The new rules for visiting Europe in 2021

by | | Post Views 1524 views

Running alongside restrictions and updating advice about coronavirus is also the new rules on travel to Europe post-Brexit which will come into effect on 1st January 2021. This has largely gone unnoticed but if you are planning to get away in the new year then you should be aware of the new rules.

At the moment travel to Europe is restricted until 2nd December 2020. If lockdown is lifted then you may be able to travel to EU countries, particularly the ones on the Governments travel corridor list which will be updated at the time. Some rules are different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but all up to date travel information can be found on the UK Governments Foreign travel advice website. However, some things are set to change at the beginning of next year and we provide a summary below.

Personal travel

For personal travel such as holidays or visiting friends and family, some rules have changed and there are certain things to be aware of:

Check your passport

From 1st January your passport will need to have at least 6 months validity and be less than 10 years old (This does not apply for travel to Ireland where your passport must be valid for the length of your stay). You can check your passport validity here.

Get Insured

Get travel insurance that covers healthcare because the old EHIC system will end on 31st December 2020. If you don’t have valid insurance you may find it difficult to get healthcare while you are visiting another country. It’s also important to do your research and get the right cover particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition.


If you are taking a car you must make sure you have the right driving documents. You may need to obtain an International Driving Permit to drive in some countries. There are different regulations for different types of vehicle and whether you are travelling for work or leisure. For a full explanation of the new rules and any important updates you can check out the FCDO driving in Europe guidance.

If you are travelling by train across Europe you should check out the border control arrangements for each country you intend to visit especially if your trip will be longer than 90 days. You will find lots of useful information, all the latest guidance and ticket information on the Trainline website.


If you plan to take your pet with you then you must organise pet travel. The old pet passport scheme is coming to an end and new rules will be in place and the process takes 4 months!  It is recommended that you contact your vet at least 4 months before you travel to obtain the necessary travel documents.

Border control

There may be some changes at border control when you arrive at another country. These rules are in place in many non-EU countries anyway and could apply to some European countries. For example, you may have to show a return or onward ticket, show that you have enough money for your stay and use separate lanes from UE and EEA citizens.  

Will you need a visa?

You will not need a visa to travel to EU countries providing you are a tourist and not staying for more than 90 days in any 180 day period. This also applies to Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway. Slightly different rules apply to Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus where visits to other EU countries don’t count towards the 90 day total.

Travel to Ireland will not change from 1st January and you are also able to work in the Country the same as before.

Mobile phones

Free roaming may end. You may no longer get the automatic message from your phone operator that you will pay no more than usual for using your phone in the country you are in! There is a new law which means you cannot get more than £45 worth of data charges without you knowing and being given the option to opt out of the service.

After 1st January, check with your mobile phone operator for their rules on using your phone abroad.

Business trips

If you are visiting an EU country for business and/or work then there are more things you may have to consider. These may include entry requirements, qualification checks and documentation to take certain goods in and out. You can find all updated advice on FCDO business travel page.


Although negotiations are still ongoing and things could well be subject to further change, on the face of it not really that much is going to be different. Yes it’s important that you are familiar with the new rules but it will still be a lot easier to travel to European countries than some other countries in the world. Hopefully in the near future we can look forward to unrestricted travel not just to Europe but the USA and the rest of the world too. And don’t forget when you do come to take your well earned trip we can show you the best deals on whatever currency you need.

Posted by Graham Morley

Graham Morley

Graham is the Business Development Manager for Compare Holiday Money.


  • Avatar Geoff Venn says:

    Well explained and very useful information to make our travel arrangements for 2021
    less complicated than we thought.

  • Graham Morley Graham Morley says:

    Thanks for your comment Geoff and we’re glad you found it useful!

  • Avatar ANGELA HEMMINGS says:

    How about if we wish to send a parcel to europe? will it need any paperwork as we do with Norway and Switzerland – sticker on back of pkt. Or will we require more as Internatuional post?

  • Graham Morley Graham Morley says:

    Hi Angela
    Thanks for your comment. Some advice on the Parcelforce website states “At the moment, if you send goods or gifts to another country in the EU they do not need to go through customs. However, after the Brexit ‘Transition Period’ ends on 31st December 2020, the EU may treat exports from the UK as it does from non-EU countries today. For all Parcelforce Worldwide services, a CP72 Customs Declaration Form may therefore need to be fully completed, written legibly in English, and affixed to your parcel”
    Some delivery companies are still in the process of updating their websites and I’m sure it will become clearer in the next few days. You can find more information from the Post Office Brexit information page.
    I hope that helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.