Travel tips

ICE explains: How will Brexit affect my holiday? (Updated Jan 2020)

By Emily Ward | Marketing manager at ICE

Brexit – what’s the latest?

MPs have backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan for the UK to leave the EU on 31 January 2020.

They voted in favour of the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill, which is now being scrutinised further by Parliament.

No one knows quite how it’s all going to play out, but to help you prepare for every possible outcome, here’s everything you need to know about travelling to the EU after Brexit.

Will my holiday cost more after Brexit?


The value of the Pound fell significantly after the Brexit vote, and has been volatile ever since. Before the vote, exchanging €500 would have cost you around £350. Now, it will cost you around £433.

If Brexit goes ahead at the end of January without a deal, it’s possible that GBP will fall again, meaning you’ll get even less Euros for your Pound.

The Pound to Euro exchange rate has the biggest impact on the cost of your holiday because most of us choose countries in the Eurozone for our holidays – Spanish beaches, Greek islands, French countryside and Italian cities like Rome and Venice.

Even if you’re heading outside the Eurozone, many currencies are affected by the strength of the US Dollar relative to the Pound, so it will be more expensive to visit more far-flung destinations like the US, Australia, Dubai and Japan. A fall in £:$ will also mean oil and aircraft is more expensive.

How can I get the best exchange rates amid Brexit uncertainty?

1. Choose a cheaper destination

Thanks to factors like lower costs and low performing currencies, there are still quite a few destinations that offer good value for British holidaymakers.

Destinations where Brits can enjoy excellent value include Turkey, South Africa, Poland, Romania and Morocco.

That said, there are still destinations within the Eurozone where you can expect good value for money despite a weakened Pound – you might just have to be a bit savvier about where you go. To find out more, have a read of our Alternative Europe travel guide.

2. Plan ahead

The best way to guard against any negative fallout from Brexit is by planning ahead. Given the volatility of the market, it’s a good idea to prepare for a further drop in GBP by ordering your money sooner rather than later. You’ll also find all our best rates online.

3. Lock in your exchange rate with a prepaid currency card

If you’re worried about exchange rates fluctuating amid Brexit uncertainty, you can load your money onto a prepaid currency card.

One of the benefits of prepaid currency cards is that they lock in your rate at the time you top them up, so you don’t need to worry about losing money if the Pound suddenly crashes. If you’re really savvy, you could even get a travel money card and then wait until sterling is strong to top up your card and guarantee more bang for your buck.

Will I need a visa to travel after Brexit?

The European Council and European Parliament have agreed that UK citizens you won’t need a visa for short trips to the EU after Brexit.

If you want to stay somewhere for longer than 90 days, or to work or study there, you may need a visa or permit.

The specific visa rules for each EU country are yet to be confirmed, but you’ll be able to find specific information closer to the Brexit date for each country on the Government’s foreign travel advice website.

The latest Government advice says that travel to the  EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change if the  UK  leaves the  EU  with no deal. 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 4 months before you go

Whatever happens, travel to Ireland won’t change, so you’ll still be able to study, work and travel there the same as before.

Will I need a new passport after Brexit?


When the UK leaves the EU, new passport rules will apply:

  • You must have at least 6 months left on your passport to travel to most EU countries (i.e. your passport must be no older than nine years and six months on your day of travel to the EU)
  • If you have plans to travel to the EU and your passport was issued on or before 1st October 2009, you may well need to renew your passport. This can take three weeks to process, so make sure you plan ahead. Renewal can be done easily online on the uk website, and cost £75.50.
  • Passports renewed before the UK leaves the EU will be the same colour, but those issued after October will be blue and gold. As well as the new cover, these new passports will feature a stronger, polycarbonate photo page, intended to be more durable and secure.
  • As long as they aren’t damaged and are at least 6 months off expiry, the old red passports will still be valid for all international travel.

Am I OK to book a holiday to Europe?

The Association of British Travel Agents (Abta), which offers advice to travellers and represents travel agents and tour operators says that those who book a package holiday with a UK-based travel company will have “the most comprehensive consumer protection” as they will continue to be covered by Package Travel Regulations.

ABTA advises that: “The best way to protect your holiday is to book a package. It is the travel provider’s responsibility to make sure your holiday is provided and to offer an alternative or refund if it cannot be delivered.”

How will transport be affected?

