Pets, passports – and pet passports – Brexit uncertainty is proving a bit confusing for holiday-makers.
If you’re feeling baffled by Brexit, you can rest easy in the knowledge that almost our entire political establishment is just as perplexed as you are.
Theresa May’s deal has been overwhelmingly voted down, but could, in some form, still happen; no deal has been rejected by Parliament, but could, in certain circumstances, still happen; a second referendum has been ruled out by all and sundry, but could, in some situations, still happen.
Brexit confusion, it seems, is the modern condition.
But in the meantime, while the votes stack up and the days tick down, we normal folk have holidays to plan, insurance to settle, and pets to transport.
We asked Rory Boland, travel editor for independent consumer group Which?, to answer some of the Brexit travel questions most Googled by the public.
What will happen to my passport after Brexit?
“This is a big and complex question. It is possible that an extension to Article 50 could be agreed, meaning that the way we travel won’t change during the extra time it is in place.
“However, if the UK leaves with no deal on March 19, estimates suggest that millions of UK passports won’t be valid for travel to Schengen Area countries, including France, Italy and Spain.
“Despite previous advice that just six months of validity would be required on people’s passports, the Government has now confirmed that some passport holders with up to 15 months of validity will need to renew their passports early – 1.5 million of which are expected to travel this spring or summer.
“That’s because until recently UK citizens who renewed their passport up to nine months before expiration had the remaining months added to their new passports, meaning a UK passport could be valid for a maximum of 10 years and nine months.
“Under existing Schengen Area rules, passport holders from non EU countries aren’t able to use time carried over from an old passport, and in the event of a no deal, this rule would automatically apply to all passport holders from the UK.
“Because Schengen rules also require that passports must have at least six months validity on the day of travel and must have been renewed within the last 10 years, some people with 15 months to run on their travel documents risk being caught out.
“Anyone who is refused travel because their passport isn’t valid won’t be entitled to rebooking, compensation or a refund. We’re urging anyone who’s unsure to check the validity of their travel documents before they run out of time to renew.”
Will I need a visa to travel after Brexit?
“Not immediately, even in the case of a no deal. While UK passport holders will become ‘third country nationals’ [meaning people in transit in the EU] in a no deal, the EU has said UK tourists will be able to travel visa-free in the EU until 2021. This will include visits of up to 90 days over a six-month period, and could span one or several different trips to different countries.
“In 2021, it is likely that the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) would be introduced for UK tourists. This is likely to be similar to the ESTA visa that is required for travel to America – a short, online application form completed 72 hours before travel.”
Will my travel insurance cover problems caused by Brexit?
“It’s a mixed bag – some insurers say yes, others say no. Our advice is to pick one that says yes. Insurer Direct Line has confirmed to us that its standard policy would cover Brexit-related cancellations or disruption, while Aviva and Saga have said the same publicly.
“Make sure that any policy you take out includes cover for travel disruption – some cheaper policies do not – and buy insurance at the time of booking rather than the time of travel.
“In the event of a no deal, the EHIC card arrangement, which offered free emergency healthcare treatment to UK holidaymakers in many EU countries, will end. In the future, agreements on EHIC could be struck on a country to country basis, but this is not in place at the moment and may not be in place for some time. You’ll therefore need to make sure that whatever travel insurance you take out provides adequate cover for your medical needs.”
Can I take my pet on holiday after we leave the EU?
“If there is a no deal, extra veterinary checks will be needed for pet passports, which could be a time consuming process. The Government is advising that if people want to take their pet abroad, they need to see their vet at least four months in advance of travel.
The new rules do not apply when travelling to Ireland.”