The UK’s relationship with the European Union is to change significantly from Thursday night, with Britons losing their right to live and work across the 27 remaining EU member states.
As Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal is enacted less than 24 hours after it received royal assent, the UK will formally withdraw from a number of EU-aligned bodies and lose the benefits of EU membership from 11pm on 31 December.
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While the changes for industry are too extensive to list, here’s what most Brits will need to know.
Will I need a visa to go on holiday to the EU?
Thursday night marks the official end of freedom of movement rights between the UK and EU.
UK citizens will be able to go on holiday or take a business trip to EU countries but it will not be as straightforward as before, with people only permitted to stay in the EU for 90 days in any 180-day period.
A separate 90-day limit will also apply to the EU states of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, which are not part of the EU’s border-free Schengen Area.
For short trust trips to most EU nations, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway, UK citizens will not need a visa.
However, a visa or permit will likely be needed to stay for longer in an EU country, or to travel to work, study, or do business.
Travel to Ireland will not change.
It is worth bearing in mind that much travel to the EU is already restricted due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with many countries banning visitors from the UK to prevent the spread of the new strain of the virus. Restrictions are likely to continue well into 2021.
Do I need a new passport?
Passports issued before Brexit will still be valid after the UK exits the EU, though they will cease to have the extra rights afforded by an EU member state passport.
To visit most countries in Europe, your passport must have at least six months less until its expiry date, and must be less than 10 years old.
If your passport doesn’t meet the requirements you will need to renew it before your trip, which costs between £75.50 and £85.
Passports are now being issued with a new post-Brexit blue design, with ‘European Union’ omitted from the cover.
Will there be more border checks?
At border controls, British travellers may need to show a return or onward ticket and show they have enough money for their stay.
Access to fast queues in airports will also become a thing of the past, with UK citizens required to wait in “rest of world” lines and not the separate speedy queuing lanes for EU citizens.
UK citizens will not be able to take certain items, such as meat, milk or products containing them, into EU countries from 1 January, apart from certain exceptions such as infant food. This may lead to more significant security checks for Dover-Calais crossings as the new standards kick in.
Can I take my pet abroad?
While people are currently able to take their pets into the EU under the pet passport scheme, this will end on January 1 and already-issued pet passports will become invalid.
Under the new rules, any animals taken into the EU will need an Animal Health Certificate, which can be issued by a government-authorised vet.
The UK Government is advising people to allow a month to arrange this and any other vaccinations their animal may need.
The certificate is valid for four months, meaning that people who travel to the EU less regularly will have to reapply for a certificate every time they do so.
The restrictions on animals also apply for travel from Britain to Northern Ireland, with travellers to Northern Ireland required to follow the same process as for EU states.
Will I be able to access healthcare in the EU?
At present, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows British citizens to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in an EU country.
Existing EHICs will remain valid until they expire. Applications for new cards will see people receive a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) to help them get emergency or necessary medical care.
Despite its name, the “Global” health insurance card will not apply globally, with private insurance still required for healthcare in the vast majority of non-EU countries.
This includes Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, where UK-issued EHICs and GHICs will become invalid from 1 January.
The Government has warned that an EHIC or GHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance, advising travellers, including those with pre-existing conditions, to get insured.
Will I be able to drive over to Europe?
Yes, but you will need extra documents.
UK motorists entering EU countries will need a green card and GB sticker if taking their own vehicle from 1 January.
Green cards provide proof of vehicle insurance when driving abroad and should be requested from your insurer at least six weeks before travel.
An international driving permit (IDP) may be needed to drive in some EU countries and Norway if someone has a paper licence, or their licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man.
Can I still get free mobile phone roaming in the EU?
The UK-EU trade deal contains measures “to encourage cooperation on the promotion of fair and transparent rates for international mobile roaming” – but there is nothing to prevent mobile operators introducing new charges if they decide to do so.
Customers are advised to check with their network operator for potential changes before they travel.
If you do incur charges, your operator should notify you once they reach £45, meaning that people will likely not rack up large bills without their knowledge.
Can I move to the EU after January 1?
For British citizens planning to move after 1 January, the automatic right to live and work in the EU ceases when the transition period ends.
This means they will need to apply for residency in accordance with that country’s immigration rules.
Can I study in the EU?
The UK will no longer take part in the Erasmus student exchange programme from next year.
The Government said it will be replaced by the £100 million Turing scheme, named after Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing, which will support around 35,000 students to go on placements around the world from September. Details of the replacement scheme remain patchy, however.
Government guidance on visiting Europe states that a visa or permit may be needed for study.
Will my shopping be more expensive?
The UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement means there will be no tariffs on products sold between the two parties.
This will allow companies on both sides to keep trading in a similar way to now, with the aim to prevent price rises and keeping shelves stocked.
But trade bodies such as the Food and Drink Federation have warned that the last-minute nature of the trade deal, new customs red tape and recent border chaos triggered by the coronavirus pandemic could still lead to price rises.
Shoppers bringing purchases back to the UK from the EU will only avoid having to pay UK duties on goods valued up to £390.
According to the Royal Mail, non-business customers sending goods to EU countries from 1 January will need to fill out customs declarations forms.
Those receiving goods from abroad may have to pay VAT and duties.
Can I still go on a booze cruise to France?
It won’t be a particularly extensive haul if you do.
From January, new allowances will restrict how much alcohol and tobacco can be brought from the EU to the UK for personal consumption without having to pay duty.
The limits on alcohol are 42 litres of beer, 18 litres of still wine and four litres of spirits or nine litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22 per cent strength.
For tobacco the limit is 200 cigarettes.
Additional reporting by Press Association
— to inews.co.uk