Brexit and the transition: What you need to know about crossing the UK border and visiting the UK from 1 January 2021
The future of reciprocal arrangements between the UK and European Union are ongoing and subject to negotiations. Please ensure you check the official UK Government website for updates prior to travelling.
ID cards and visas
Will anything change for EU, EEA or Swiss citizens?
What you’ll need to enter the UK will not change until 1 October 2021.
Before that date, if you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you can continue to travel to the UK for holidays or short-term trips, without needing a visa.
You will need to show a valid passport or a national identity card if you’re a citizen of either:
- an EU country
- Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
You will not be able to use your EEA or Swiss national ID card to enter the UK from 1 October 2021.
You can continue to use your national ID card to enter the UK until at least 31 December 2025 if you:
- have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- have a frontier worker permit
- are an S2 Healthcare Visitor
- are a Swiss Service Provider
Can EU/EEA/Swiss citizens still enter the UK with a passport that expires in less than six months?
You can still enter the UK using a passport which expires in less than 6 months. Find out more about entering the UK.
How long will EU, EEA and Swiss citizens be able to stay in the UK without a visa?
Currently, if you’re an EU, EEA and Swiss citizen, you can continue to travel to the UK for holidays or short-term trips without needing a visa. You can, in most cases, come to the UK for up to six months. You may enter the UK multiple times during that period, but you may not in effect live in the UK by means of repeat or continuous visits. You may not work or access public funds. Currently you may not study for more than 30 days. Please see the official government website for further information.
Can EU/EEA/Swiss citizens visiting the UK still use eGates?
You can use automatic eGates at some airports if you have a biometric symbol on the cover of your passport and you are 12 or over. Using the eGates is usually faster. Find out how to get through border checks as quickly as possible.
Will there be an ESTA system that travellers will have to fill in? If so, will there be any costs involved with the ESTA form?
As part of this phased programme to 2025, the Government will introduce an Electronic Travel Authorisation scheme as part of plans to ensure that all those coming to the UK have permission to do so in advance of travel. Please check for updates, as further details of these arrangements will be provided in due course.
The Government will introduce Electronic Travel Authorisations (ETAs) for visitors and passengers transiting through the UK who do not currently need a visa for short stays or who do not already have an immigration status prior to travelling.
Will anything change for non-EU/EEA citizens?
Nothing will change for non-EU/EEA visitors immediately after the transition period ends. Find out if you’ll need to apply for a visa to enter the UK.
School children visiting the UK
Will collective visas for school groups still apply?
For the latest updates on collective visas, please check government guidance for school children entering the UK as part of a school group. This explains the steps leaders of school parties must take before bringing school children to the UK as part of a school group from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, if they would normally need a visa to enter the UK.
Will the “List of Travellers” still be available?
Non-EEA national school children resident in the EEA or Switzerland will continue to be able to travel to the UK under the List of Travellers scheme until at least 2021. Please visit the official government website for further information.
Will children travelling to Britain for language courses also need a passport?
Yes, children travelling to the UK for language courses will also need a passport.
Border crossings and ferry terminals
What will the impact of Brexit be at borders/ferry terminals?
Flights: Flights will continue and you should not experience any difference in security screening.
Eurostar/rail: When travelling between the UK and the EU, your rights as a rail passenger using either domestic or cross-border rail services will remain unchanged.
Ferry services: The EU regulation on passengers’ rights is now UK law. It will continue to protect passengers on ferry services.
For further information on travel and passenger rights, and measures in place to minimise disruption, please see the official government information page.
How will border controls be managed when passengers are coming from Ireland?
The Common Travel Area (CTA) is a long-standing arrangement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies (Bailiwick of Jersey, Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Isle of Man) and Ireland that pre-dates both British and Irish membership of the EU and is not dependent on it. As a result, there will continue to be no routine immigration controls on journeys from within Ireland to the UK, with no immigration controls at all on the Northern Ireland – Ireland land border. The Government will continue to work closely with CTA partners to facilitate legitimate travel within the CTA while tackling abuse of these arrangements. You can check the common travel area guidance information page for additional details.
Will the Channel Islands, including Jersey and Guernsey, be exempt from passport requirements?
