Northern Ireland news

What will Brexit mean for travel to the European Union?

British passport holders travelling to the EU will be subject to different rules from January 1. Picture from Press Association/iStock

Are you planning on travelling to the European Union next year? On December 31, the transition period set out as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement will come to an end. This means that the UK will be outside the EU’s single market and customs union.

But what does it mean for travellers from Northern Ireland? And how will the rules differ between those who have British or Irish passports? Here’s what you need to know.


- What will happen on January 1?

The Brexit transition period will end. This means that British passport holders will no longer have the same freedom of movement within the EU as EU citizens.


- If I have a British passport, how can I travel to the EU?

Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change for British passport holders from January 1. Passports will need to be less than 10 years old and have at least six months left from the day you travel.


- What will happen at border control?

You may have to show your return ticket and show you have enough money for your stay.

You will also have to use separate lanes from EU, European Economic Area and Swiss citizens when queueing.

- How long will I be able to stay?

You'll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. If you want to stay longer you will have to apply for a visa. The changes are likely to affect British passport holders who have holiday homes aboard. Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania.


- What if I want to drive in the EU?

You might need an international driving permit (IDP) for some countries. If you are taking your own car, you will also need a ‘green card’ from your insurance company and a GB sticker.


- Can I still travel or live in Britain if I have an Irish passport?

Under the Common Travel Area (CTA) Irish and British citizens can travel around and live in either jurisdiction. Both the Irish and British governments have made commitments to maintaining the CTA.


- What about travel in the EU for Irish passport holders in the north?

Irish passport holders will still be allowed freedom of movement within the EU.

The European Union's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said earlier this year: "Whilst Northern Ireland will no longer be part of the EU, people born and raised here that choose to be Irish citizens will still be EU citizens. This means they can continue to move and reside freely within the EU."


- What does Brexit mean for the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme?

The scheme will no longer run for British citizens. British passport holders have been advised to check they have travel insurance before visiting the EU. However, the Irish government has previously said it will cover the cost of the scheme for all citizens in the north, including those who do not have Irish passports. The exact details of the scheme have yet to be finalised.

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