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British Travellers – Getting used to Brexit

Updated: Jan 5, 2021

Hurrah for some (and not all), #Brexit is finally “done”. Control of British waters, taking back sovereignty, setting UK’s own rules and more independence are some of the many things the pro-Brexit camp have suggested.

Whether the above will hold true (and actually good for the UK) or whether the pro-remain camp's fears will come true, time will tell.

The last-minute Trade #Deal struck before Christmas, is the start of a very long journey, for the UK, #EU and the rest of the world. We can only hope that this deal will develop into something great.

The reality though, is people should accept (happily or in sorrow) that Britain is no longer part of the EU family - we are now a "Third-Country". As third-country nationals, we all have to abide by the rules that are not meant for the inner circle and travel regulations are part of that.

Our freedom pass to #travel to Europe (free of all restrictions) is now a distant memory. We now have to abide by Schengen rules in travelling to Europe and 27 different national rules regarding anything that's we used to once take for granted, including COVID policy on travelling.

British travellers must resign to the fact that their passports are blue in colour and will have to read up on each country's travel rules before booking our next trip. Below are some of the things British travellers should consider before travelling to Europe.

Health Insurance

Those travelling should always have health care insurance in the event of an emergency. The UK-EU deal includes a provision for a new GHIC (Global Heal Insurance Card) where UK travellers may still receive healthcare for free in the EU.

GHIC will not work in Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Iceland. Travellers should get separate travel insurance covering these countries.

EHIC (European Health Insurance Cards) can still be issued and cover health costs for EEA countries (as before), but there are strict criteria. You should check the NHS website for full details.

Border Control

Among other inconveniences in life, #border control will be part of a third-country national traveller's life. No longer are we able to use e-gates for entry but the need to awkwardly speak to a human being.

Apart from the social interaction one may or may not like, British travellers will be expected to show a return ticket, proof of health insurance and available funds for the trip. Something your standard traveller around Europe wouldn’t have expected in the past. In essence, travelling to France will be no different to travelling to India, Canada, the US or Australia. So, charge up that music device and listen to some awesome music if one is greeted with a reticulated python long of a queue.

Purpose of Travel

British travellers enjoyed the freedom of movement to the rest of EEA and EU just days ago and with COVID restriction aside, able to waltz in any EU and EEA countries without having a purpose (at least for three months), this is no longer the case.

There are, however, a wide-ranging list of permissible activities agreed with the trade deal for short-term travellers (extracted from the published trade agreement):

a) meetings and consultations: natural persons attending meetings or conferences, or engaged in consultations with business associates;

b) research and design: technical, scientific and statistical researchers conducting independent research or research for a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;

c) marketing research: market researchers and analysts conducting research or analysis for a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;

d) training seminars: personnel of an enterprise who enter the territory being visited by the Short-term business visitor to receive training in techniques and work practices which are utilised by companies or organisations in the territory being visited by the Short-term business visitor, provided that the training received is confined to observation, familiarisation and classroom instruction only;

e) trade fairs and exhibitions: personnel attending a trade fair for the purpose of promoting their company or its products or services;

f) sales: representatives of a supplier of services or goods taking orders or negotiating the sale of services or goods or entering into agreements to sell services or goods for that supplier, but not delivering goods or supplying services themselves. Short-term business visitors shall not engage in making direct sales to the general public;

g) purchasing: buyers purchasing goods or services for an enterprise, or management and supervisory personnel, engaging in a commercial transaction carried out in the territory of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;

h) after-sales or after-lease service: installers, repair and maintenance personnel and supervisors, possessing specialised knowledge essential to a seller's contractual obligation, supplying services or training workers to supply services pursuant to a warranty or other service contract incidental to the sale or lease of commercial or industrial equipment or machinery, including computer software, purchased or leased from a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person throughout the duration of the warranty or service contract;

i) commercial transactions: management and supervisory personnel and financial services personnel (including insurers, bankers and investment brokers) engaging in a commercial transaction for a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person;

j) tourism personnel: tour and travel agents, tour guides or tour operators attending or participating in conventions or accompanying a tour that has begun in the territory of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person; and

k) k) translation and interpretation: translators or interpreters supplying services as employees of a legal person of the Party of which the Short-term business visitor is a natural person.

If British travellers travel outside of these permissible activities as a short-term visitor or intend stay for more than 90 days out of 180 days, then a visa is likely to be needed.


Most travellers love the thought of bringing duty-free goods when coming back home. Most British travellers travelling to Europe will generally not need to think of the volume of goods they get into the UK (or vice versa) before 31 December 2020.

This freedom has all but changed when the clock ticked over to 2021. Whilst travelling to Europe means travellers enjoy duty-free goods at the airport (which might attract savings of around £2 to £12 depending on what one buys), the volume of goods will be limited as well.

Travellers should check their allowances before they start shopping.

Passport Validity

Most are guilty of just grabbing their passport and travel. However, the rules regarding travelling with only a valid passport to any EU countries will no longer apply. British travellers and vice versa will need to have their passport validity checked, and the passport must have at least six months of validity before being allowed to travel.

Red Tape

Whilst most countries have agreed on minimal fuss on the registration process for British residents in the EU, British nationals returning to the EU will be expected to show their registration certificate at port. Those who cannot could be refused entry to their EU destination.

Some media outlets have already reported British residents in the EU facing refusal of entry as a result of the formalities not met. British residents in the EU or those intending to return to the EU should check their necessary paperwork before travelling.

To sum up the start of 2021 and the end of EU-UK family ties, we have attached a little summary of what the EU-UK relationship will look like in the future (following our Trade Deal). This summary is helpfully created and published by the European Commission and probably one of the most straightforward documents (in every way) that we have seen in the last four years. Access the document here.

Shores & Legal are experienced and expert immigration partners for your business and personal immigration requirements. We help companies with identifying their immigration compliance gaps and helping business set up and operate an effective immigration compliance programme. If you wish to discuss your UK immigration requirements, contact us at +44 (0) 207 097 6778 or

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