Travelling in Europe after January 2021

From 1 January 2021, new rules apply to UK citizens travelling to Europe.

We have listed some of the main issues travellers from the UK will face, as well as some links to useful resources. But, if you need advice on business trips to countries in the EU or EFTA, contact your GTM Account Manager.

At border control, UK travellers may be required

  • to show a return or onward ticket
  • to show you have enough money for your stay
  • to use separate lanes from EUEEA and Swiss citizens when queueing

UK travellers will not require a visa for short trips (up to 90 days in any 180-day period) to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, where visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.

EU border control staff may ask you for the purpose of the visit; where you plan to travel and stay; how long you intend to remain in the EU; how you propose to fund your stay; and whether you constitute a threat to public health.

It’s important to check the entry requirements for the country or countries you are visiting. Travel to Ireland will not change from 1 January 2021.

You may need to renew your United Kingdom passport earlier if you are travelling from 1 January 2021.

On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to have at least 6 months left AND be less than 10 years old.

If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. It’s important to check whether your passport is valid for the country or countries you are visiting.

You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you travel.

The UK Government has confirmed that the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) continues to be valid in some EU countries.

However, it’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies may not.

Apply for a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end.

Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.

A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing. Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.

You should check that your qualifications will be recognised in the EU if you provide services like legal services.

You’ll need to have your UK professional qualification officially recognised if you want to work in a profession that is regulated in the EEA or Switzerland. It will need to be recognised by the appropriate regulator for your profession in each country where you intend to work. You’ll need to do this even if you’re providing temporary or occasional professional services.

Travellers departing GB for EU countries will be able to buy duty free goods (alcohol and tobacco) once they have passed security controls on the same basis as currently applies to those travelling to non-EU destinations.

The extra statutory concession that currently permits tax-free sales beyond security controls, on goods such as perfumes, electronics and clothing will be withdrawn.

Passengers will no longer be able to bring unlimited amounts of alcohol, tobacco or other goods for personal use when travelling from the EU to GB.

Personal allowances will be extended to those travelling from EU to GB. The amount of alcohol that passengers can bring into GB will increase. Passengers bringing in any goods over their personal allowance must declare them and pay the relevant tax/ duty.

You must declare goods that you take with you to sell outside the EU – for example if they’re in your baggage or in a private vehicle. You’ll need to declare goods you take to sell anywhere outside the UK from 1 January 2021.

If you’re taking your own vehicle, you will need a green card and a GB sticker.

Please note that, for the green card, you will need the physical document – you cannot rely on an electronic copy.

New American Airlines mobile app feature uses secure passport chip technology for faster international boarding

American Airlines passengers now have a simpler way to check in for international flights as the airline has introduced passport scanning to its mobile app.

American Airlines claims to be the first airline to offer passport chip scanning that securely transmits passport information directly from the NFC chip embedded in the passport. This allows passengers to head directly to the gate for international flights, without having their passports rechecked by a customer service agent.

American Airlines’ mobile app now enables passengers
to scan their passports by NFC to speed the check in process

Maya Leibman, American Airlines’ Chief Information Officer said:

We are continuously adding features to our app to make travel easier and worry-free for our customers. Mobile passport scanning removes a time-consuming step, providing our customers with a smoother check-in experience for international flights.

Currently, customers departing on international flights who check in on the app, have their passports rechecked at the airport. This step is required even if the customer has uploaded a photo of their passport via the mobile app. With this new enhancement, the customer will be prompted to enter their passport information and then scan their passport with an iOS or Android device. The app provides easy-to-follow instructions for the process.

Paul Baker, Sales Director of Global Travel Management said:

This is a great use of new technology by American Airlines and fixes one issue: wasted time at airports waiting to check in. American Airlines’ 130,000 global team members serve more than 200 million customers annually. So any technology that speeds up the process and removes hassle for passengers has to be a good idea. I am looking forward to trying it out soon.

Mobile passport scanning is the latest in a long line of new customer features American Airlines has implemented to the airline’s app to make travel easier for customers. Other recent introductions include boarding notifications, Siri shortcuts and a dark mode option. American has also rolled out additional services to improve the travel experiences, including biometric international boarding, virtual 3D aircraft tours online, a redesigned self-service kiosk menu that simplifies the check-in process and an improved family seating approach, which ensures adults and kids under 14, when travelling together on the same reservation, are seated together.

Contact your GTM Account Manager next time you need to fly on American Airlines.

New UK Passport Exit Checks.

Data on all passengers leaving the UK will now be collected and handed to the Home Office. The new scheme will be phased in at the country’s ports and border crossings.

Officials will now record the details of all travellers leaving by air, sea and rail. It is thought that the new checks will have a dis-proportionate affect on cross-channel ferry and Channel Tunnel travellers.

For the first month all passports will be scanned, but only 25% of the passport holders will have their details verified to ensure they are genuine, in a bid to minimise disruption. After a month, there will be a move to 50% verification and by the middle of June 100% verification will be introduced.

Brazil – Foreign Office Advice

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office have recently updated their advice for people travelling to Brazil.

Firstly, your passport should be stamped with an entry stamp from the Brazilian immigration authorities upon arrival. This also applies when you arrive by land. If you do not have your passport stamped, you may be requested to pay a fine before departing.

It is also important that you retain your immigration landing card that is required to leave the country – if you lose it you could be subject to a fine.

In some instances you may also be required to pay an airport tax of R$65 if this has not been paid with your airline ticket.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, if you have recently visited a country, which is known to suffer from outbreaks of Yellow Fever, you will need to show that you have been vaccinated against the disease.