in the long term

Uttara Gangopadhyay
February 11 , 2020
02 Min Read

Following Brexit (Britain Exit, a popular term indicating the United Kingdom's seperation from the European Union), many things are set to change across the world, especially in the field of trade and commerce. For now, travellers between the UK and EU have little to worry about.  Travellers from non-European countries are not likely to see any change in the existing rules between their country and the UK.

European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss citizens can continue to travel to the UK for holidays or short-term trips, without needing a visa. Travellers need to show a valid passport or a national identity card if they are a citizen of either an EU country or from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland. There will be no change to travel document requirements this year.


According to the UK government, they may stop accepting national ID cards for entry to the UK for EEA and Swiss citizens after 2020 but the announcement will be made well in advance so that travellers do not face any problem.

A non-EEA family member of an EEA or Swiss citizen will be able to enter the UK as they do now until December 2020.

On the other hand, following the announcement by the European Parliament in April 2019 that UK citizens may travel visa-free on a short stay (90 days in any 180 days) within the borderless Schengen Area that covers most of western Europe, there will be no changes during the transition period (Feb 1 to Dec 31, 2021). During this period, UK citizens will not need a visa or have to follow the six-month validity of the passport or produce a return ticket.

The members of the Schengen area

If the UK joins the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), which is expected to come into effect next year or thereafter, according to media reports, then UK citizens will be able to travel into the Schengen area without a visa, as long as they pay €7. But travel experts believe the ETIAS waiver is likely to be dependent on the British Parliament offering a similar benefit to EU citizens using a similar electronic system.

Travel agencies fear disruptions in travel unless the UK and EU can enter into mutually beneficial rules related to travel between both areas. Separate rules might inconvenience travellers and also lead to crowding and delays at airports, ferry terminals, and border crossings. The issue of driving licences for travellers who take their cars also remains to be settled. As does the issue of whether those travelling from the UK to Europe have to take an International Driving Licence and fill in documents specific to the countries of their travel. Issues related to health insurance and international roaming facilities on mobile phones will have to be resolved. Rules for pet travel to the UK are also likely to change from January 1, 2021, depending on what category of the EU Pet Travel Scheme UK becomes part of.

However, travellers from outside of UK have something to cheer now. With the pound relatively weaker than what it was earlier, inbound tourism is likely to get a boost. But travel agencies warn a lot can change after 2021.  

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