A lot of things have changed since the UK left the European Union (EU). And one of them is the freedom to travel to many of our favorite European destinations.

Traveling To The EU, Traveling To The EU This Winter?, Days of a Domestic Dad

Traveling To The EU

So, if you are planning on traveling to Europe this winter, there are a few things you should be aware of :

New COVID-19 restrictions are being reimposed in several EU countries

As winter approaches in Europe, a fresh wave of Covid-19 cases is on the rise in several EU countries. The Netherlands has imposed a curfew after 7 pm, while Austria has implemented stricter measures by introducing a full lockdown. The health entry requirements are now being tightened in other European countries such as France, Germany and Norway.

While the rise in Covid cases across Europe can be attributed to low vaccination rates, waning immunity. Relaxed countermeasures, the cold weather doesn’t help either as people are more likely to socialize and stay indoors. As such, there are a lot of uncertainties and risks involved when traveling at present, and especially during the winter months. So, it is important that you research and check foreign travel advice and guidance before you travel.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccinations

Most EU destinations, travel operators, and airlines will ask for proof of COVID-19 vaccinations. This can be accessed using the NHS app if you’ve been fully vaccinated. For older travelers, it is also a good idea to get booster shots if you’ve been offered one before traveling in winter.

You can still visit the EU if you are unvaccinated, whether by choice or due to medical reasons, as long as you provide documentation certifying a negative test result for Covid-19. However, health checks and restrictions can vary among EU countries. So you will likely have to meet additional requirements and go through further testing, especially if you plan to travel to or between high-risk countries.

Passport and visa requirement

You should check the expiry date for your passport as it must be valid for a certain period. The length of time can vary, but in most European countries, your passport should be valid for 3 months after you leave the country. Most travel websites recommend having at least 6 months of validity for reassurance and certainty when travelling. It is also a good idea to carry a photo or photocopy of your passport with you during your travel, so it is easier for renewal if it gets damaged, misplaced or stolen.

British travellers do not require a visa when traveling to most European countries for up to 90 days in total. However, a travel permit or visa is required if you plan to travel to the EU for more than 90 days. You should also be aware of the ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation Scheme), which is expected to launch by the end of 2022. According to this scheme, British residents will have to apply and pay a €7 visa fee when visiting the EU, both for short and long stays. 

Mobile roaming charges

You should also be aware of extra charges that you may incur when texting or using minutes and data in Europe as mobile roaming charges have been reintroduced after Brexit. Currently, UK network providers – Three, EE and Vodafone – have plans to re-start charging their customers for using their mobile devices in the EU. However, there are limits to safeguard consumers from excessive mobile roaming charges in European countries, from a £45-a-month limit to receiving text alerts upon 80% and 100% of their data usage.

Adequate health cover and travel insurance

You should check if you need any other vaccinations and pre-travel health checks before you travel. This may be required especially if you are an older traveller or have long-term health conditions. You should also consider traveling with a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to access emergency medical care and treatment in the EU.

Once your EHIC expires, you can apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), which will provide the same level of health cover within the EU and Switzerland. However, you will have to get a suitable travel policy if you plan to travel to Iceland, Norway or Liechtenstein since a GHIC card is not valid in these countries. While it’s always a good idea to purchase a suitable travel insurance cover when going on trips abroad. It is a must at present with many travel risks and uncertainties due to Covid-19.