A no-deal Brexit: what it could mean for air travel, mobile phones and driving abroad

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If we have a no-deal Brexit, it could affect air travel, driving abroad, pet passports and using your mobile phone. Find out what could happen.

A no-deal Brexit: what it could mean for air travel, mobile phones and driving abroad

If we leave the EU without a Brexit deal, there could be some disruption to flights between the UK and the EU. You’ll also have to get a Green Card if you want to drive your car in the EU and new passports will change. Find out how you could be affected.

Flights between the UK and the EU after a no-deal Brexit

At the moment, the EU is an ‘internal market’. This means that airlines can operate flights around the EU without having to get permission from the individual countries. This agreement covers the EU, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein. These countries make up the EEA – the European Economic Area.

Flights between the UK and the rest of the world

The UK has agreements with 111 countries that aren’t in the EEA, so that UK airlines can operate flights to and from these countries. This wouldn’t change after March 29th. There are 17 other countries that we have flight agreements with because of our membership of the EU, including the US and Canada. These agreements wouldn’t be valid after March 29th.

These countries are:

  • Albania
  • Bosnia Herzegovina
  • Canada
  • Georgia
  • Iceland
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kosovo
  • Liechtenstein
  • Macedonia
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Norway
  • Serbia
  • Switzerland
  • United States.

After March 29th if there’s a no-deal Brexit

If there’s a no-deal Brexit, UK-based airlines would have to get permission from individual EU countries to continue flying there. The government says that if any EU country doesn’t give this permission before March 29th, there could be some disruption to flights. As regards the 17 countries that we currently have an agreement with as a result of our EU membership, the government says that replacement agreements will be in place before we leave the EU. The UK is currently negotiating these agreements and has a number in place already.

Your UK passport in the EU

If we leave the EU without a deal, people from the UK will be treated the same as those from so-called ‘third party’ countries, such as the United States and Canada. That means if you travel in the EU, you must:

  • Have a passport that’s been issued within the last ten years on the date you arrive, and
  • Have at least three months left on your passport from the planned departure date from the EU country. However, the rules say that you can stay in an EU country governed by the Shengen border code for 90 days. So the UK government is advising that you make sure your passport is no older than nine years and six months on the day you travel. For children under 16 with a five-year passport, you should make sure it has at least six months left on it.

SAVVY TIP: Up until now, you’ve been able to carry over any unexpired time from your old passport to your new one, subject to a nine month limit. This meant your new passport could be valid for up to 10 years and nine months. However, since the start of September, this is no longer possible. Even if your old passport has some time left, your new passport will only last for 10 years.

Blue passports will not be issued until late in 2019, but passports issued after March 29th will not have the words ‘European Union’ on them.

Using your mobile in the EU

Roaming charges: Extra charges for using your mobile phone in the EU were scrapped in June 2017. If there’s no deal, after March 29th this year, there’s no guarantee that you’d be able to use your mobile in the EU without having to pay extra charges. The government says that EE, Three and Vodafone have said they don’t plan to bring back roaming charges. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll stick to it in the longer term. And if you’re with another mobile provider, it could bring back roaming charges.

SAVVY TIP: The government says that roaming charges may not be levied on some mobile phone packages, but could be introduced on others.

Data roaming cap:  The EU had previously introduced a data roaming cap of €50 per month when you use your phone abroad. It was designed to protect people from ‘bill shock’ when they had their data roaming setting turned to on, but didn’t realise the cost of downloading music, TV or video from the internet. All mobile phone networks, except for EE, currently impose a data roaming cap. You can opt out of this if you wish.

If we leave the EU the government says it would legislate to ensure that a data roaming cap would be part of UK law. It would set this cap at £45.

Driving in the EU

At the moment, your UK driving licence is valid in the EU if you drive there on holiday or for work. If you move to an EU country, you can exchange your UK driving licence for an EU one without having to resit your driving test.

After March 29th, if we leave the EU without a deal:

  • Your UK driving licence will not be enough on its own to drive in the EU
  • You won’t be able to exchange your UK driving licence for another EU country’s one if you go to live there.

If you want to drive in the EU after March 29th this year or hire a car, you’ll need at least one, and possibly two types of international driving permit. These currently cost £5.50 each. The type of permit you need will depend on the country/ies you’ll be driving in. The two types of driving permit are governed by different conventions:

  • International driving permit governed by the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic: lasts for 12 months and would be needed for Ireland, Malta, Spain and Cyprus.
  • International driving permit governed by the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic: lasts for three years (or until your driving licence expires, if that’s earlier). It would be needed in all the other EU countries, plus Norway and Switzerland.

