EU Travel 2021 - Passport | Driving | Insurance - What you need to know....

A picture of the main street in the beautiful Scottish town of Pitlochry

Travel plans to EU counties from Jan 1st 2021 mean taking a bit more time to prepare to ensure your travel arrangements got to plan!

Our easy to read tips and information on Brexit travel changes that can affect British Passports, Driving Licences/Driving Abroad and Travel Insurance can help to ensure you have everything prepared in advance of travel.


a passport

When travelling to EU countries from Jan 1st 2021, you will have to ensure your passport meets the new guidelines otherwise you may be refused entry to the country you are travelling to. However, though that might sound stark, as long as you make the necessary checks and preparations well in advance, you should be travelling problem-free.

So what do I need to know - The HM Passport Office has now advised, if you’re planning to travel to a Schengen area European country from Jan 1st 2021, you will need to have at least six months remaining on your passport on date you arrive in the country you are travelling to.

So in other words, if your passport will be 9 years and 6 months old on your date of travel, you will need to renew it in advance of travel and have your new passport present when you travel! These conditions apply to all adult and child passports.

Check your passport - HM Passport Office has made a tool available to allow you to check to ensure your passport will be valid for your journey – Check Now. You will need details from your passport to enter on to the web tool to carry out the check, which takes a minute or two to complete.

Renewing your passport - If you need to renew your passport, give yourself plenty of time to prepare should this situation arise. It's worth remembering that with the current Covid 19 pandemic and the rush for people looking to renew their passport, the processing times for passport issuing may take considerably longer. Therefore extra time should be planned in before your travel dates. You can easily renew your passport online, by yourself, without paying for a third party to do it for you. Click Here and start the process.

UK citizens travelling to Ireland can continue to do so as before, as the new policy rules do not affect your travel plans to Ireland. They remain as they did before.

Those countries that will impose the new rules are in the Schengen area and are as follows:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland.

Other European countries that are not in the Schengen area are: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, may have their own entry requirements which you should check prior to booking and travelling. You can check the entry status here.

For any concerns and issues you have regardless of where you are planning to travel to, you may want to speak to a specialist travel consultant or check the following websites for the latest and official travel information - HM Passport OfficeABTA

EU Driving & Hired Cars 

Car driving in the EU with EU flag attached

Driving your own car in the EU from Jan 1st 2021 will require you to make additional arrangements to ensure you comply with the policy rules of the country you are driving in or through. Bear in mind that each country may have its own rules, so not all countries may be the same.

Though all the details and changes have yet been fully revealed from governments, we know the following requirements and documents may need to have in place and in your possession when you drive your car or a hired vehicle from the UK to another EU country:

  1. You will still need your UK driving licence.
  2. You may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) which you can get from any post office and will cost around £5.50. It is worth remembering that you may need a separate permit for each county that you are driving through. You will not reed a IDP for driving in Ireland. To obtain an IDP, you must be over 18, have a full driving licence and be a UK or Northern Ireland Resident.
  3. Your certificate of motor insurance.
  4. You vehicles logbook (VC5).
  5. A Green Card - A Green Card is an internationally recognised document that shows you have the required vehicle insurance required for the country you are visiting. Your insurance company should be able to issue this for you, but you will have to give them plenty of notice to ensure you have it in time before you travel. You can also call the AA 0370 060 0137 who can issue a Green Card free of charge for you. Please call them at least 14 working days prior to travelling.   

Driving a hired car in the EU From Jan 1st 2021 will also mean some additional changes and requirements. These are as follows:

  1. You will need to have your UK driving licence. Additionally, you may be required to produce the DVLA Code which lets the car hire company login and view what would have once been the paper part of your licence. This effectively lets the hire car company see, the classes of vehicle you are permitted to drive, lets them see if you have any penalty points or disqualifications. If you don't have a Code or are not willing to share your Coded details, vehicle hire may be declined. Always check the hire car companies requirements. You can obtain a Driving Licence Code - HERE   
  2. You may need an International Driving Permit (IDP) which you can get from any post office and will cost around £5.50. It is worth remembering that you may need a separate permit for each county that you are driving through. You will not reed an IDP for driving in Ireland. To obtain an IDP, you must be over 18, have a full driving licence and be a UK or Northern Ireland Resident.
  3. You will NOT be required to obtain a Green Card when hiring a car in the EU.
  4. Tip - If you hire a vehicle in the EU and do not take out the full insurance, the hiring company require to hod an amount of money on a credit card to cover any excesses. Please note, the credit card in most cases must be in the name of the person who is hiring the vehicle. If not, you will be asked to leave a high cash deposit.

For further information, to check all the latest details and any further changes to the new UK/EU policy rules check  Gov.UK or the AA who also have so great resources on their website.

Travel Insurance

Image of insurance documents

Never will it be more critical to have Travel Insurance next time you head to the EU. Until now, UK citizens have enjoyed the reciprocal use of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) which allows you access to state medical aid in the EU country you are visiting.

But from Jan 1st 2020, the EHIC card will only be valid for a very small group of UK citizens, such as UK pensioners living in an EU country, UK students studying in an EU country or EU nationals in the UK.

This means that, if you are abroad anywhere EU or Internationally you must have travel insurance. If you need any medical attention, be it a doctor/consultant or hospital admission, you will have to pay for this from your own resources if you do not have a good quality travel insurance policy.  

According to reports, the UK government is working on new arrangements with EU countries that will cover British tourists medical costs whilst abroad. But this has not yet been finalised. 

For further information from Gov.UK and to check the latest details click HERE Or for more information on Travel Insurance click HERE



NOTE - Information contained in this article was accurate at the time of publishing and should be used for guidance only. Whilst we make every effort to keep our information up to date, public information is constantly changing and therefore, no responsibility will be accepted if this information becomes out of date or which warrants this information to be inaccurate.

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