Traveling to Europe post-Brexit? Flight, passport and visa changes explained

There is plenty of speculation about what it means for all aspects of our lives, even though the exact detail is yet to surface.

Despite the fall in the value of the pound, Brexit has had little impact on travel insurers as the industry is accustomed to dealing with currency fluctuations.

The vote this summer, however, has dealt a blow to the European travel industry.

Numbers of tourists holidaying in the EU have plummeted as a result of higher prices on the continent and the pound suffering a significant slump since June, although it has managed to bounce back a little in that time.

The long-term impact of Brexit will go further afield than financials.

Express.co.uk has spoken to travel insurance provider Columbus Direct to address three key concerns for UK citizens travelling to the EU in a post-Brexit world.

Flight compensation

Delays, cancellations and overbooking are the three worst case scenarios for anyone catching a flight, but knowing that compensation is available can provide some much needed comfort.

Frequent travellers, or those unfortunate enough to experience delays over two hours, will know that compensation can range from refreshment vouchers at one end of the spectrum, to substantial cash compensation at the other.

These are provided by the airline as a reimbursement for the customer’s inconvenience, but many people don’t realise these forms of compensation are in fact covered by EU legislation.

The European Commission Regulation 261/2004, otherwise known as the EU Passenger Rights Directive, rules what an airline must do in the event of a delay of two or more hours.

Depending on the duration of the delay, this ranges from meals and assistance to contact people, to accommodation and the option for a full refund.

In addition, unless the delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances such as bad weather or crew strikes, airlines have to provide financial compensation over and above what they are obligated to provide.

It is not clear how the UK would like to regulate that in the post-Brexit world of travel, but without the protection of the EU ruling, customers facing compensation battles may find it harder to claim for larger cash compensation when travelling to countries outside the EU.

Passports

UK passengers are used to being able to quickly go through passport control when travelling to European countries. However it’s hard to ignore the golden capital EUROPEAN UNION at the top of the passport cover.

As each holiday season looms closer to the impending Brexit, many holidaymakers are asking what this will do for passports.

So far, the government has said there will be ‘no immediate action’ on the renewal or revival of UK passports, however many ‘Brexiteers’ are calling for the return of the blue passports, in all their pre-EU glory.

Although the colour of the passport may seem a trivial issue in the wake of Brexit to some, a common worry may be the prospect of the ‘Non EU Citizen’ lengthy queue at border control.

A redesign of the UK passport would seem likely to erase the nod to the EU on the cover.

But it’s unlikely there will be a recall of all current passports, so anyone who has recently renewed will probably be safe from an early renewal. A recall of the 42.5 million UK passports would clearly present a potential logistical nightmare for the Passport Office.

Visas

Booking that spontaneous European city break could be that little bit harder when the UK leaves the EU if it’s decided visas will be required to visit the continent. Depending on the process and the country, visas can take up to a month to get hold of for a holiday outside the EU. That’s the beauty of Europe; less than a day before travel and you can book your last minute escapes.

But what about the post-Brexit world? The true implications of Brexit will unfold in time, but looking to the not so extreme, it is plausible that UK citizens might need visas to travel around Europe.

Along with the potential dissolution of the Shengen agreement, multiple visas may be needed to travel across previously open borders.

The Home Secretary Amber Rudd has already suggested Brits going abroad may be required to pay ‘holiday tax’, something similar to the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) scheme enforced in America.

The Shengen area is already in discussions to form the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), which would mean payments for all those visiting member nations who don’t belong to the single market.

Another aspect worth mentioning, in addition to the three areas above, is mobile phone roaming charges.

The European Parliament has agreed to abolish roaming charges as of 15 June 2017 to prevent EU consumers from being caught out by huge phone bills when travelling within the EU.

But once the UK has left the 28-member bloc, UK travellers might again find themselves paying higher mobile roaming charges during their European holidays or business trips.

Columbus Direct says it’s doubtful there will be any immediate actions affecting those traveling to Europe in the next year.

However, it is important to be mindful of the changes that may come about when Britain is no longer an official EU member and be aware of the potential extra costs and efforts when traveling to Europe.

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