The effects of Brexit on European travel

For the foreseeable future, the face of international air travel between the EU and the UK is going to be very different. COVID-19 aside, we have identified 9 key areas where you may notice a difference.
For the avoidance of doubt, these are not new measures, but measures that apply now that the UK is outside of the EU.


If you have a UK passport, it must have at least 6 months remaining and cannot be older than 10 years (even if it has a later expiry date). You can check if your passport is valid for your stay here.
You will no longer be permitted to use the EU biometric passport fast lanes at passport control in your destination and as a consequence, passport checks may take longer. Until digital systems are fully in place your passport may be stamped on arrival.

Schengen Area

You will not be permitted to stay in any country in the Schengen Area for more than 90 days out of a rolling 180, so if you are planning a stay longer than 3 months, then this will no longer be possible on a tourist visa. This may not affect too many people, but if you like a 90 day stay in Greece during June, July and August, then you must return home and cannot re-enter the Schengen Area for 90 days (approx 1st December – even the Canaries).
The penalties for overstaying a Schengen visa can be severe and include fines and travel bans to the zone.
There are many websites that have Schengen calculators to make sure that you don’t overstay.

Duty free allowances

The amount of tobacco, cigarettes, beers, wines and spirits has changed – know your limits
Here is the latest information for travellers entering the UK:


  • 42 litres of beer
  • 18 litres of still wine
  • 4 litres of spirits OR 9 litres of sparkling wine, fortified wine or any alcoholic beverage less than 22% ABV


  • 200 cigarettes OR
  • 100 cigarillos OR
  • 50 cigars OR
  • 250g tobacco OR
  • 200 sticks of tobacco for heating
  • or any proportional combination of the above

Any other goods

  • £390 or £270 if travelling by private plane or boat

The beer allowance of 42 litres will equate to three crates of 568ml (pint) cans. If passengers prefer to buy 330ml bottles of beer this would equate to five crates.
Duty free, personal allowance and the VAT Retail Export Scheme changes will apply in England, Wales and Scotland.
There will no longer be the facility for tax free shopping at airports.


The law on taking any food on holiday will now apply when travelling from the UK into the EU. EU published guidance is quite clear on this and on it’s website states “you are not allowed to bring any meat or dairy products” into the EU.
This means that you cannot cross an EU border with items such as cheese, ham and butter, all common ingredients of your in-flight snack. You may find that any uneaten sandwiches or snacks will be confiscated upon arrival.


According to if you currently have an European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will be valid until its expiry date. For any new applications and for expired cards a new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) will be issued. This information is applicable to UK citizens living in the UK.
EU citizens living in the UK and certain other exempt groups of people will still qualify for a UK issued EHIC.
A GHIC or EHIC is no substitute for proper travel insurance that includes good medical cover.
Always check for what is the most appropraiate cover for you and your trip before you travel.

Driving abroad

If you are planning on coming on holiday and hiring a car in Greece, you will most probably not notice any difference; this is because the UK and Greece are both signed up to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic and this allows for the mutual recognition of internationally issued driving licences.
If you are planning on driving over to Greece in a UK vehicle, then different rules apply.
You should always check ahead with local government officials or your hire car company to ensure that you have the correct documentation before you travel.

Mobile roaming

Whilst still under the EU laws during the transition period, UK mobile operators were prohibited from charging extra for anyone taking their phone temporarily into the EU (eg. short business trip or holiday).
Now that the UK has fully left the jurisdiction of the EU, these laws no longer apply and mobile operators are free to charge whatever they like for roaming in the EU, much as they do in the rest of the world. Although the 4 major UK operators have said that they have ‘no plans’ to charge for EU roaming, it is entirely possible that they could start to do so at any time.
Below we have listed the 4 main UK mobile operators and linked through to their Brexit and roaming pages:

Although their position now is that there will be no changes we would strongly urge you to re-check with your operator immediately before you travel.

Air passenger rights

While part of the EU, UK air passengers into and out of the bloc were automatically protected by a piece of legislation known as EU261/2004. This piece of legislation made airlines financially liable for substantial delays to flights for things that were preventable by themselves (eg. technical issues).
According to the EU, compensation under EU261/2004 only applies if your flight:

  • is within the EU and is operated either by an EU or a non-EU airline
  • arrives in the EU from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline
  • departs from the EU to a non-EU country operated by an EU or a non-EU airline


  • You have not already received benefits (compensation, re-routing, assistance from the airline) for flight related problems for this journey under the relevant law of a non-EU country.

Under this criteria, flights from the UK into the EU operated by a UK based airline would not be covered. However the UK government has ensured that consumer rights are protected in this area with an equivalent piece of legislation called ‘The Air Passengers Rights and Air Travel Organisers Licensing (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019’. This is also known as APR Regulations.

Data portability

An often overlooked change is that of data portability.
EU law allows for the cross-border portability on short term visits of online content services such as sporting events, movies and TV, e-books and games – in short, you can go on holiday and take your Netflix or ITV Hub from your own country with you.
Now that Britain is outside of the EU, UK content providers are no longer obliged to enable access to your home country catalogue and you may see only programs that are available locally eg. you may get the Greek Netflix catalogue or not be able to watch Corrie or Emmerdale on your ITV Hub.
Check with your provider before you travel to avoid disappointment.

Further into the future…

Beyond 2021, anyone entering the Schengen free travel area will need to apply for an ETIAS.
This change would have happened regardless of Brexit as the UK was never part of the Schengen area.
The cost to apply for this is will be €7.
We will be sure to keep you informed about this development.

Information sourced from &
All information is correct at time of publication. You should make sufficient checks for your personal circumstances before you travel.

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2 thoughts on “The effects of Brexit on European travel”

  1. Are the cigarette sticks for eating or heating?
    Another thing you are not allowed to take into the EU is dairy or meat products. This could well include sandwiches.


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