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The coincidence that the popular song ‘The Final Countdown’ is by the band ‘Europe’ is sheer irony at its absolute best. We all know the clock is now five minutes to midnight; Brexit is nigh, but what does it mean for travel from 1st January 2021? This past year’s media has been dominated by the world-changing Coronavirus pandemic (for good reason) and in doing so, removed the spotlight from Brexit and all of a sudden, the departure from the EU is now suddenly upon us. With the release of the COVID-19 vaccine, we are predicting a major surge in travel for 2021 with people making up for the year before with a well-deserved wellness holiday. However, before embarking on your next healthy getaway there are changes for UK citizens, keep reading for crucial travel information.
January 1st 2021 - Anything from this date onwards includes new travel regulations to EU countries.
From maroon to navy, the passport is changing but do you need to rush to get yours changed? In short, no, but it must meet certain criteria. Your current passport is still valid if it is less than ten years old and must have at least six months left until it expires, but it is always worth checking before travelling.
You can rest assured that there will be minimal changes to your airport experience. There will be no added security, but you will no longer be able to use the EU fast track queue at passport control. You will however be able to take advantage of duty free shopping when returning to the UK. From the Government directly ‘British passengers travelling to EU countries will be able to take advantage of duty-free shopping from January 2021, bringing our approach to the EU in line with the rest of the world’. However, for passengers travelling to non-EU countries, Duty-free shopping has slightly changed as they will not be allowed to bring back tax-free clothing or electronic items in a pledge to not undermine high-street businesses. Read more on this topic from the horse’s mouth here
For tourism, every rolling 180-day period, you will have a 90-day limit when within most of the EU. This means you won’t have to apply for a Visa if you stick within this time frame. For example, if you went on a spa holiday to Italy in March and then a Spanish Family TimeTogether™ getaway in May, these days would indeed be subtracted from your 90-day allowance. If you plan on staying longer than 90 days, you will need a visa or permit for work, study or business travel. However, some EU countries will NOT affect your allowance, these include Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania.
If you have an EHIC card, it can still be used until its expiry date. If not, you can apply for the new 'Global Health Insurance Card, which will cover you for a number of countries including those in the EU.
Be sure to check before you fly though as some countries will require appropriate insurance with healthcare cover especially for pre-existing conditions previously covered by the EHIC.
You will potentially need extra documentation to drive in EU countries. This could be an international driving permit or a ‘green card’ from your insurer.
Hopefully, this makes things a little clearer for those seeking wellness abroad in 2021! Much will be the same when booking a holiday, but it is good to know of the few significant changes, in case they affect you in any way. Here at Health and Fitness Travel, our Wellness Travel Specialists keep up to date on all the latest information and are available to answer any questions you may have relating to these travel changes.