There have been some big changes in Europe and the UK recently. If you happen to live anywhere on that continent, you will know exactly what we’re talking about. But for everyone else, here’s a quick catch up, in case you missed the news.
As of January 2021, the UK is officially no longer part of the European Union or EU. You might have heard the term ‘Brexit’ being thrown around, as in ‘Britain’s Exit’ from the EU. Not Europe – the UK is still geographically part of the European continent. But politically, it has left a union made up of 26 other nations.
This change in the relationship between the UK and this big gang of other European nations has all sorts of practical implications for people wanting to travel, work and do business between Britain and the EU – some big, some minor. Mostly, these changes affect British and EU citizens. But there are also a few knock-on effects worth raising for anyone from the rest of the world planning on doing any traveling around Europe (post-COVID pandemic, of course).
From a traveler’s point of view, one of the great things about the EU is the relaxed or open borders that exist between member states. So if you land in, say, France, you have complete freedom to go explore Spain, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic and every other EU country without being stopped and quizzed at every border.
This is particularly beneficial if you are planning to hang around in Europe long enough to need a visa – especially if you plan to work while you are there – or if you happen to be from a country that requires a visa to enter the EU full stop. It’s a case of presenting all of your paperwork once on entry, and that’s it. No more long waits to have your credentials checked as you move from country to country.
Now, it should be pointed out that the UK never signed up to the full ‘open borders’ policy, known as the Schengen Area, that the other 26 states agreed to. That means you’ve always had to go through border control traveling back and forth between the UK and the rest of the EU.
But even so, because of the shared visa arrangements, it was very easy (and common) to use the UK as a hub for some long-term travel across the rest of Europe. That is still going to be possible, of course. But there are likely to be added complications.
New visa rules
We’re still in the early stages of what travel to a non-EU Britain looks like (and no one is doing much traveling right now, anyway). But the UK will start to roll out its own visa rules and arrangements at some point and you will need to be up to speed with both to travel between the UK and Europe.
For example, from 2022 the EU is launching a paid-for electronic entry authorization system similar to the ESTA in the United States. This will not grant you permission to travel to the UK. Another important change for long-term travelers is that an EU work visa will not give you the right to pick up a job in the UK. You might have to think more carefully about where you want to base yourself for the majority of the trip.
Other possible changes are to things like travel insurance. Instead of buying a single policy for travel anywhere in Europe, you might find certain providers start to make exemptions and require you to purchase UK-only policies if you want to head there.
This is because the EU, for example, has very clear and consumer-friendly rules on things like flight and package holiday refunds that no longer apply to UK companies, which changes the game for insurance companies in terms of paying out for cancellations.
Given the risk of having your travel plans trashed by COVID-19 lockdowns and ever-changing rules from one place to the next, it’s definitely a good idea to get the right type of cancellation cover wherever you are traveling to.
To find out more, visit Avanti Travel Insurance.