[European Commission] Travelling between the UK and the EU in the event of a “No Deal” Brexit


If you intend to travel between the UK and the EU1 in the event of ‘no deal’, the following will apply:

1. Border checks, visa and customs checks, VAT refund

1.1 Border checks and visas

– For UK nationals travelling to the EU2

Will UK nationals be subject to additional checks?

As a UK national, you will no longer be entitled to use the separate EU/EEA/CH lanes at EU border crossing points, and you will be subject to additional checks that you did not have to go through before the UK’s withdrawal. In particular, border guards may ask you to provide information, for instance on the duration and purpose of your stay, as well as on your means of subsistence during your stay.

You will need to bring a passport, which was issued within ten years preceding the date of travel, and which remains valid for at least three months after you plan to leave the EU.

The Commission has proposed that UK nationals can travel visa-free to the EU for short stays (i.e. stays of up to 90 days in a 180-day period), if the UK also grants the same arrangement for citizens from all EU Member States. Your passport will be stamped both when you enter the EU and when you leave it, so that this period of 90 days,
which is visa-free, can be calculated.

– For EU citizens travelling to the UK

Will EU citizens need a visa to enter the UK?

The UK has announced that EU citizens can travel to the UK visa-free for short visits of up to three months.

As an EU citizen, you would be allowed to travel to the UK using your passport or, for the time being, your national identity card. The use of identity cards will not be possible after 31 December 2020.

The UK consular authorities of the country where you live are best placed to provide more information.

1.2 Customs checks

What about my luggage and goods?

If you are travelling from the UK to the EU, you should be aware that:

  • Your luggage and other goods will be subject to customs checks. The UK may apply similar requirements to EU citizens entering the UK;
  • You will not be able to bring certain goods into the EU or only in limited amounts. This applies for example to products of animal origin (such as meat, milk, ham or cheese), cash exceeding EUR 10,000, certain cultural goods, plants, plant products, or certain animals. There may be similar restrictions to EU citizens going to the UK;
  • If you carry goods in your luggage or hand-baggage, you will be entitled to duty free allowances (this means that goods are exempted from import duty and Value-Added Tax (VAT) and, where applicable, excise duty). You can find information on the goods concerned and the corresponding allowances on the European Commission website

1.3 VAT refunds

When travelling from the UK, can I get VAT refunds for goods I have purchased in the 27 EU Member States?

Yes. As a visitor from outside the EU, you are entitled to a refund of VAT paid on goods you purchased during your stay in the EU, provided that the goods are presented to customs with the VAT refund documents when you leave the EU.

2. Passenger rights

Will EU passenger rights continue to apply to EU citizens travelling to and from the UK and EU?

Air passengers

If you are flying with an EU airline, you will continue to be protected by EU passenger rights both on flights from a UK airport to an airport in the EU, and vice versa.

If you are flying with a non-EU airline, you will only be covered on flights from the EU to the UK, but not on flights from the UK to an EU airport.

What about passengers with reduced mobility?

You will no longer benefit from EU law, which grants specific rights for persons with disabilities or with reduced mobility travelling by air when you leave from, transit through, or arrive at an airport in the UK. However, EU airlines which leave from a UK airport to fly to an EU airport will still have to respect certain rights (assistance, prevention of refusal of carriage and obligation to provide information).

Ship passengers

You will continue to benefit from EU law on your rights on ferries for any journey that starts or finishes in an EU port.

Bus passengers

You will continue to benefit from EU rights for bus and coach travel for routes to or from the UK, where you have got on or off in the EU, and where the scheduled distance of the trip is 250 km or more.

Rail passengers

You will continue to benefit from EU law on the rights of rail passengers for rail services within the EU, provided the railway company is licensed under EU rules.

3. Validity of tickets

I have booked a flight from/to the UK. Will this ticket remain valid after the withdrawal date?

Yes. You should however check the airline’s Terms and Conditions before booking a flight. These explain the validity of the tickets the airlines issues, as well as conditions for reimbursement in case it is cancelled. You will benefit from EU passenger rights on reimbursement if:

  • The flight leaves from an EU airport to a non-EU country;
  • The flight arrives in an EU country from outside the EU and is operated by an EU airline.

4. Healthcare when travelling

As an EU citizen, will I be able to use the European Health Insurance Card in the UK?

No, EU citizens will no longer be able to access healthcare in the UK with their European Health Insurance Card.

Check with your health insurance provider if emergency medical expenses in a non-EU country are reimbursed. If not, consider taking out private travel insurance.

As a UK national, will I be able to use the European Health Insurance Card when travelling in the EU?

No, as a UK national you will not be able to access healthcare in an EU Member State on the basis of the European Health Insurance Card.

If you are insured in the UK and you intend to travel in an EU Member State, check with your health insurance provider if emergency medical expenses in EU Member States are reimbursed. If not, consider taking out private travel insurance.

5. Driving licences

I hold a UK driving licence. Will it be valid in all EU Member States?

In the EU, the recognition of driving licences issued by third countries is regulated at national level. Therefore, you should check the national rules in each of the EU Member States in which you intend to drive. Some EU Member States require that you hold an international driving permit to drive in their country.

You should check with the authorities of the EU Member State(s) in which you intend to drive regarding the rules for recognising UK driving licences.

I hold a driving licence from an EU Member State. Will it be valid in the UK?

That depends on UK law. The UK has announced that you can continue to drive on a valid EU driving licence when you visit the UK.

6. Pets

Will there be conditions when travelling with pets?

If you are travelling with your pet from the EU to the UK, you should check which requirements the UK intends to apply to people travelling from the EU. You may need either a third country pet passport, or an animal health certificate.

If you are travelling with pets from the UK to the EU, you will have to respect EU rules on the movement of pets. These rules provide that the pets:

  • Must have an identification chip implanted;
  • Must have received an anti-rabies vaccination;
  • Must have undergone a rabies antibody titration test;
  • Must comply with any preventive health measure for diseases and infections other than rabies;
  • Must be accompanied by a duly completed and issued identification document.

Furthermore, pets must pass through a point of entry designated by Member States.

7. Roaming

Will EU roaming rules continue to apply in the UK?

No. Companies providing mobile communication services, such as voice calls, text messages or data, will no longer be bound by EU roaming rules when operating in the UK.
This means that these companies may apply surcharges to UK customers using roaming services in the EU, and to EU citizens using roaming services in the UK.

Where can I find more information?

For more information, check:


  1. In the context of this factsheet “EU” means the 27 EU Member States after the UK leaves the EU
  2. This does not apply to travel between the UK and Ireland where different arrangements exist under the Common Travel Area
  3. https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/individuals/travelling/entering-eu_en
  4. A list of EU airlines can be found here,
  5. https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/file_import/travelling_en.pdf



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