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Brexit: how long can UK citizens holiday for in Europe now?

Brexit: how long can UK citizens holiday for in Europe now?
Image source: Getty Images


After nearly a year of talks, the UK and the EU finally struck a post-Brexit trade deal on Christmas Eve. We look at what this post-Brexit deal means for UK citizens going on holiday to Europe.

What were the rules for UK citizens holidaying in Europe before Brexit?

Before Brexit, you could essentially travel, live, go on holiday and even work anywhere within the EU without any special permits or visas. You could stay on holiday in any EU country for as long as you wanted to (though in some countries you might have been required to report your presence after staying for more than three months).

But as of 1 January 2021 (which is when the new post-Brexit deal kicked in), things have changed. While you can still go on holiday to EU countries, things are not as straightforward as before.

Do you need a new passport to travel to the EU now?

No. You can still use your current passport. But it needs to have at least six months left on it under the new rules. It will also have to be less than 10 years old (even if it has six months or more left).

If yours doesn’t meet the new requirements for travel to Europe, check out our guide on how to renew your passport online.

Rules for travel to Ireland will stay the same as they were before 1 January 2021.

Do you need a visa to travel to Europe?

The good news is that for now, you’ll not need a visa to travel to EU countries. But how long you can stay will change.

If you’re travelling to an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you’ll not need a visa for short holidays. You‘ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. However, if you wish to stay longer, then you will need to apply for a visa.

The rules are different for Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, your visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.

Once again for Ireland, the rules remain the same for UK citizens.

Something worth keeping in mind is that from 2022, the EU is planning to introduce a visa waiver scheme known as ETIAS (EU Travel Information and Authorisation System) which you’ll need to pay for to be allowed to enter EU countries.

The waiver will cost €7 (£6.33) and will be valid for up to three years. More information on this is available on the official ETIAS website.

What about EU citizens holidaying in the UK post Brexit?

EU, EEA and Swiss citizens will be able to travel to the UK for holidays and short trips without needing a visa even after Brexit. They can stay for up to six months in the UK and will have to apply for a visa if they wish to stay longer.

Visitors can enter using a national ID card or a valid passport (which must remain valid for the whole time they’re in the UK).

However, the government says that from 1 October 2021, EU, EU, EEA and Swiss visitors to the UK will not be able to use national ID cards to enter the country, though there will be some exceptions.

A few things to remember

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has put a halt on just about all international travel right now. Under the new lockdown rules, you can only travel abroad for essential purposes such as work. 

In addition, a number of countries have imposed travel bans on UK citizens due to fear of the new Coronavirus strain.

If you’re one of the lucky few who can still travel, whether it is to an EU country or elsewhere abroad, don’t forget to observe the rules. Wear a mask, wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing where possible.

And at a time when every penny counts, consider picking up a travel credit card that does not charge non-sterling transaction and cash withdrawal fees to save some money. Also, check out our practical tips for travelling Europe on a budget.

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