Travel after Brexit: Everything you need to know

Having left the European Union, the UK now has new travel rules. Since British passport holders are no longer EU citizens, several factors need to be considered when planning a trip to and from the UK.

Confused about what Brexit will mean for your travels? You aren't alone. Image credit: Circle Creative Studio/iStock
Confused about what Brexit will mean for your travels? You aren’t alone. Image credit: Circle Creative Studio/iStock

Visiting the UK from non-EU destinations

It’s rare to read anything overly positive when it comes to Brexit – but for visitors to the UK traveling from outside the EU, there are some upsides. At present, there are no changes to your travel after Brexit. As usual, you may need a visa to visit, but it should be business as usual as long as you’ve got your paperwork ready, with no new rules to worry about.

In fact, since June 2019, visitors from the U.S., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore have been using e-passport gates at UK terminals. That means less queueing, less hassle, and an even smoother arrival. 

Find out whether you need a visa to visit the UK here.

EU to UK and UK to EU travel

EU citizens who wish to visit the UK now need a passport and cannot use their national ID cards. The passport must be valid for at least 6 months upon arrival in the UK. Additionally EU citizens can stay up to 6 months in the UK without a visa. There is no restriction on Irish citizens entering the UK or living there. 

British travelers heading to the EU also need to check that their passport is less than 10 years old and valid for at least 6 months after their date of travel. Previously, passports were only required to be valid for the duration of the stay, and this is still the case when traveling to Ireland. However, if you are traveling between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, or vice versa, check the latest travel information before you do so. The government has set up an online passport checker tool

British citizens do not require a visa for entering the Schengen Area, if the duration of their stay does not exceed 90 days within 180-day period.

ETIAS and Brexit

There are many countries that are not part of the EU, whose citizens can enter the EU Schengen Area without a visa for short-term stays up to 90 days.

However, the EU will introduce a new visa waiver in November 2023 for visa-exempt non-EU citizens. British passport holders now fall into this category.

ETIAS which stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System is an electronic system that allows and keeps track of visitors from the above category. The main reason for the approval of ETIAS is security and improving the safety of all those within EU borders.

With that being said, visa-exempt non-EU citizens will need to apply for ETIAS prior to their visit. The whole process is online and takes about 10 minutes. Applicants need to provide a few personal details along with their passport information which will be checked against international security databases.

Once approved, ETIAS permits are valid for 3 years or until the expiration of the passport, whichever occurs first. With ETIAS, visa-exempt non-EU citizens, including UK passport holders can stay anywhere in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days per 180-day period.

Flights for business

Flying continues to be the backbone of much business travel, and thankfully both the UK and EU are committed to minimal disruption.

Business travelers from both the EU and UK would still enjoy visa-free travel with their passport or ID card when flying between nations, up to the end of  November 2023 (known as the transition period). 

Flights should remain uninterrupted. Image credit: undrey/iStock
Both the EU and UK are committed to minimal disruptions to flights. Image credit: undrey/iStock

Other means of transportation for business

Traveling by Eurostar and Eurotunnel, on bus and coach services, and on ferries or cruises remains uninhibited, which is great news if you’re stopping over in Paris, Amsterdam, or Brussels for a business trip. 

In general, border crossings may take longer than before Brexit. The reason for this is that passengers in both directions can no longer take advantage of dedicated EU fast-track lanes. In addition, border officials may request a return ticket and/or proof of financial means. Passengers should have this information ready.

As ever, the devil will be in the details. If you’re traveling to the EU or UK by train, bus or boat, we recommend keeping an eye on the latest news. 

Brexit and customs

Customs duties and taxes involved in exporting and importing goods to and from the UK have been subject to new regulations and procedures since January 1st 2021. It is important for businesses to familiarize themselves with new processes, which generally fall into three steps.

1- Traders must submit customs declarations for all goods imported into and exported from the UK (excluding Ireland).

2- Traders must correctly classify goods and record their origins.

3 – Imports and exports from the UK must include safety and security declarations. Currently, the UK Government does not require these declarations for imports from the EU. An exit summary declaration is generally required when exporting from the UK to the EU.

The process of submitting customs declaration can be complicated. However, the UK government has provided a comprehensive guide for traders to help them with their process.

As for the average traveler bringing souvenirs or gifts, the rules remain the same as they were before Brexit.

We recommend taking the time to consider what your business needs are and keeping a close eye on the UK government’s official guidance. 

For better or worse, travelers will need to adapt to Brexit – the good news, however, seems to be that it’ll be business as usual for many of your current travel arrangements.