From 1st February 2019, 2,500 Post Offices in the UK have been issuing both types of driving permit. The driving permit needed for most of the EU (governed by the 1968 convention) will be post dated to start from March 29th.

SAVVY TIP: There are currently 11,500 Post Office branches in the UK.

What the government is doing: It is negotiating so that the UK driving licence is still recognised in other EU countries. If it can’t get an agreement on this, it will try and get agreements with individual EU countries. People from the EU who come to live in the UK would be able to exchange their licence for a UK one, as they can currently. Alternatively, they could drive on their EU licence for up to three years, in the UK.

Car insurance in the EU

At the moment, part of our membership of the EU means that, if you drive in the EU in your car, your insurer has to offer the minimum level of insurance that’s legally required. That means you get third party cover automatically. So, if you cause an accident or damage someone else’s car or property, your insurer will pay out. Some car insurers provide fully comprehensive insurance for a limited time if you take your car to the EU. Most will add it on for an extra fee.

If you drive in the EU (or Switzerland, Serbia or Andorra), you don’t need to show what’s called a Green Card.

SAVVY TIP: A Green Card is a green-coloured document that your car insurer issues to show that you’re insured to drive in a range of countries. You currently need it if you drive your car outside the EU.

The good news is that your car insurer will still have to provide third party insurance cover if you take your car to an EU country if we leave the EU without a Brexit deal in March 2019. What will change is that you will have to carry a Green Card to show that you have the correct insurance. You should ask for a Green Card from your car insurer. Green Cards are free, but insurers can charge an admin fee for issuing them.

SAVVY TIP: If your car insurance is due to expire during your holiday, you should check with your insurer as to whether you need one or two Green Cards. If you’re switching to a different insurer when you renew, you will need a Green Card from each insurer.

If you don’t have a Green Card, you may be fined and will have to buy what’s called ‘frontier insurance’, which can be expensive.

Pet passports if there’s a no-deal Brexit

At the moment, if you want to take your dog, cat or ferret (yes, really) to another EU country, you can use the PETS (pet travel scheme). If you’re taking them abroad for the first time, you have to take your pet to a vet at least 21 days before the pet travels. This is to make sure that it’s microchipped, has had a rabies injection and to get a pet passport. The passport is valid for the pet’s lifetime. When you return, the pet has to have its microchip scanned and if your dog isn’t free of a certain type of tapeworm, it must have a worming tablet given by the vet.

After March 29th

Pets will still be able to travel to the EU, but they’ll need different documentation. Exactly what they need will depend on the UK’s status after March 29th. There are three different types of document that you might need if you want to take your pet to the EU. The UK government is hoping that the UK has Part 1 or Part 2 status after we leave the EU (which means we’ll be a ‘listed’ country).

  • If the UK has Part 1 listed status: Very little would change. Only a small number of countries currently have Part 1 status, so that option seems unlikely.
  • If the UK has Part 2 listed status: The government says that this is the status most countries have. In this case, you would need to ensure that your pet’s rabies vaccinations were up to date. You would also have to take your pet to a vet 21 days before the pet travels (as is the case currently). Instead of getting a pet passport, the vet would need to issue a health certificate for your pet. Whereas a pet passport is valid for the life of the pet, the health certificate is only valid for ten days. You’ll also have to report to a designated ‘travellers’ point of entry’ – but there are lots of them. You can find a list of travellers points of entry on the EU website.

SAVVY TIP: The fact the health certificate is only valid for ten days means you have to enter an EU country within ten days of getting it. It doesn’t mean you can only take  your pet abroad for ten days. The certificate is then valid for four months.  You have to get a new certificate every time your pet travels to the EU.

  • If the UK is an unlisted country: You’d need to contact your vet four months before your pet is due to travel. If you’re planning on going to the EU at the start of April, you’d need to talk to your vet by the beginning of December. Your pet would need a special blood test to show its vaccination against rabies is still effective. Most rabies vaccines last for three years. The blood test must be done at least 30 days after any rabies injection. If your pet has already had this blood test and its rabies vaccinations are up to date, it wouldn’t need to have the test again. If not, it would either have to have the test, or the vaccination, then a test.

Related articles:

What happens to pensions, savings and investments if there’s a no-deal Brexit?

Saving money on pet insurance; how to get the right cover

If you’re driving your car abroad, make sure it’s insured

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