As of 11pm last night, 31 January, Great Britain is officially no longer a member of the European Union and Brexit has been delivered.
While there were those celebrating the delivery of Brexit and others commiserating, there are still questions left to be answered, with one of the biggest ones being what happens to existing UK passports now that we’ve left the EU and when will the new British passports be necessary?
Will I need a new passport after Brexit?
If your passport is still in date, you won’t need to order a new one to travel until after December 2020.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) state on their website that ‘everything will remain the same and you can continue to travel as you do now until at least the end of December 2020.’
The Evening Started also reported that Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, said: ‘The UK is primed to enter a new Brexit phase from 31 January, when trade talks begin, and when it does nothing will change when it comes to travel.
‘This means that valid passports can still be used, EHIC cards will still be valid and the same gates can be used at border check points. People can continue to make their travel plans with confidence that things won’t change until at least the end of 2020.’
He added that ‘holidaymakers and business travellers won’t need to have six months left on their passports to travel to the EU.’
So things will largely go undisturbed until the end of the Brexit transition period at the end of December 2020.
One change that’ll be phased in throughout 2020 will be the introduction of the blue passports – which is actually a throwback to one of the earliest versions of the British passport.
Blue passports will eventually replace the burgundy one we use currently, returning to the colour passports used to be from 1921 to 1988, when the UK followed the practices of the European Economic Community.
When will the UK blue passport be issued?
According to the Home Office, the new blue British passport started being issued from the beginning of 2020, and will be introduced steadily throughout the year.
If you renew your passport during early 2020, you may be given either a blue or a burgundy British passport but all styles of passport will be equally valid.
All passports issued from mid-2020 will be blue.
Will we need a visa for Europe after Brexit?
After December 2020, Brits can still travel to European counties without a visa.
According to GOV.UK, if you’re a tourist, you won’t need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
There will be some changes to travel though as, from January 2021, British passports will need at least 6 months left on them to travel throughout Europe, and your passport will need to be less than 10 years old.
You’ll also face different rules at border control in any European country.
You’ll need to:
- show a return or onward ticket
- show you have enough money for your stay – this could depend on where you’re going and how long you’re going for
- use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing
If you’re hiring a car in Europe from 1 January 2021 you might need an additional international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries and if you’re driving your own car you might also need an insurance ‘green card’ and a GB sticker.