Many Britons may be concerned about the changes that are set to come with Brexit, many of which could impact European holidays. After an already difficult year for the travel industry amid the coronavirus pandemic, the EU departure is set to bring yet more rules and regulations to the way we travel.
Some of the main changes to come include passport validity, health and medical insurance while travelling, new rules for those hoping to drive abroad and specific guidelines for travelling with a pet.
According to Emma, though, these shouldn’t be a problem for Britons as long as they are organised.
“Just get the checklist out. Get your international driving license if you are going to be driving,” she advised.
“Get your passport if you are taking your pet. Be aware of roaming charges, change your provider to someone offering better or free roaming- that will be down to the providers.”
She added: “I think the expiry date on your passport is one of the main things to check if you have travel coming up in 2021. Your passport is valid for travel anywhere in the EU up to and including the date of expiry, until December 31, 2020.
“If someone tells you that you need six months’ validity, they are giving you incorrect information.
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“However, this changes from January 1, 2020. The UK Government used to have a system where you could add on unspent months to a passport renewal. So your passport could be valid for up to 10 years and nine months.
“These unspent months will no longer be able to be counted from January 1 as the EU has stricter passport rules. You need to have at least six months left on 10 years. So, if your passport is older than nine years and six months, you cannot use it to travel to Europe. You need to renew it.”
Another change which has the potential to cause disruption is the expiration of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
Currently, Britons can use their EHIC to access medical care equivalent to that of citizens in the European country they are visiting.
“The EHIC card that will be extinguished. You won’t be able to use that after the 31 December,” explains Emma.
Coupled with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is more crucial than ever that holidaymakers have the right level of medical coverage.
This is a notion which is also emphasised by the Government.
“The EHIC may not be valid from 1 January 2021. Make sure you get travel insurance that covers your needs, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition,” warns the Government website.
“Who knows what it is going to be like at the airports. You could argue that maybe this is a good time for this to be happening because, if there are any little tweaks that need making in terms of making the passenger journey through the airports, January, being the quietest time for travel, is maybe the best time to iron out those issues.
“And with things down at the moment, it gives airports hopefully the time to think through any issues, big or small issues that arise.
One thing that is not set to change, however, is air passenger rights.
“My understanding has been that the Government has always said your rights will continue,” Emma explained.
Currently, passengers are protected against cancellation, involuntary denied boarding or delay by EU Regulation 261/04.
According to UK air passenger rights experts at FlightRight, this coverage has now been added into UK law.
They explain: “The UK legislation, takes the EU Regulation and all the rights you get under it, and amends it so that it covers:
“All flights departing from the UK no matter what airline; all flights departing outside the UK and landing in the UK, if the operating carrier is an EU or UK carrier; and all flights departing outside the UK and landing in the EU if the operating carrier is a UK air carrier.”
Emma added: “The good thing about the Brexit decision is that we have been assured by the Government that consumer protections will continue.
“They are enshrined now in UK law so when it comes to cancellation rights and compensation I am really pleased to hear that those rights will continue for us.”
Even after a tumultuous year, Emma has high hopes for the future of travel.
“We’re seeing bookings coming through for December, January, April, May predominantly. Families are looking for Easter,” she said.
“I reckon that’s because families didn’t necessarily get away abroad this year and they need a chance to do that. When you are starting to get better weather and testing and things should hopefully be in a better place to enable travel without so much fear of quarantine on return.
“I know a lot of people who like to have that anticipation and something to look forward to and know that they have something in the diary, particularly as a family. Something that they can really plan for.”