18/01/2019 06:00 GMT | Updated 18/01/2019 09:11 GMT

How Will No-Deal Brexit Affect Travel? Passports, Visas, Currency And More Explained

You may want to renew your passport now.

With Theresa May’s plan rejected by MPs, a no-deal Brexit is looking increasingly likely. But what does that mean for the thousands who’ve already planned or booked a holiday in Europe after 29 March? 

From flights and visas to travel insurance and the best time to buy currency, we asked experts what they predict will happen in a no-deal scenario.

Andrea Comi via Getty Images

What will happen to flights and the Eurostar?

The European Commission has confirmed flights will continue as usual between the UK and Europe, even with no deal. 

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the industry association that represents 13 UK carriers, said: “Combined with the excellent progress Government has made in concluding bilateral agreements with third countries – including the United States and Canada – passengers should have every confidence in booking holidays and trips for travel on 30 March and beyond.”

A spokesperson from Eurostar also told HuffPost UK: “At this point in time, we plan and expect to maintain services on the existing basis and timetable following Brexit.”

Will you need a new passport, permit or visa?

You will be able to travel with your existing passport, but it is recommended that UK citizens have at least six months left on their British passport after 29 March 2019, according to Emma Coulthurst, travel commentator at TravelSupermarket.

“If you are planning to travel to the EU from 30 March 2019 onwards and your passport is nearing its expiry date, you may wish to renew now,” she told HuffPost UK. 

The European Commission confirmed that UK citizens would have to pay €7 for a travel permit as part of the European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme (Etias) if there is no deal. Essentially, is a form of light visa.

Will anything change at airports?

After Brexit, British citizens will be considered from a “third country” when travelling in Europe and it could mean longer checks at passport control when visiting EU countries, Coulthurst explained.

“Discussion has been had of dedicated queues for British citizens at UK airports, but it is not clear whether this will happen or not,” she said. “We’re also still waiting to see if we can use e-Passport gates. If not, it could mean longer queueing.”

When’s the best time to buy currency?

Unfortunately, we simply don’t know the answer to this one. But Coulthurst recommends keeping an eye on exchange rates and buying during times when you notice they improve.  

“Also, consider going to a country where you get a lot of travel money for your sterling and where the currency is non-euro,” she said. “For example, Bulgaria and Turkey where you get a lot of lev and lira for your money.”

Alternatively, choose a holiday to a country with a lower cost of living. “Portugal, for example, tends to be cheaper for eating out than Spain,” Coulthurst said. “Greece tends to be good value too. Eastern Europe offers you a lot of money for your weekend break – think Prague, Budapest, Bucharest, Riga, Sofia and Tallinn.” 

Will you still be able to drive in Europe?

In December, the European Commission confirmed UK driving licences will be recognised in the European Union (and vice-versa) in a no-deal scenario. This means you’ll still be able to hire cars abroad.

You may encounter more hurdles if you’re intending to take your own car on a ferry and drive it in Europe, because of the uncertainty around car insurance. 

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is advising drivers to contact their insurer a month before travel to arrange what is known as a “Green Card” and take it with them if they wish to drive their vehicle in the EU in the event of no-deal. Green Cards would be required under EU regulations as proof of insurance if there was no-deal. 

Although an agreement between the relevant European insurance authorities was made in May 2018 to waive the need for Green Cards in the event of a no-deal Brexit, this has not been confirmed by the European Commission. That is why the ABI is planning on the basis of Green Cards being required.

What will happen to travel insurance?

At the moment, it is unclear whether the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) – which covers treatment that is medically necessary until your planned return home – will be replaced in a no-deal scenario.

This means it’s important to purchase travel insurance before going abroad. The ABI has reassured holidaymakers that purchased travel insurance will continue to work in the normal way.

“Customers should have their travel insurance documents or their insurer’s emergency medical assistance contact number with them as they have the medical expertise, contacts and facilities to help you if you fall ill or are injured abroad,” it said. 

Any other tips?

It may not be the sexiest option, but booking a package holiday could limit your chances of nasty surprises if we leave the EU with no deal. 

“A package gives you ATOL protection – so, financial and legal protection if anything goes wrong. You’re not covered if you book a flight and accommodation separately,” Coulthurst explained. “With (ATOL) Financial protection, you are entitled to a refund or to be brought home if the travel company goes out of business.”