No-deal Brexit and travel to Europe: what will happen?

If the UK leaves the European Union with a deal, there’ll be a transition period that will last until at least 31 December 2020. During this time, little is likely to change. But what happens, travel-wise, if there’s a no-deal Brexit? We take a look.

If the UK leaves the European Union with a deal, there’ll be a transition period that will last until at least 31 December 2020. During this time, little is likely to change. But what happens, travel-wise, if there’s a no-deal Brexit? We take a look.

Josh Daniels
From the Travel team
minute read
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Posted 21 OCTOBER 2019

What does no-deal Brexit travel to the EU look like?

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, travel to Europe is likely to be affected in a number of ways.

  • Transport
    The Government says flights, ferries, cruises, Eurostar and Eurotunnel, and bus and coach services will be able to ‘run as before’ in a no-deal Brexit. Ferries come under international rules and there are contingency arrangements for air travel between the UK and the EU.

    However, the Government is also advising you check the latest travel information before you travel. And, Brexit or no Brexit, it always makes sense to have travel insurance that covers you for cancellation and delays.
  • Passports
    Your passport will need to have at least six months left on it for travel to most countries in Europe, if the UK leaves without a deal. If you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date. Any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the six months needed. Not sure if your passport is okay? Use the GOV.UK passport checker tool.
  • Visas
    The European Parliament has agreed that UK nationals can travel to the EU after Brexit for stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period without a visa. This includes countries in the Schengen Area where there are no internal borders. It doesn’t give British nationals the right to work in the EU. 


Following the UK’s most recent national restrictions, you can only travel internationally or within the UK if you're legally permitted to do so while the UK is under full lockdown restrictions.

Non-essential travel is not currently permitted within the UK before 12 April 2021 at the earliest and international travel is not currently permitted before 17 May 2021 at the earliest. Any insurance for travel before these dates is likely to be invalid. This means that, unfortunately, we’re unable to provide any new single trip price comparisons for UK policies with a start date prior to 12 April 2021 and any single trip comparisons for international policies with a start date prior to 17 May 2021
You’re still able to purchase annual multi-trip policies, however, if you choose to travel against FCDO advice and current restrictions, you won’t be covered for your trip.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. See latest FCDO advice for further information.

Any insurance policy purchased to cover a trip to a destination where the local authority, or the FCDO, has instructed citizens not to travel, will not be valid.

For more information, please see our coronavirus and travel insurance page.

Until then, stay safe.

Customers with more serious pre-existing medical conditions

Our panel includes insurance providers who quote cover for all medical conditions declared on our website, with no exclusions.

On its Money Advice Service website, The Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) has launched a directory of insurance providers who may be able to provide quotes over the phone, if you have more serious medical conditions. Find more information at the Money Advice Service or by calling the British Insurance Brokers’ Association on 0370 950 1790.

Medical treatment in Europe

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles British citizens to free or discounted healthcare when visiting EU countries, as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. It only covers state-provided healthcare, which might not include everything you’d expect to get for free on the NHS. It also won’t cover bringing you home if you become injured or ill. For these reasons, it’s recommended you also purchase travel insurance.

The EHIC isn’t valid on cruises, so consider specialist cruise insurance.

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, the EHIC may no longer be valid and you may have to pay for any treatment you have in an EU country. Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Ireland have said that British citizens could continue to receive free healthcare if there’s no deal, but precise arrangements will depend on the country you’re visiting. See more information at NHS Direct.

Driving in Europe after a no-deal Brexit

Car insurance
Insurance providers will continue to provide minimum third party cover for driving in Europe. But – as is the case now – if you have comprehensive cover in the UK and want it for Europe, you may have to pay to extend the cover. Check your policy carefully before you travel to see what you’re covered for.

Driving licences
The European Driving Licence covers all EU and European Economic Area (EEA) countries and Switzerland. If we leave the UK without a deal, you may need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in the EU. Rules vary depending on which country you’re visiting and, if you’re travelling around, you may need more than one IDP. See the list on GOV.UK.

An IDP costs £5.50. They’re available from the Post Office. To apply, you’ll need a full UK driving licence, a passport standard photo and your passport if you still have an older-style paper licence.

Green Cards
You’ll need to carry a document called a Green Card if you want to drive in Europe after a no-deal Brexit. This isn’t actually a card but a certificate of insurance showing you have third party cover for the country you want to drive in.

You need to apply for your Green Card from your insurance provider at least one month before you intend to travel. Find out more about Green Cards and how to get one.

If you’re driving your own vehicle, you’ll also need a GB sticker.

Duty free

If a holiday to Europe is the opportunity to bring back some of your favourite tipple, it’s worth knowing the rules. You won’t have to pay duty or tax on things like alcohol and cigarettes from EU countries if you:

  • transport them yourself
  • will use them yourself of give them away as gifts
  • have paid tax and duty in the country you bought them, for example VAT.

The rules may be different if you’re bringing goods from Ireland to Northern Ireland. 

Mobile roaming

Free mobile roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway ends if the UK leaves without a Brexit deal. Check with your provider to see whether they’re going to charge for roaming and what the charges will be. It’s worth noting that the government will be introducing legislation that says these charges shouldn’t go above £45 without you knowing.

Some providers (3, EE, O2 and Vodafone) have indicated they will continue free roaming. If your provider isn’t one of them, it might be time to start comparing mobile deals.

You should also know how to turn off your mobile data roaming if you’re worried about charges, and make sure you’re familiar as to which services are likely to run up big bills and those that aren’t.

Travel insurance and no-deal Brexit

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is advising people to check the terms of their travel insurance to make sure they understand what they’re covered for, including any disruption as a result of Brexit. If there’s anything you’re not sure about, contact your provider.

“When it comes to claims for travel disruption, as for all claims, providers must treat customers fairly and not unreasonably reject claims,” says the FCA.

Will a no-deal Brexit have an impact on the price of travel insurance? Patrick Ikhena from Compare the Market says:

“The uncertainty around Brexit means it’s difficult to predict if there’ll be an immediate impact on travel insurance costs. However, the price of travel insurance covering trips to Europe may rise eventually, once the nature of the UK’s departure from the EU and the subsequent situation with travelling to Europe becomes clearer.

“Whatever happens, if you’re going to Europe, it’s absolutely vital to have appropriate travel insurance that offers you comprehensive cover for circumstances including pre-existing medical conditions, any medical bills you may face abroad and the cost of replacing baggage if lost, damaged or stolen.”

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