How Brexit affects travel and tourism
After three extensions, Brexit is finally a reality and the United Kingdom is not part of the European Union anymore. Since the referendum on June 23rd, 2016, it has been a long way to negotiate how the UK would leave the UE. It should have happened on March 29, 2019, but it did happen only on December 31st, 2020. So, what happens to travelers that wish to go to the UK, especially the ones fond of visiting London’s iconic attractions, now that it is not part of the European Union anymore?
From January 1st, 2021, Britons will be treated as many other citizens when entering the European Union: they are visa-free but can only stay up to 90 days in any 180 days.
But what happens to Europeans entering the UK?
Can I enter the UK after Brexit?
Yes, you can enter the UK for holidays or short trips (90 days in any 180 days), including business trips, without a visa, if you are from the remaining 27 EU countries, plus Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.
A general exception in this new scenario is for travelers from the Republic of Ireland. Ireland is part of a common travel area with the UK that existed before the European Union, so they’ll continue to be able to enter the UK, to work, study or simply travel, without a visa. And the other way around too.
What documents do I need to enter the UK after the Brexit?
To enter the UK, Europeans, including citizens from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, need a valid passport.
The national IDs are only valid to cross the UK border until September 30th, 2021. After this date and until December 31st, 2025, European national IDs are only valid for entry if the traveler:
- has settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme
- has an EU Settlement Scheme family permit
- has a frontier worker permit
- is an S2 Healthcare Visitor
- is a Swiss Service Provider
I am not European. How does Brexit affect me?
It doesn’t really affect much (at least not for now). If you are from Canada, the U.S., Australia, Japan, or Brazil, you’ll keep on having no need for a visa to visit as a tourist for up to 6 months. Check what happens for other nationalities and documents needed at the UK border here.
Can I stay in the UK for more than 6 months after Brexit?
No, you can’t just stay in the UK as the free movement right has ended.
Any European that wishes to stay in the UK for more than 6 months or that wishes to work there, from now on must apply for the points-based immigration system.
Can I use the healthcare system in the UK during a trip?
No, you can’t. If you are traveling to the UK, you should:
- have travel or health insurance that covers the duration of your trip;
- bring your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you are eligible to continue using it in the UK;
- bring your S1 form if you are eligible to continue using it in the UK;
- bring your S2 form if you are eligible for one;
- check if you need to apply for an S2 Healthcare Visa.
You will be charged for your NHS healthcare if you do not have the right insurance.
However, if you need to be tested or treated for COVID-19 while in the UK, you won’t be charged.