How will Brexit affect you?

The UK has now left the European Union. Here's how it could affect your finances and travel.

Updated . What changed?

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Now the transition period is over and the UK has officially left the EU, there are some key changes you’ll see (though coronavirus travel restrictions mean you may not encounter some of them for a while).

What will change for UK laws and regulations?

Parliament can change any UK laws and regulations previously enforced by the EU.

It may decide to change some, or indeed many, of these laws. Any changes will require a vote by parliament, though, so don’t expect the EU regulations to suddenly disappear, leaving a Wild West of unregulated areas.

How will Brexit affect the value of the pound?

While the dust is still settling, it’s too early to say.

  • If the pound goes down. It becomes more expensive for Brits to travel abroad. Imported goods’ prices are also likely to increase, because UK retailers and companies spend more to purchase the same products, and in many cases will pass the increase down to the customers. Among the top 20 commodities imported by the UK are cars, medicines, clothes, vegetables and fruit, and meat – so a fall in the value of sterling may have very concrete consequences for your daily budget. At the same time, it makes the UK cheaper for travellers from abroad, potentially attracting more tourists, once coronavirus travel restrictions are lifted.
  • If the pound goes up. It becomes cheaper to travel abroad and imported goods may become less expensive – but companies that sell goods abroad also become less competitive.

Our Brexit exchange rate tracker shows you how the pound has been doing in the last couple of years and which political events seem to have influenced its value.

How will Brexit affect my holidays?

From January, UK nationals will only be able to travel without a visa to “Schengen area” countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. “Schengen” countries are those who have signed the Schengen Agreement, which allows border-free passage between signatory states – including most EU nations, as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

You’ll also need to have at least six months left on your passport, except for trips to Ireland.

You’ll no longer be able to use EU fast-track passport control and customs lanes when you arrive in an EU country (except Ireland), and you may have to show your return ticket. You might also be asked to show that you have enough money for your stay.

Finally, the current EU pet passport scheme no longer applies. So if you’re travelling with your pet, make sure you’ve got an animal health certificate (AHC) from your vet. Give yourself at least a month to arrange this, as well as all the necessary vaccinations.

Can I still use my mobile in the EU?

While the biggest UK operators have said they don’t plan to reintroduce roaming charges, this could change. So make sure you’ve checked roaming charges with your mobile provider before you go.

Do I need travel insurance to travel to the EU after Brexit?

Travel insurance is still a personal choice, and you probably won’t be under any obligation to get it – but it’s always a good idea to get it, regardless. This is not only to protect yourself against any health accidents, but also, as we’ve seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, in case something else doesn’t go according to plan.

Your current EHIC card will be valid until its expiry date and will be replaced by a new scheme, but the government still advises you to get travel insurance with health cover.

Is my EHIC card still valid after Brexit?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is being phased out and replaced by a new, free Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

Just like the EHIC, the GHIC entitles you to the same treatment at state-run hospitals and GPs in the EU that locals are entitled to, at the same cost. The only real difference between the two is the name.

If you currently have an EHIC, you can continue to use it in the EU until the card expires, even if that’s years away. Make sure when you apply for a GHIC that you use the official government’s website, which will always be free. Some companies have set up official-looking sites that will charge you for a card which is free.

Even with an EHIC or GHIC, as we’ve said above, it’s still wise to get travel insurance, since this gives you much broader cover if things go wrong on your trip.

Will I need a visa to travel to the EU after Brexit?

If you’re going on holiday, you won’t need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

You’ll be able to stay in the EU for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. So, for example, an Easter weekend in France, followed by a fortnight’s holiday in Italy in June, would be covered by your 90-day limit.

This 90-day limit doesn’t apply if you’re visiting non-Schengen countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, though. You can visit any of these for up to 90 days without using up any of your allowance.

If you want to stay for longer than 90 days in any European country – to work or study, for example – you may need a visa or permit. In addition, from 2022, UK nationals will have to pay for a visa-waiver scheme in order to visit many European countries.

The only exception to these rules is Ireland, where you can travel to and work in just the same way as before 1 January 2021.

Do I need a new passport?

No. Your current passport will be valid as long as it is less than 10 years old and it has 6 months left before it runs out. If you need a new passport, make sure you apply in plenty of time.

The six-month rule won’t apply for visits to Ireland.

Can I drive in the EU after Brexit?

If you have a UK driving licence and are visiting the EU:

  • If you travel with your own car, you need to make sure you have your driving licence, your car’s V5C logbook and a GB sticker on your number plate.
  • You’ll also need a “green card”, which certifies that your car insurance covers the minimum cover in the country you’re driving in. You can get a green card for free, usually from your insurance provider, but don’t leave it until the last minute, as it may take a while to get it.
  • If you’re travelling in a car you’ve hired or leased, in addition to all the above you’ll need to take VE103 form. This proves you can take the car out of the UK.

However, bear in mind that you might need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have either a paper driving licence or a licence that was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man. An IDP costs £5.50 and can be bought at the Post Office.

If you’re a UK citizen living in an EU country, the government’s advice is to change your UK driving licence for an EU one, and to do it as soon as possible, so you can carry on driving there.

If you’re an EU citizen and living/driving in the UK nothing changes, and your European driving licence will still be valid. After you’ve been a British resident for three years, you’ll need to apply for a UK driving licence (no change from the pre-Brexit arrangement).

Will Brexit affect my private pension?

In most cases, Brexit won’t affect a private pension, at least not in the immediate future. The UK pension market is mostly domestic, made of British pension funds managing British people’s pensions. However, there are a couple of things to consider:

  • European pension funds operating in the UK. There aren’t many of these, but they operate in the UK only because their licence is “passported” thanks to EU regulations.
  • Pensions fund investments. Pension funds’ results are closely tied to the UK economy. There has been no lack of attempts to predict Brexit’s impact on it, but again, it’s impossible to actually say anything about it beforehand, and much will depend on the final deal. However, if British economy were to sustain a major blow, it is highly likely that many invested pensions would also be impacted.

We’ll keep updating this page as more information emerges, to help you stay ahead.

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