Citizens Advice Salford

Weekly Advice Column:

Brexit for British Citizens:

With the end of the transition period, as of January 1st there are lots of changes to the way holders of British passports can travel into and around the European Union (EU). Until the UK’s actual leaving of the Union, British nationals enjoyed free movement and rights to live and work across Europe. This has now ended.

The most immediate changes relate to travel, and of these, these are the areas you need to be most aware of. Don’t forget that these changes generally also apply to a number of other countries that have special arrangements through the EU – such as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland.


For European Union travel a British passport must now have at least six months left on its validity. It should be less than 10 years old, even if it does have 6 months validity. This applies from the day of travel. This does not apply to Ireland.

Entering other countries:

British passport holders are now subject to full border control when entering an EU country other than Ireland. This means you may not be able to use the express (blue) channel, you may be asked the reason for your visit – which will need to comply with visa permissions, you may have to show a return or onward travel ticket, and you may be required to show that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay.


If you are a tourist, for the time being, you do not need to apply for a visa to visit the EU. You can only stay in the EU (other than Ireland) for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. For Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania – these countries do not count the time spent in other EU countries, whereas the others do.

If you intend to travel into the EU (other than Ireland) to work or to study, then you need to check that individual country’s visa requirements.

If you are professionally qualified, where previously your qualification would be recognised across the EU this will no longer be the case. You can check whether you need a professional qualification on the European Commission’s Regulated Professions Database (REGPROF). You should also check to see if there are languages requirements – which is normally the case for people outside of the EU.

There are different rules for lawyers and auditors. You will need to check the guidance issued by the government on the website below. 

Workers will need to check any indemnity insurance is still valid.

Health Care: 

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or the to be introduced Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) will be valid. If you’re travelling to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, you should get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover. Make sure it covers any pre-existing conditions that were previously covered by your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). It is not clear yet what the new GHIC will cover – especially when it comes to pre-existing conditions. All travellers should make sure they have adequate health care cover.

Taking food and drink into EU countries:

You can no longer take meat, milk or products containing these into an EU country. There are allowances for certain amounts of powdered infant milk, or pet food required for medical reasons.

Taking plant and plant products into EU counties:

You will need a certificate to allow you to take certain plants and plant products into the EU – you need to check the commission’s website.


If you are taking your own vehicle you will need an international insurance (Green) card. UK motor insurance by law includes provision to drive in the EU – but you will need to have a green card to prove you hold this insurance. You may have to show this green card at the border, or if you are involved in an accident. You may need extra cards if you are towing another vehicle etc. You get this card from your insurer – and should allow six weeks for it to be processed.

You may also need an International Driving License Permit depending on which country you are visiting, and what kind of license you hold. Take particular care if you only have a paper license. Check with the Embassy of the country you are travelling to.

You will also now need ‘GB’ stickers for your vehicle.

Pet travel: allow at least one month to arrange.

You can no longer use the existing pet passport scheme. Instead, you will need an animal health certificate (AHC) for your pet. Allow at least one month to arrange this and the relevant vaccinations.

Mobile phone roaming:

The right to free phone roaming has ended. You will need to check this with your phone service provider before you travel. There is some continued data charge protection whereby for data use over the value of £45 you need to opt in. Check with your provider.

Travel interruption rights:

The basic set of consumer protection rights around EU travel disruption have all been written into UK law, so these will, for the time being, all remain.

If you have additional travel insurance, you should check to see whether this is still valid.

You continue to be protected (under UK law) if you buy a package holiday and the company goes out of business.

Don’t forget that if you use a credit card and the value of the purchase was over £100 (but under £30,000) you have additional rights to be repaid by the credit card provider. 

Before you travel check the Government website – ‘passports, travel and living abroad’.

Don’t forget that because of the current COVID-19 Crisis there are a number of other significant restrictions to travel.

Tom Togher

January 6, 2021.