Rossendale Free Press

ALL EU NEED TO KNOW GUIDE

Checks will make your life easier as NIGEL THOMPSON finds out

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THE Brexit referendum vote on June 23, 2016, feels like a lifetime ago but the final act in the drama is played out at midnight on December 31 when our 11-month European Union transition period ends.

While the coronaviru­s pandemic has dominated the nation’s lives for nine months, UK travellers need to be aware of new rules kicking in on January 1.

The Government’s Check, Change, Go campaign has been running since the summer to prepare us for what’s in store when we head to the 27 EU countries plus Switzerlan­d, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenst­ein in 2021 and beyond.

Here’s a guide to what you should be doing as we finally depart the single market and customs union...

PASSPORTS

IT’S vital to check if you need to renew your British passport.

From Friday, you’ll need your passport to have at least six months’ validity left and to be less than 10 years old, even if it has six months or more to go.

If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to the 27 EU nations plus the additional four. However, these rules do not apply to travel to Ireland; you can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the duration of your stay.

VISAS

YOU will not require one if you’re a tourist on a short trip, such as a holiday and you will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Different rules will apply to Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania, so if you visit these countries then visits to other nations will not count towards the 90-day total.

However, you may need a visa or permit to stay for longer for work, educationa­l or business trips.

BORDER CONTROL

Check with your operator to find out about any charges you might get

IT’S likely we’ll see some changes. For example, you may have to show your return ticket or onward tickets and prove you have sufficient funds for your stay.

It’s also possible Brits will need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing at immigratio­n.

Will these changes mean longer queues? Nobody knows for sure, but it is feasible that these changes will mean a slower process.

MOTORING

DRIVERS could need extra documents, such as an internatio­nal driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have a paper driving licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man. If you are travelling through more than one country you might need more than one type of IDP; they are £5.50 each from the Post Office. If you’re taking your own vehicle, you will also need a ‘green card’ and a GB sticker.

HEATHCARE AND INSURANCE

YOU should never go on holiday abroad without a suitable travel insurance policy in place. Buy it as soon as you book a trip and make sure it covers potential medical bills and any pre-existing health conditions. If you have an annual policy, make sure you check the T&Cs and contact your provider if you’re not sure. Brits will still be able to access emergency healthcare with European Health Insurance Cards,

( EHIC) cards remaining valid until they expire. The Government is planning to introduce a new UK Global Health Insurance Card.

PETS

EXPECT substantia­l changes and you should now allow at least four months to arrange a trip with Rover.

From January 1 you will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme and a new system will take longer.

However exactly what is required is still to be finalised as it depends on whether the UK becomes a ‘listed’ or ‘unlisted’ country for travelling pets.

While we wait for a decision on what category the UK becomes, the best current advice is to contact your vet at least four months before travelling to start the process.

Depending on the UK’s status, the animal may require microchipp­ing and vaccinatio­n against rabies and also need blood tests to show agreed rabies antibody levels. Check gov.uk/ taking-your-pet-abroad

MOBILE ROAMING

FROM January 1 the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenst­ein and Norway will end, so check with your operator to find out about any charges you might get.

Vodafone, Three and O2 have said they will continue to operate on their current roaming terms, but after January 1 they will have the right to reintroduc­e costs at any time.

A new UK law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing.

Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad.

Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.

MORE INFO

BREXIT updates are at gov.uk/visiteurop­e-1january-2021 and for individual country advice see gov.uk/ foreign-traveladvi­ce

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Change – rules on pets, passports and borders

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