Whether you’re heading off for a last-minute half term break in search of warmer weather, or maybe planning the much-anticipated big summer holiday, there’s always plenty to organise before you jet off.
From sorting your currency and prepaid cards to checking your passports, EHIC cards and travel insurance - ‘pre- holiday admin’ is an essential chore if you want everything to run smoothly.
It all sounds pretty straightforward, but throw the current Brexit uncertainty and confusion into the mix and suddenly there are some additional holiday issues to consider – including when do I need to apply for new documents and how much will it cost me?
But don’t worry, we’ve done the digging around for you and put together a quick guide and checklist to help you ensure that everything is sorted in time for your holiday, so you can put your feet up and enjoy a stress-free break.
Everybody has different views of what’s best when it comes to sorting their holiday money; some people take a wallet full of notes while others rely solely on their plastic.
Generally, we think it is best to take a mix of the two: a small amount of currency to cover taxi fares from the airport and that first holiday beer or glass of wine when you arrive, and the rest on a multi-currency card, so you can spend and withdraw from ATMs on the go.
Many travellers go for convenience when exchanging currency, by using their existing bank debit and credit cards. However, this tactic can prove an expensive way of managing your holiday money, as banks typically add extra charges and fees that eat into your holiday spending kitty.
A travel money card like Caxton's multi-currency card, can be with you in 3-5 working days, but we’d recommend applying a couple of weeks before you go - just to be on the safe side. That will also give you time to load currency on your card when the rate is good, instead of taking whatever rate is available when you travel.
As for your cash, you can pick this up from most supermarkets or online from your multi-currency card provider often with next day delivery.
Brexit impact on holiday money
- If and when the UK leaves the European Union, there could well be a sudden movement in exchange rates, but experts agree that it’s difficult to predict which way rates will swing and by how much.
- Just bear in mind the rate you see today for your holiday Euros or Dollars may be quite different in a couple of months’ time, depending on the eventual Brexit outcome.
- If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, whether on 31st October or at a later date, it could become more expensive to pay with your trusty plastic due to additional cross-border bank charges – although nothing has been confirmed as yet.
It’s easy to lose track of when your passport expires; most of us stick it in the drawer when we come back from holiday and there it sits until it’s time to head on your travels again.
Do you know when your Passport expires? – if not, check it now and make a note to renew it around six months before it expires. This would give you plenty of time to get it all sorted before you travel.
It takes approximately three weeks to get a new passport and costs £75.50 to renew or replace it if you apply online, or £85 if you fill out a paper form.
You must be aged 16 or over (or turning 16 in the next 3 weeks) if you want an adult passport.
If you are in a rush and need a new passport more quickly, there is an urgent applications option known as ‘Online Premium’ that enables you to apply, pay and book an appointment via the internet.
Be aware that the earliest you can get an appointment is 2 days from when you apply.
Not surprisingly this fast track process comes at a price and will set you back £177 (or £187 for a 50 page ‘frequent traveller’ passport).
Travel experts recommend not booking your travel until you have a valid passport – as doing so is at your own risk.
Brexit impact on passports
- New rules will apply for travel to Europe if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
- You will need to have at least 6 months left on an adult or child passport to travel to most countries in Europe
- You can do a quick check here showing countries affected and the timescales
Travel Insurance and EHIC
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) allows holders to get reciprocal healthcare on the same terms as nationals of that country – although this doesn’t necessarily mean free of charge and shouldn’t be considered as a replacement for travel insurance.
You should ideally look to have your travel insurance in place at the time you book your holiday and or flights, depending on the cover you choose, it could protect you if you need to cancel your holiday.
Up to now UK holidaymakers in the EU have been using their EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) to access free medical treatment.
Brexit impact on travel insurance
- In the event of a no-deal Brexit, it is likely that the EHIC will become invalid, however, for UK holidaymakers travelling to the Irish Republic, Portugal and Spain, healthcare agreements are already in place, so tourists travelling to those countries, would still be covered as before.
- No matter what course the Brexit talks take in the coming weeks, the government is recommending that people heading abroad on or shortly after 31 October ensure they have travel insurance.
- Look for a policy that works for your circumstances, not just a standard off the shelf agreement covering delays and accidents, but more importantly including cover for you and family members for any pre-existing medical issues.
Until now, if you wanted to drive your own vehicle whilst on holiday in Europe, there were only a handful of requirements that you would need to comply with. For example, the necessary documents required would be a driving license, vehicle and travel insurance, European Breakdown Cover policy number and documents, and your vehicle tax and MOT. Certain countries would also have their own additional requirements, such as reflective jackets, warning triangles, headlamp beam deflectors and a GB car sticker.
There are several potential changes you should also be mindful of if the UK leaves the European Union.
Brexit impact on driving abroad
- Unless the UK and EU reach a Brexit deal, you will need a Green Card to travel anywhere within the EU plus various other countries**. It is worth noting that you will need this from the date the UK leaves the EU. A Green Card is usually provided by your insurer, free of charge, but can take 2-3 weeks to arrive, so be sure to contact your vehicle insurer in good time.
- Some EEA and EU countries require a separate Green Card as proof of insurance for your trailer, including caravans. If you are travelling with a trailer, contact your insurer to get two Green Cards: one for the towing vehicle, and one for the trailer.
- You’ll need one or more International Driving Permits, although you do not need an IDP for the Republic of Ireland. IDPs can be obtained from the Post Office, and currently cost £5.50 each. You can find out more detail on the exact IDP you require and any special conditions relating to the country you will be driving in on the government website.
- EU GB number plates will no longer be valid. These are plates with a “GB” country identifier (or other UK variations, e.g. Cymru) surrounded by the EU star design. You will need to have a GB (or other UK variation) sticker or a number plate without the EU stars.
** You will need a Green Card if you are driving to any of the following:
Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Taking pets abroad
In recent years, travelling with a pet has become increasingly more popular. Currently, your pet will need an EU pet passport, a microchip, a rabies vaccination and a tapeworm treatment (for dogs). You will also need to travel using an “authorised carrier and an approved route”.
Brexit impact on travelling with pets
- If the UK leaves without a deal, even if you already hold an EU Pet Passport, this will no longer be valid.
- Anyone travelling out after 31 October in the case of a no-deal Brexit may face having to travel without their pet or delaying their trip for at least four months. This is because they would have to ensure pets comply with all the requirements of animals from a an ‘unlisted’ country to travel – a process which takes around four months to complete. The required steps can be found on the government website here.
- You must also take proof of your pet’s vaccination history, their microchipping date and a successful rabies antibody blood test result.
Using your mobile overseas
Current rules mean there are no additional costs to pay for mobile phone calls and using data while visiting countries in the EU – the costs and allowances should mirror those you pay under your contract in the UK. This means you can ‘roam like at home’ while using your mobile phone when travelling within the EU, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein.
Brexit impact on overseas mobile usage
However, this flexible arrangement is expected to be scrapped in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
- If it no longer applies, using a smartphone on holiday from 1st November could potentially cost you more however it’s reported that the major UK network operators have no plans to reintroduce roaming charges, whatever the Brexit outcome.
- If you’re travelling abroad after 31st October just check with your network provider what their tariff is for use in the EU, although you’ll find most operators will text you this information every time you land in a new country so you should have all the cost information you need.
We are all in the same boat; currently sat in a period of uncertainty around the future of our relationship with the European Union and the effect this will have on our everyday lives. Our pre-holiday checklist walks you through the basics of what may change with regard to travelling within the EU, and the steps you need to be aware of before embarking on a trip. Happy travelling!