Passengers at the London City Airport/Photo: © London City Airport

What Brexit deal means for EU travellers to UK

What you need to know about visiting the UK from 1 January 2021

On Thursday (24 December), UK and EU leaders announced a final separation agreement that will regulate relations between both parties from 1 January 2021.

The agreement was the culmination of 11-month talks on the future relations of the EU with the UK, which left the EU officially on 31 January 2020.

According to preliminary information about the 1246-page agreement, the following changes will apply to EU citizens travelling to the UK from 1 January 2021:

Will I need a Visa to visit the UK?

EU nationals will not need a visa for short stays in the UK from 1 January 2021 for many purposes; for example, to visit family, to attend events or as a tourist.
You will be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. The 90-day visa-free period does not entitle you to work on a paid basis.

There are different regulations for business trips, which can be viewed on the British government’s website, as can the rest of the visa regulations.

Can I work in the UK?

The free movement of workers to the UK is now history with Brexit. In future, EU migrants to Britain will have to show proof of employment and a gross annual income of around 28,000 euros to be granted work permit. For jobs in labour shortage-hit sectors, the threshold may be lowered.

What document do I need to visit the EU?

Until 30 September 2021, entry for EU citizens is possible with an identity card or a passport.

From 1 October 2021, entry is only permitted with a passport; an ordinary German identity card, for example, will then no longer be sufficient.

However, those who have a “settled” or “pre-settled” status, are border crossers or an “S2 healthcare visitor” can still use their identity card for entry until 31 December 2025.

Healthcare in the UK

The European Health Insurance Card, EHIC (Europäische Krankenversicherungskarte) will no longer be valid in the UK from 1 January 2021.

With the EHIC, you can go to the doctor during your holiday in all EU member states as well as in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland in case of emergencies and unplanned treatments and receive the same benefits as citizens of the respective destination country. The costs of medically necessary care are usually covered by your health insurance.

Persons who entered the UK before 31 December 2020 and remain there beyond the withdrawal date are subject to the withdrawal agreement under certain conditions, which must be examined in individual cases. The German health insurance funds are to issue a corresponding Provisional Replacement Certificate (Provisorische Ersatzbescheinigung or PEB) to them until the end of their stay.

Persons entering the UK after 31 December 2021 are not entitled to either an EHIC or a PEB. It is therefore important to take out a travel health insurance.

What will change for travel by rail, road or ferry?

Rail passenger rights — When you travel through Europe by train, the EU protects you and gives you rights. Rail passenger rights apply to cross-border journeys from the EU to the UK, from the UK to Europe and for journeys within the UK. Train passengers can still, under certain conditions, claim 50% of the ticket price back for delays of 120 minutes or more. For delays between 60 and 119 minutes, the refund is 25%.

Bus passenger rights — Bus passenger rights apply to long-distance bus journeys where the planned route is more than 250 kilometres and whose arrival or departure location is within the EU. Under bus passenger rights, consumers whose bus journey has been cancelled can, under certain conditions, demand reimbursement of the ticket price and, if necessary, be taken back to the place of departure.

Passenger rights for ferry passengers — Ferry passengers, for example, will continue to have the right to compensation amounting to 25% of the ticket price if the delay is 2 hours, with a scheduled journey time of between 4 and 8 hours.

Recognition of the national driving licence — Anyone wishing to drive in the UK can still do so with a German, European or international driving licence from 1 January 2021.

Femi Awoniyi

For more information about changes for consumers in Germany as a result of Brexit, visit the website of the European Consumer Centre Germany HERE

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