Claire Thomson navigates through the complicated border crossings we face after Brexit and Covid-19.
Travelling abroad has never been the most straightforward thing in the world, but it definitely wasn’t as much of a nightmare as it is nowadays. For the majority of countries in Europe, Brexit did not make a massive difference to short stays or holidays in the continent – however, Covid-19 has now added that extra dimension of stress and worry to our travels. Governments are not making it easy for us either with different countries having different entry requirements and the longest lists of exceptions ever, in case we weren’t confused enough by everything else going on! So whilst travelling is harder now than in recent years, this is the new normal. If we want to go on adventures and explore the world, this is something we must overcome – it’s not going to change any time soon.
Firstly, Brexit. This is, dare I say, almost the least complicated part of going on holiday at the moment. Many people haven’t realised that even after leaving the European Union, UK tourists do not require a visa for short stays in EU countries, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Lichtenstein. It is possible to travel as a tourist in the EU for 90 days in a 180 day period, without requiring any additional documentation. Therefore, there really shouldn’t be too many issues when going for an all-inclusive week in a holiday resort in Spain, or a city break in Paris. There are only two simple steps to take for hassle-free, post-Brexit travel. The first is to ensure that your passport is still valid for more than three months on the day of departure from the EU, and it is not more than 10 years old, even if it is still valid. Secondly, you must ensure you have valid health insurance. This can be in the form of a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) or a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), both of which are free and straightforward to apply for, but it can take a while to arrive so give yourself plenty of time! Basically, for short stays, the worst part is airport queues – eight lines for EU countries, two lines for the rest of the world.
Now let’s discuss Covid-19.
It’s no surprise that after the 18 months we’ve suffered through, travelling whilst arguably still in a global pandemic is going to be a challenge. That said, in the majority of instances, it is still very much possible so long as you’re taking precautions and following government restrictions and guidelines. So don’t be afraid to chase that dream holiday or adventure! Almost every country is slightly different, however, it appears that fully vaccinated travellers can enter most countries in Europe as tourists and are exempt from mandatory quarantine. The second vaccination must be at least 14 days old and proof of vaccination is absolutely required for entry into the country. Just like travelling to the UK, every country has its own entry passenger locator forms that must be completed before arrival. These are often not complicated to complete, and simply require the address of the place that you’ll be staying, whether you are vaccinated or not, and contact details.
Recently, I travelled to Germany for my year abroad, however, I entered the country as a tourist, and honestly, I had no problems at the German border control. All I had to do was show my passport, prove that I was fully vaccinated, and hand over my completed passenger locator form. All of my documents were accepted without question and I was free to enter the country and stop panicking. The worst part is the uncertainty as it cannot be denied that entry requirements are very, very confusing, but in reality, everyone is in the same boat of stress. As far as Covid-19 tests are concerned, some countries may also require proof of a negative PCR test for entry. Whilst these might not necessarily be cheap, they are usually easily accessible and testing sites can often be found at airports.
Whether it is concerning Brexit or Covid-19, all the information that you need to travel is on the UK Government website or can be found with a quick Google. Yes, it can be wordy, and yes, it can be confusing and complicated, but don’t panic and just take your time to read through it thoroughly. If in doubt, airlines or travel companies will be able to answer more case-specific questions and provide help. Your dream holiday is still out there waiting for you, it will just take a little more planning and preparation to reach it!