It’s that time of year, after the January blues, when everybody is thinking about planning their Holidays. However, this year is Brexit year and the word uncertainty is written everywhere. So, if you are going to book a flight abroad you better buckle your belt tightly.
There are already many questions with no answers and many more that will start emerging if we fly into Brexit with no deal. Even if the UK agrees on a deal with the European Union, we still don’t know what guarantees we will have to avoid unforeseen events and enjoy our travel experience from the UK into the EU or from the EU to the UK.
- Will our flight company be allowed to fly between the UK and the EU?
- Is our driving licence going to be valid?
- What about car insurance, travel insurance, etc.?
- Is the European Health Card going to be effective?
- What about mobile contracts? Are we going to be charged roaming again?
- What if I have to make a complaint? What authorities will we have to address?
The official UK government page (GOV.UK) offers some advice on what will happen. According to their guidance, there are, as we know, two potential situations “deal or no deal”. If the UK leaves the European Union with the Withdrawal Agreement (proposed by Theresa May and being revised at the moment) all travelling rights will be the same as they are now until December 2020.
However, in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, after 29 March 2019
if you booked your holidays with a UK based Tour Operator, your rights will be protected by the UK insolvency protection rules. EU travellers to the UK will not be protected by the European Union but by UK relevant authorities. If your holiday package is run by an EU business/Tour Operator, UK travellers should seek protection from the law of the country concerned. Flights between the UK and the EU might not be able to operate without further agreements. Airlines from the EU will not be allowed to operate within the UK and airlines from the UK will not be able to operate within the EU.
I guess now we really need to check what country laws apply to the Tour Operator we are booking our holiday with. We will need to read lengthy small prints and get a bit savvier about legislation on holiday packages, refunds, rights, duties, etc. Not a simple task for the everyday holiday-maker.
With regards to driving licence, again the UK government advise that after the 29th March in case of no-deal your driving licence will not be recognized in the EU unless the UK Government put some new arrangements (and vice versa for EU travellers coming to the UK). Until such arrangements are in place, UK and EU drivers will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU when visiting. In the UK at the moment you can get an IDP from the Post Office paying £5.50 (In Spain 10.30 Euros). But there are 3 types of IDP and different countries require different types of IDP. It will also be necessary to carry a Green Card with regard to insurance cover. The special case will be the UK and EU residents living near the borders between the UK and the EU.
The European Healthcare Card will continue to be effective until 2020 if there is a deal. In the event of no-deal, you won’t be able to use it (unless new plans are in place). Therefore UK tourists visiting the European Union will have to make sure they have sufficient and appropriate Travel Insurance to cover private health costs, likewise for European tourists visiting the UK.
Passports will still be valid under a deal, but again in case of no-deal British passports are at risk of being considered expired. And of course, British passport holders will not be entitled to use the fast-track queues for the European Union any longer. If you are travelling with a European passport the issue will be on the way back entering the UK. If you are from a country where an Identity Card is used as a travelling document, you won’t be able to use it to enter the UK anymore. You will have to use a passport. Also, you might need some form of a light VISA going in or out of the UK from the EU (although proposals are in place so that no VISA is needed for periods below 90 days). However, you might have to confirm that you have enough funds for the duration of your stay.
Surcharge-free roaming will not be guaranteed in case of no-deal after March 2019. The UK government, however, says that they will legislate so that a cap or financial limit is applied on mobile data while being abroad. However, some mobile operators might decide to continue their free-roaming benefits. So, until you are really sure of what your mobile operator charges are abroad, the safest thing will be to turn off your data roaming on your mobile when you are in the UK if you are a European traveller or in the European Union if you are a UK traveller.
My head is already spinning reading through all the possible changes for the UK and EU holiday-makers if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal. But Brexit doesn’t stop there. It is going to impact all aspects of our daily life for the British and many European citizens.
I am a great fan of the series Star Trek and I used to love the Opening Monologue narrated by Captain Picard (played by Patrick Stewart): Space, the final frontier. Indeed, I am starting to feel that Brexit’s mission might be to explore strange new worlds to seek out new life and perhaps why not even new civilizations. But unquestionably Brexit is going to boldly go where no one has gone before… Are you ready for this voyage?