Travelling in Europe post Brexit. Passports and EHIC cards
07 January 2021

Travelling in Europe post Brexit. What’s changed?

updated 30 July 2021

We understand that your travel plans may be on hold due to the current Covid lockdown restrictions, but it’s best to be prepared for when you plan your next overseas trip.

Following the Brexit talks and transition period, the United Kingdom now has a new trade deal in place with the EU.  As well as trade in goods, this has implications if you’re travelling or driving in the EU and other parts of Europe. Our invaluable tips will help to ensure that you’re suitably covered on your travels, so you can concentrate on enjoying your trip in the European Union and mainland Europe.

The implications of Brexit on travelling to the EU

You may need to do extra things before you travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, such as:

  • check your passport
  • get travel insurance that covers your healthcare
  • check you have the right driving documents

Passports: Check your renewal date

You may need to renew your British passport earlier than expected. You should renew your passport if, on the day you travel, your passport either has less than 6 months left or is more than 10 years old.

These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.

You do not need visas for short trips.

If you’re a tourist, you do not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

You can check each country’s travel advice page for information on how to get a visa or permit on the Government’s webpage “Foreign travel advice”.  

Healthcare: Check you’re covered

Your existing European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) will be valid if you’re travelling to an EU country.

However after 1 January 2021 new UK-issued EHICs will only be available to UK students studying in the EU, some British State Pensioners who live in the EU and their families and EU nationals in the UK. The UK Government will soon be replacing the EHIC with a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). You don’t need to apply for a GHIC if you already have an EHIC. Once your EHIC has expired, you’ll be able to replace it with a GHIC.

Beware of unofficial websites, which may charge if you apply through them. An EHIC or GHIC is free of charge.

Green cards and GB stickers for motorists 

If you are taking your vehicle outside of the UK you will need to obtain a Green card if the UK is no longer part of the free circulation area.  A green card proves you have the necessary motor insurance that you need to drive abroad.  

The Department of Transport says UK motorists should carry ‘Green Cards’ as proof of insurance cover when driving in the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Serbia and Andorra from 1 January 2021 to until 1 August 2021, including in Ireland.  From 2 August 2021 you will not need a green card to drive in these countries.

Your motor insurance provider will provide you with a green card, if you ask for one but do make sure you allow enough time for this.  The Association of British Insurers (ABI) recommends you contact your provider about a month before you travel to request one.  Check your motor insurance policy carefully as you may find that in certain accident situations your UK insurance may not be valid.

More information can be found in our post: "Be Prepared for Driving in Europe after Brexit"

Entering EU countries

Be prepared at border control, you may need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay
  • use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing

COVID-19 travel guidance

International travel is increasingly restricted. In the UK, different rules apply in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Please refer to the current advice on travel restrictions during the covid-19 pandemic and lockdown rules on the government’s webpage: “Travel advice: coronavirus (COVID-19)

General travel insurance advice

Taking out suitable travel insurance is still as relevant regardless of EU membership or trade deals.

A good insurance policy will cover your organisation for cancelling or cutting a trip short under certain circumstances outside of your control, so it is best to have it in place from the outset. Therefore ensure that you organise your insurance before arranging or paying for anything else.  

Always check the conditions and exclusions of your group’s travel insurance policy.  Make sure that all the activities that your group are undertaking are included and detail these to your broker to ensure the most appropriate cover is in place. 

Pre-existing health problems can limit cover on many travel policies so also make sure that you are aware of individuals requirements and that these are detailed specifically where necessary. 

Finally, check that your organisation’s equipment is covered as well as your group’s personal belongings.

Further information

You can find more information on the following websites and webpages: 

The UK Government’s website:


Our other blog posts: