Travel changes in two days

By | Category: Travel destinations

As Just about Travel has mentioned before, Europe changes for Britons as from January 1st 2021.

It is more important than ever to have comprehensive travel insurance

Having left the transition period, most people visiting the twenty-seven countries of the EU will have a new experience ahead of them, an experience that only those that travelled over forty-five years ago might remember.

You won’t go through the EU line at passport control but in the rest of the world line. You won’t need a visa provided that you travel for no more than ninety days in any one year and that you have more than six months’ validity in your passport. As we have written before, if you don’t have that time period apply for a new passport now.

We knew that air space would be open so planes could continue to fly as well as ferries being able to sail, Eurostar would run and the tunnel would still be open for both sides to drive through.

In the 1,246 page document that was agreed between the EU and the UK on Christmas Eve there is little mention of travel rules since some were agreed long before the trade document was finalised. That is why we knew about visas and entry lines as, even if there was no deal, this was agreed beforehand.

In this massive tome, under article AIRTRN.22, there is consumer protection for travellers which will include appropriate access to information, assistance including for persons with disabilities and reduced mobility, reimbursement and, if applicable, compensation in case of denied boarding, cancellation or delays, and efficient complaint handling procedures. What is commonly known as E261 rules (compensation for flight delays/cancellation/baggage being lost) will continue to apply

The situation about visas is confirmed by article VSTV.1 which continues to allow for visa free visits provided that either party doesn’t unilaterally impose visa restrictions above what has been agreed. To change the accepted situation requires at least three months’ notice.

The document also confirms the existence of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK.

Remember as well that because of the pandemic, many countries require British residents to have had a COVID negative test carried out before they travel.

The EHIC card carried by most Britons travelling to EU countries will cease to be valid at the time of expiry on the card. Mine, for example runs until 2022. Up until that date EU governments should accept it. This only provides basic medical care and all travellers should carry travel insurance that is as comprehensive as possible.

But your card (and its successor GHIC) won’t be valid in “associate states”, that is Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland after December 31st. However, carrying your passport may assist in getting some medical help in Norway.

Check here for UK government advice on health cards.

The EHIC system is being replaced by Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) and yesterday evening the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office burned my mobile with e-mail after e-mail telling me that I can apply for a GHIC card online. Like the EHIC this will provide medical cover to the same level as enjoyed by the residents of the country you are visiting.

If you don’t have a EHIC/GHIC card you can apply for one, free of charge by clicking here or going to https://www.ehic.org.uk/Internet/startApplication.do. If you click from another non-government site, you may be charged.

If you are driving, dig out those old GB stickers as you will need to put on your car and make sure you carry the right equipment for the countries in which you are going to drive. You will also need your car insurer’s approval and a green card to show you have insurance.

In addition, pet passports will no longer be acceptable so check on what you can or cannot do with your pet insurance supplier.

All that we have to wish for now is that countries – not just in the EU but around the world – open their borders once the pandemic is controlled and that we can travel again.

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