What impact could Brexit have on British holidaymakers?
PUBLISHED: 15:01 29 June 2016 | UPDATED: 12:16 29 March 2017
Visas, EHICs, passports, exchange rates and the price of flights... We take a look at how Brexit could affect Brits visiting the EU
The first thing to make clear is that until Article 50 has been triggered and the formal process of negotiating Britain’s exit from the EU is completed, Britain remains an EU country and British citizens can continue to travel freely around the EU without visas and using their EHIC. The answers to all of these questions depend upon the outcome of negotiations between Britain and the EU.
Will I need a visa to visit France?
If Britain remains part of the EEA (European Economic Area) then it will probably have to accept the principle of free movement of people, in which case you will continue to be able to travel freely within the EU. Even if Britain doesn’t stay in the EEA then it is possible that Brits will continue to enjoy visa-free travel – there are many countries outside the EEA that British citizens can visit for up to 90 days without a visa and it is possible this could be negotiated with the EU. British visitors are a significant part of the tourism industry in the EU and it seems unlikely EU countries would want to risk that by imposing visa restrictions but it would depend what the outcome of negotiations is.
It is possible that UK citizens will need a visa in order to visit an EU country which will mean holidaymakers will have to apply in advance of their trip and answer questions about the length of stay and health cover and of course pay a fee. For those used to just jumping on a plane or in the car to spend a weekend or several months in France this could take some adjusting. However, in many cases visas to visit countries like America can be applied for online in just a few minutes.
Will the price of flights increase?
As part of the EU, Britain is part of the single aviation area which gives airlines the freedom to fly across Europe. The introduced more competition for flights and, since it was introduced (according to EasyJet) fares have fallen by 40% and routes have increased by 180%. It is possible that the UK could retain this access by joining the European Common Aviation Area, as Norway and Iceland have, in which case not much will change. However, if not then Britain will have to negotiate new air service agreements with EU countries and the continuation of low fares and lots of routes depends on the outcome of this.
Will the EHIC still work?
Citizens of all EU countries are able to get an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) which entitles them to free or reduced-cost emergency medical treatment across the EU. This country can then claim back the cost from the patient’s home country. Again, if Britain remains part of the EEA then British citizens will be entitled to use the EHIC as before. However, if Britain doesn’t then the country will have to negotiate agreements will other EU countries which will depend on allowing EU citizens to access the NHS when they are visiting the UK. There were agreements like this in place before Britain joined the EU and there still are with countries such as Australia and New Zealand so it seems likely they can be made.
Will I need a new passport?
On the front of the UK passport is the line ‘European Union’ so there has been some concern that these passports will no longer be valid. Britain remains part of the EU while negotiations under Article 50 go on so passports will likely be valid for the next two years. Even after that it seems likely that a new design without the words ‘European Union’ will be phased in as passports are renewed so you won’t have to get a new passport as soon as Britain ceases to be a member of the EU.
Will data roaming charges increase?
Under EU rules data roaming charges were gradually being reduced in the EU and are due to be abolished completely in June 2017. Leaving the EU would exempt the UK from these regulations so data roaming charges will likely remain and possibly increase.
Will I now have less spending money?
With the recent drop in the value of the pound following Britain’s decision to leave the EU, holidaymakers will find they have less money to spend on holiday. However, this drop wasn’t as severe as predicted and once the initial shock has subsided it seems likely markets will stabilise and the value of the pound will begin to rise again. Try shopping around for your euros – often online and specialist currency brokers offer better rates and less commission than you will find on the high street.