Travel to the EU has changed for UK travellers in 2023, but not as much and not as badly as many feared. If you are planning to go to Europe in 2023 here is a useful checklist to make sure you are ready for your next trip.
Thanks to the ridiculous delays and border closures caused by Covid, this summer will be the first time many have travelled fully since the UK left the EU, and it is essential to understand the minor but important admin changes that have happened since then. Despite the doom mongers predicting that the world would end and Brits would never be able to travel to Magaluf again, the actual fact is nothing much has changed at all in real terms. Many reciprocal arrangements remain unchanged for the most part, visas to work or stay longer in EU countries require a little more paperwork but still exist, and your passports will get stamped, well, until they finally bring in the much delayed new entry/exit system which will see stamps go the way of the dodo anyway. Hardly the barriers to travel that everyone predicted.
What these changes essentially amount to is a bit of admin and visa rule changes, nothing that international travellers aren’t used to dealing with changes in destinations outside of the EU anyway, and nothing that can’t be easily dealt with.
But still, there have been some slight changes and with all the confusion and bad advice from the UK Government around passports as well as certain Airlines making rules up as they go along, it is important you know exactly what you need to sort out before you travel to the EU, so make sure you go through this simple checklist before your next EU trip and know before you go.
Check The Foreign Office Advice.
Often out of date and almost redundant with an overabundance of extreme caution, the FCDO advice should still be your first port of call to find out up to date entry requirements for the countries you are visiting as these have been changing frequently with covid guidelines. You can also sign up to get country specific email alerts if there are any changes. Use this information as a starting point to do your own research on what the situation is actually like and take safety precautions as necessary.
Check Visa Requirements.
For the majority of travellers on short trips to the EU there will be no difference. Britain and the EU have agreed visa-free travel for short visits, meaning UK passport holders can spend up to 90 days in the Schengen zone during any 180-day period, but you will need a visa if you plan to stay more than 90 days in any 180-day period or wish to work as you travel.
This 180 day period can be in a series of short visits or one long visit, and it applies to all EU countries with the exception of the non-Schengen countries Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, and also Ireland which allows unrestricted travel from the UK as part of a common travel area for British nationals.
Applying for a specific visa (there are a lot of options depending on your specific need) isn’t difficult to do, it just involves an online application and a small fee, the same as many other countries around the world. Hardly a major imposition (and certainly not a loss of the ability to do so as many scaremongerers shouted about), just check your destinations specific requirements before you go.
Buy An ETIAS.
One of the biggest outright changes is that the EU are bringing in a European Travel Information and Authorisation System, or ETIAS, which is similar to the ESTA permit required for the US. This is not a visa, but a permission to enter, and will cost around 7 euro. Of course, like everything else it is heavily delayed and not likely to be here before the end of the year but always check before you fly just in case.
Check Your Passport.
This is perhaps the biggest change for many people who aren’t used to navigating passport requirements, but it isn’t as confusing as many have made out. Those used to travelling beyond the EU will be more than familiar with it.
Very basically to travel in the EU your passport will need to have been issued within the last 10 years and have at least 3 months left on the passport from the date you leave your destination.
Your passport will also be stamped, which makes almost no difference to you as a traveller unless you enjoy seeing the various different stamps each country has, but remember, passport stamping is expected to become fully automated soon through the new Entry/Exit system (EES) anyway to help process travellers quickly and efficiently, which is a bit ironic as it is likely to be delayed again!
That is it. Really. That is all it takes. If your passport is more than 10 years old, get a new one, and using the international norm of renewing it before it has 6 months left (instead of the previously required 3) is just common sense.
Get Your Global Health Insurance Card.
Those travellers who were worried about losing reciprocal health arrangements with the EU with the loss of the old European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) were worried over nothing because it has now been replaced with the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). Same thing, different letter. Remember I said there was a panic over nothing?
If you haven’t applied for your GHIC yet, make sure you do in plenty of time before your next trip.
Check Your Insurance Policy.
I know no one likes paying out for insurance but it is essential. There is just no getting round that, even if you have a GHIC. The GHIC does not cover everything and some policies will not cover basic expenses if you don’t have one.
Check Your Phone.
Since leaving the EU many UK phone operators are bringing back roaming charges, so don’t get caught out with expensive bills. This is easily solved by getting a local sim when you arrive or even better, getting an eSim like AloSIM.
Plan Your Big European Trip!
And that is really it. Nothing too onerous at all. Yes visas are a bit of a pain but they aren’t too bad once you get used to them and they certainly shouldn’t stop you planning your trip to Europe!
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Thanks for clearing a lot of this up, I’m a pretty experienced traveller and I don’t mind admitting it all confused me a bit!
To be fair it was confusing for everyone Neil, it didn’t help that they were essentially just making it up as they went along 😂
I’m travelling to Germany and then Greece in a couple of months, will I need a visa or etias from the UK?
As of yet Paul no. The ETIAS still isn’t in place yet and they keep pushing he implementation date back, so keep an eye out over the next year or so but for now you’re grand
Great, more things to thank brexit for. The problems just keep piling up. Well done everyone.
The ETIAS and other changes would have happened regardless of Brexit. As for everything else for the vast majority nothing has changed. The only real difference is for those who want to live or work in the EU they now have to apply for a visa. A bit more paperwork. Hardly the travel ban many were prophesising is it? Were you planning on living or working in the EU? Ever? Or is this a political rant?
I travel around Europe regularly and haven’t run into any problems. I got through the E-gates at Rome Airport really quickly last week whilst many passengers from elsewhere had longer queues. Same in Barcelona. Same in Berlin. All of these supposed problems are in peoples head.
Exactly, everyone pretending that long queues and annoying immigration staff never existed before, or there are plenty of instances of pot luck where you travel through easily!
Arriving at Luton last week, EU and other passports got through Border Control in no time. U.K. passport Q the longest by miles.
Arrived in Manchester a couple of weeks ago, UK queue was almost non existent. A couple of weeks before that coming back through the same airport there was a queue but I wasn’t waiting more than 5 minutes or so. Want to keep comparing experiences or do those not fit your narrative?
None of these changes should be needed at all. Thanks Brexit.
These changes would have been made regardless, and are hardly world ending.
I’ve travelled to Europe multiple times per year since Brexit and ridiculous Covid restrictions were the only real difficulty. Yes there are a few more changes ad checks but I see it as being no more of a problem than travelling anywhere internationally.
Exactly! It really is a non issue. I mean ‘check your passport is in date’, such a hardship! Those covid restrictions were ridiculous though I agree.
You might think it a little bit more of a problem if you owned a property in Europe or lived there, but I guess its okay because the retardes masses got their brexit eh? Who needs free movement when we can spend hours in immigration queues?
Oh I’m sorry, is waiting in a different line keeping you from your property portfolio? Do you need to ask your accountant what extra form to fill in? 😀 There is nothing stopping me or anyone else still moving to Europe if I so wish, just as there wasn’t before. Remoaners are such lovely people.
These are all the big changes everyone is crying about? Really? Oh no, how did the Americans, Canadians, Australians and dozens of other countries cope with third country status before now? No wonder Europe has no tourism. 😂
Nope, definitely no third country tourists in Europe before this. I don’t know how we’ll cope never being able to visit Europe again! I guess my upcoming trips to to Greece and Paris will have to console me.
So basically the same as travelling to the US?
Pretty much. Eventually anyway.
Great news and very useful.
Glad you found it helpful.