Brexit: What will change? Travel, borders, immigration and healthcare

Brexit: What will change? Travel, borders, immigration and healthcare


Travel, immigration, overseas healthcare and trade will all change from January 1 (Picture: AFP/Getty)

The UK and the EU have finally shook on a historic Brexit trade deal just days before the deadline.

It comes more than four years after the UK voted to leave the bloc following the June 2016 referendum.

And while Britons have been mentally and logistically preparing to leave the EU for some time, many are still scratching their heads over how things will change after the transition period ends at 11pm on December 31.

Travel, overseas healthcare, trade and immigration are just a few things that will look very different from the new year for Britons and their European counterparts.

Here’s what to expect…

Overseas healthcare

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – which gives you the right to state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay – will also no longer be valid.

Instead, the Government has advised people to get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before going abroad.

Border control

You may have to show your return ticket at a border control post and prove you have enough money for your stay.

Tourists will be able to travel without a visa to Schengen area countries, which include most EU nations, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

Travellers will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, but may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

Britain and Brussels have finally come to an agreement (Picture: AFP)


Currently, travel is mostly off the cards for Britons travelling to Europe due to Covid-19 – but when travel is allowed again, there will be a few changes in store.

If you’re travelling to EU countries – as well as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein – for a holiday, you won’t need a visa to visit.

However, you’ll only be allowed to stay for a maximum of 90 days total in any rolling 180-day period – with all the trips you make counting towards those 90 days.

The exception to these rules are trips to Croatia, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, where visits you may have made to other EU countries will not count towards your 90-day total.

After Brexit, European Health Insurance Cards may not be valid in many EU countries, and so the appropriate travel insurance with health cover will be needed.

UK citizens will still be able to drive in EU countries but will need a green card and GB sticker if taking their own vehicle.

Travel will look very different in Europe for Britons after Brexit (Picture: Getty)

For pet owners who want to bring their animals on holiday, the pet passport scheme will no longer be valid. Instead, owners will need to get the appropriate vaccinations and an animal health certificate ahead of travel to the EU or Northern Ireland.

The guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will also end, so travellers should check with their phone operator to find out about any potential charges.


Yes, out with the burgundy and in with the blue.

And getting into the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will no longer be as straightforward as before.

The burgundy passports are a thing of the past (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

You will need to renew your passport if it has less than six months until it expires, or if it is more than 10 years old – a process that costs between £75.50 and £85.

These rules do not apply to Ireland, where you can continue to use your passport for as long as it’s valid.

UK citizens moving to the EU

For British citizens planning to move after January 1, the automatic right to live and work in the EU will no longer be permitted once the transition period ends.

UK nationals already living in an EU country will have certain protections under the Withdrawal Agreement – but they may have to apply for residency depending on that country’s rules and how long they have lived there.

This means Britons will need to apply in accordance with that country’s immigration rules.

European travel may be tricky for Britons due to Covid-19 (Picture: Getty)


A points-based immigration system will be introduced for all foreign citizens, excluding the Irish, wanting to work, live or study in the UK.

It will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally and aims to attract people who can contribute to the UK’s economy, according to the Government.

EU citizens living in the UK

The Government has pledged to protect the rights of EU citizens, and those from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, living in the UK by December 31.

EU citizens will have to register with the EU settlement scheme before June, with successful applicants granted the right to continue living and working in the UK indefinitely.

People who have lived continuously in the country for five years can obtain settled status, while those with less than five years’ residence should be eligible for pre-settled status, which can later be converted into settled status.

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