The Channel Islands, including Jersey and Guernsey, are part of the Common Travel Area (CTA) of the UK and therefore maintain the same changes and standard of immigration control as the UK.
Healthcare for EU citizens visiting the UK
The future of reciprocal healthcare arrangements between the UK and European Union are subject to negotiations. Please check the official government guidance for further information and updates.
What will EU citizens visiting the UK need to bring?
If you’re an EU citizen visiting the UK make sure you:
- bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you
- have travel insurance that covers the duration of your trip – an EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance because it does not cover everything
- EEA and Swiss citizens visiting the UK should check the guidance on healthcare for the latest information on access to NHS healthcare.
Will European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) be phased out?
There will be no changes to healthcare access for residents of the EU, Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland who visit the UK before the end of 2020. You can continue to use your EHIC until the end of 2020 as you do now. You should make sure you bring your EHIC with you when visiting the UK. The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both when you travel to the UK. You should check your insurance has the necessary healthcare coverage to make sure you can get the treatment you need during your visit.
Please check healthcare for EU citizens visiting the UK for updates on changes following 1 January 2021. Please note, the information on EHICs is from gov.uk but is specific to England. The way visitors access healthcare in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could be different from England, so please check the relevant websites for further information.
Do EU citizens need travel insurance when they visit the UK?
The government advises visitors to the UK to take out travel insurance. This means that you can reclaim any healthcare costs you are required to pay from your insurer.
Check your insurance has the necessary healthcare coverage to make sure you can get the treatment you need during your visit.
For further details, please ensure you check for updates on healthcare for EU citizens visiting the UK before you travel.
Bringing pets to and from the UK
Will EU citizens still be able to bring their pet to the UK?
There will be no change to the current health preparations for pets entering Great Britain from the EU from 1 January 2021.
Your pet must have one of the following documents when entering to Great Britain:
- an EU pet passport (issued in the EU or in the UK before 1 January 2021)
- the AHC issued in Great Britain used to travel to the EU (which you can use up to 4 months after it was issued)
- a UK pet health certificate (for travel into the UK only)
Your pet will not need this documentation if it is entering Great Britain from:
- Northern Ireland
- the Channel Islands
- the Isle of Man
You must travel using approved routes, so please check the routes before you travel. Your pet’s documents and microchip will be checked when entering Great Britain. Different rules apply in Northern Ireland.
Owners of assistance dogs entering from the EU do not have to travel on approved routes but they must notify the point of entry in advance that they are travelling with an assistance dog to ensure the appropriate checks are done.
You do not have to travel on an approved route if you travel to Great Britain from:
- other UK countries
- the Channel Islands
- the Isle of Man
- the Republic of Ireland
Talk to your vet about what preparations you need to make before you travel from these places.
Find out more about pet travel to Europe, including information on travel from countries not free from tapeworm.
Bringing goods into the UK
What can visitors bring into the UK?
What you can bring into the UK varies depending on whether you are visiting from an EU country or from outside the EU. Visit the official government website for further details on bringing goods into the UK.
Driving in the UK
Can visitors with a non-UK driving licence still drive in the UK?
If you have a non-UK driving licence you are able to drive in the UK. You do not need an international driving permit (IDP).
What will visitors whose vehicle is not insured in the UK need in order to drive?
If you have vehicle insurance issued in the EU, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia or Switzerland, you do not need to carry an insurance green card, but carrying other valid proof of insurance is advised.
To be valid, other proof of insurance must be a document issued by the insurer of the vehicle, which includes the:
- name of the insurer
- number plate or other identifying particulars of the vehicle
- period of insurance cover
Contact your vehicle insurer before you travel.
If your vehicle is insured in a country outside the EU, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia or Switzerland, what you’ll need to do will depend on if your country is a member of the green card system.
If your country is a member, you will need to carry a green card.
If your country is not a member, your vehicle will need UK vehicle insurance.
Using mobile phones in the UK
Can visitors from the EU use their mobile phone in the UK?
You’ll pay the same for calls, texts and mobile data in the UK and the EU if you have a SIM card issued by a mobile phone network from an EU or EEA country.