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The Motorists' Guide
  • Driving in Europe from 1 January 2021

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    The Motorists Guide

    Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change from 1 January 2021.

    Things you may need to do before you go include:

    • check your passport
    • get travel insurance that covers your healthcare
    • check you have the right driving documents
    • organise pet travel - contact your vet at least 1 month before you go

    There are more things to do if you’re travelling for business. For example, going to meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity), and touring art or music.

    Passports: check if you need to renew

    You may need to renew your British passport earlier if you’re travelling from 1 January 2021.

    On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:

    • have at least 6 months left
    • be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)

    If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.

    You can check whether your passport is valid for the country you’re visiting.

    Healthcare: check you’re covered

    You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad.

    Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020.

    It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.

    Entering other countries

    Border control: you may have to show your return ticket and money

    At border control, you may need to:

    • show a return or onward ticket
    • show you have enough money for your stay
    • use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing

    Visas for short trips: you will not need one if you’re a tourist

    If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

    Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.

    You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

    Travel to Ireland will not change from 1 January 2021. You’ll also be able to work in Ireland in the same way as before.

    Taking food and drink into EU countries

    You will not be able to take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries from 1 January 2021.

    There are some exceptions, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons. Check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

    Taking plants and plant products into EU countries

    You’ll need a certificate to take certain plants and plant products into EU countries from 1 January 2021. Check the rules about taking plants and plant products into the EU on the European Commission website.


    There may be changes from 1 January 2021. What these are depend on how you’re travelling.
    However you travel, check before you leave for any delays or disruption.


    You may need extra documents from 1 January 2021.

    You might need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries.

    If you’re taking your own vehicle, you will also need a ‘green card’ and a GB sticker.

    Compensation if your travel is disrupted

    Some travel insurance policies only cover certain types of disruption. Check your provider’s terms and conditions to make sure you have the cover you need if your travel is cancelled or delayed.

    Your consumer rights will not change from 1 January 2021. This means that if your travel is cancelled or delayed you may be able to claim a refund or compensation. Check your booking’s terms and conditions to find out more.

    Pet travel: allow at least 1 month to arrange

    From 1 January 2021 you will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. Instead, you’ll need an animal health certificate (AHC) for your pet. Allow at least 1 month to arrange this and relevant vaccinations.

    Follow the guidance about pet travel to Europe from 1 January 2021.

    Mobile roaming: free roaming may end

    From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end.

    Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.

    A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing.

    Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.

    If your travel company goes out of business

    You’re protected if you buy a package holiday and the company goes out of business. You get this cover even if it’s an EU company, as long as the company targets UK customers.

    Otherwise, you can claim compensation if you used your credit card. You’ll continue to be able to claim for payments between £100 and £30,000.


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