Britain is due to leave the European Union on 31st January 2020 with a deal that has been ratified by Parliament. By continually monitoring the updated advice from ABTA and FCO, we do our very best to answer all of our clients’ travel questions.
- So what does this mean for travellers?Should Britain leave the European Union on 31st January 2020 with a deal as anticipated, the UK will enter a transition period until the end of December 2020, meaning that you can continue to travel to Europe as you do now.
- What’s the latest advice on passports?ABTA’s latest advice on passports is ‘Valid passports can still be used. You do not need to have six months left on your passport to travel to the EU. Your passport does however need to be valid for the whole of your trip.’
We do still recommend that you check the entry requirements for the country you are travelling to on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website to make sure you are meeting the minimum requirements. Venture Abroad still recommends that passports have a minimum of 6 months validity to ensure that if entry requirements do change, this does not prevent travel.
- What’s the latest advice on visas?The European Parliament has approved legal changes to ensure that UK citizens will not need a visa to travel to the EU for short stays after Brexit. This would also apply in the event of a no-deal exit.
- What if I’m travelling with students of non-EU nationality?If you are undertaking a school trip departing from the UK to a country within the European Union and have students travelling who are of non-EU nationality, you may not require a visa. We usually recommend that you apply for a ‘List of Travellers’ form or visa waiver via the British Council.
If all students are from the UK or EU, this form isn’t required. Please note that this scheme may be withdrawn without notice, in which case you would need to ensure the correct visa(s) are obtained in advance of travel.
- If my trip is cancelled, will I get my money back and compensation?Fears of flights being cancelled as a result of Brexit can be allayed as it has been confirmed by the European Commission that flights will continue to operate in a business as usual manner during the transitional period ending 31st December 2020.
Coaches will also still be able to travel to, from and within the European Union as usual during the transition period. Ferry services are generally ruled internationally and will continue to operate, as will rail services to and from Europe.
However, the best way to protect your tour is to book a package (a package is anything consisting of 2 or more elements such as transport and accommodation, which is paid for at the same time). It then becomes the travel provider’s responsibility to make sure your tour is provided in its entirety. If certain aspects are no longer available, an alternative must be offered and if the trip can no longer be delivered, a full refund must be given.
Compensation would not be applicable if the cancellation was solely down to Brexit repercussions as it would be deemed to be outside of the travel provider’s control.
- Will travel insurance cover Brexit-related disruption?It is important that whenever and wherever you travel that you have adequate travel insurance which covers your specific needs, including any known medical conditions or activities you plan to plan to undertake. We recommend taking out insurance cover at the point of committing to a trip to ensure you are covered both pre-departure and during the trip itself. It is worth checking the detail of the policy around travel disruption including delays or cancellations as policies do vary.
Venture Abroad provide travel insurance as part of our package (unless you choose to opt out) through our partnership with Endsleigh Insurance Services Ltd, which includes cover for cancellation and curtailment.
- What about EHIC cards?On the subject of EHIC cards, during the transition period ending 31st December 2020, travellers will still have access to state medical care in any EU country so long as you have an up to date European Health Insurance card. ABTA has always advised travellers to make sure they have adequate travel insurance as the EHIC card does have its limitations. It is worth noting that many insurance policies will continue to cover trips regardless (as does ours), however it is worth checking with your insurer.
- Will I be charged for data roaming?The effect on data roaming charges is another big question on many travellers’ minds. At present the cost of making calls, sending messages and using data in the EU is the same as the UK and will continue after 31st January 2020. We advise checking with your mobile phone provider before you travel for the latest rules and prices.
- Should I book my tour now, or wait until after Brexit?Whilst uncertainty over Brexit may be putting off some travellers from making travel plans, there are measures in place to keep you protected and multiple benefits of securing your trip sooner.
Package travel regulations mean that it is the travel provider’s responsibility to ensure your tour is provided in its entirety, a suitable alternative offered, or a full refund given. Therefore, any concerns over supplier volatility or the feasibility of a trip going ahead are likely to be covered by your tour operator.
ABTA bonding and ATOL licensing also offer additional peace of mind that your financial security is in the best of hands.
Uncertainty over foreign exchange rates also shouldn’t put you off as Venture Abroad quotes are valid for 6 weeks from the point of issue, and at the point your tour is confirmed with us, the currency is locked in, meaning there are no nasty surprises later in the process.
At Venture Abroad, we are very proud of the support our team can offer to group leaders. In these uncertain times, we are dedicated to monitoring and dealing with Brexit matters which may impact on trip arrangements, meaning that the pressure is taken off you as the party leader.
Should you have any questions or queries about Brexit affecting your travel plans with Venture Abroad, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Alternatively you may find ABTA’s Brexit: advice for travellers a useful and reassuring resource.