The government has said that “flights should continue” as they do today, adding: “Both the UK and EU want flights to continue without any disruption.” The government says the following will definitely be unaffected:

  • Flights
  • Ferries and cruises
  • Eurostar and Eurotunnel trains
  • Buses and coach services between the UK and EU
  • Airport security procedures for direct flights to and from the UK

Will the Open Skies Agreement be affected?

The open skies agreement is a particular concern to airlines in the wake of Brexit, as this is the deal that allows aircraft to fly between any two points in Europe.

There had been worries that flights might be grounded over the UK’s decision to leave the European Union next March, but Ryanair’s chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs told the Independent: “You won’t see planes grounded”. However he does fear that we will no longer have “open skies”.

He said: “The British Government has sent out their blueprint for transition and that’s got some positive signs for the industry. That means that until the end of December 2020, the status quo remains the same. What happens after that transition agreement from 1 January 2021 is less certain. The signals are more negative than we would like.”

Ryanair are based out of the UK which means they currently have the advantage of being able to fly anywhere in the EU. In order to qualify for these advantages, airlines must be at least 50 per cent EU-owned and this won’t be the case for Ryanair after the UK exits the EU.

Ryanair introduced a Brexit clause with all tickets purchased from September 2018. The tickets include wording that states flights are “subject to regulatory environment allowing this flight to take place”.

Will my EHIC card still be valid?

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives anyone who carries one access to free or reduced cost medical treatment in another EU member state, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.

This will depend on if we secure a deal with the EU. If we do, your EHIC card will still work. If we don’t, it may no longer be valid.

The official NHS advice is “The EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and you should have both when you travel abroad. It will not cover any private medical healthcare or costs, such as mountain rescue in ski resorts or being flown back to the UK.” 

So while it’s uncertain what the future of EHIC cards, it’s wise to get comprehensive travel insurance to cover you on your next trip.

Will Brexit affect free data roaming?

In June 2017 the European Union scrapped additional charges for roaming on smartphones when you travel to another EU country.

If the UK leaves the EU having agreed a withdrawal agreement that includes a transition period, any changes will not happen straightaway. Pretty much all EU rules and regulations, including mobile roaming charges, will apply until the end of the transition period. Under Theresa May’s deal, that would have ended on 31 December 2020, with options to extend it for one or two years.

To find out what the charges could be after Brexit, speak to your mobile provider.

Will I still be able to drive in Europe?

You’ll still be able to drive in Europe whatever happens with Brexit. Just make sure you have your UK driving license and your V5C (log book) if you’re taking your own car. However, if there’s no deal, you’ll need some extra documents:

  • An International Driving Permit (this will only be required for some countries – find out if it applies to your travel destination here).
  • A free ‘green card’ (only needed if you’re taking your own vehicle. This can take up to a month to get from your insurance company).
  • A GB sticker (if you’re taking your own car).

See the website for more information.

Will travelling with pets be affected?

After Brexit you will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme.

Instead you’ll need to follow a different process, which takes 4 months. Check out the Government website for more guidance about  pet travel to Europe after Brexit.

What happens to package holidays I have booked in advance?

Any package holidays you have booked will be fully protected under the Package Travel Regulations.

This means that even if the travel company goes out of business, you’ll be fully compensated, regardless of what happens with Brexit.

Will Europeans have a negative view of Brits abroad after Brexit?

Some Brits are concerned that they’ll be viewed negatively by Europeans because of Brexit.

While it’s impossible to predict how Brexit will change attitudes in the long-term, it’s important to remember that British holidaymakers are very valued by the tourist industries in many European countries – who will want Brits to continue travelling to their countries and spending their money.

If you’re interested in finding out more about European attitudes to Brexit, The Telegraph recently rounded-up common reactions to Brexit which is an interesting read.

The Telegraph reports that Belgium, for example, “…are bemused and dismayed by Brexit, but not much surprised. They have a great admiration for Britain – its deep history, historic support of Belgium, good rock music – but they are also familiar with its eccentric, stubborn and sometimes frankly rude and uncivil side.”

Only time will tell on how relations between Britain and Europe will develop in the future.

Will I still be able to take out money out from cashpoints abroad?

Yes, you can continue to take out cash, as normal.

What other travel plans might be affected after Brexit?

When passing through border control in an EU country, you may have 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 queuing

Also, when travelling between the UK and any other country, you may now need to declare cash of £10,000 or more.

For more advice on preparing for Brexit, head to the help page.

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