We are at the end of another eventful Brexit month: the tug-of-war between Parliament and No 10 continues, and so do negotiations between the UK Government and the EU on the practicalities of a post-Brexit Irish/Northern Irish border. But time is marching on. The UK’s expected withdrawal from the EU on Hallowe’en at 11pm is now less than five weeks away. A no-deal Brexit is likely to have real practical consequences for all of us, including the courageous, who have holidays planned for immediately after Brexit. If you are planning to travel to the EU (other than Ireland), here are four key questions to ask yourself:

  • Have I renewed my passport?
  • Do I have sufficient travel health insurance?
  • Do I need an International Driving Permit?
  • Is my pet ready to travel?

The current official position is that short stays (up to 90 days in any 180-day period) will be visa-free; however, you might need to complete some paperwork. New passport rules will apply for travel to Europe if the UK leaves the EU on 31 October without a withdrawal agreement in place. If you’re planning on travelling to and between countries in the Schengen area (most EU countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) your passport must have been issued within the last 10 years, and have a minimum of three months’ validity beyond the planned stay (the UK Government recommends that you have at least six months left). Whether your passport is valid for travel will therefore depend on the dates and duration of your stay by reference to the time left on your passport.


Currently, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) covers necessary treatment anywhere within the EU (as well as Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). The EHIC does not however replace travel insurance, for example it does not cover the costs of bringing you back to the UK if you become unwell. You should therefore always have both the EHIC and travel insurance when you travel abroad. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the EHIC will no longer be valid and access to healthcare in the EU will change. The UK Government has issued guidance, which  suggests that if your visit starts before exit day, your EHIC will remain valid for the duration of your stay (even if you return after Brexit) and the NHS would pay for healthcare coverage. To be on the safe side however, you should get comprehensive private travel insurance that includes healthcare prior to travelling to Europe.

If you are planning on driving in the EU (or Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) after Brexit you may need one or more International Driving Permits (IDPs) in addition to your UK driving licence. Which IDP you’ll need depends on which country you’re going to or driving through (you won’t need an IDP for driving in Ireland though). If you have a full UK driving licence, you can apply for an IDP in any Post Office (it also has a useful ‘IDP Country Checker’ on its website). If you already have a valid IDP, check whether it’s the right type for your destination.

If you are travelling with your pet, make sure that it is allowed into the EU after Brexit. In the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit, the UK will be treated as an ‘unlisted’ country. This means that you have to comply with certain health and documentation requirements: dogs and cats (and indeed ferrets) need to be microchipped and vaccinated against rabies before they are allowed to enter the EU. Dogs travelling from the UK to EU-listed tapeworm-free countries (Finland, Ireland and Malta) must be treated for tapeworm one to five days before travelling. A current EU pet passport issued in the UK will no longer be valid. If your pet is going on holiday with you, talk to your vet as soon as possible but keep in mind that this process takes up to four months.

Once you have asked and answered these four questions you should be well prepared for your well-deserved break from Brexit.

Hannah Frahm, practice development lawyer in government, regulation and competition at Brodies LLP

For more information please visit www.brodies.com