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How Brexit has changed traveling for UK residents

From duty free booze to health cover, what travel looks like for UK travelers in a post-Brexit world.

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Post Brexit Travel to the EU for UK travelers
Visas, passports, health care and travel insurance

During the more than 40 years before 1 January 2021, the people of the UK enjoyed a smorgasbord of benefits as citizens of a country within the European Union. Not least was the right to work freely in other European countries, exemptions from holiday visas and the ability to buy vast quantities (relative to other international borders) of booze (and other treats) and bring it home in over-loaded cars from French port towns (without paying any UK duty).

More importantly, UK residents traveling to the EU could also take advantage of reciprocal state health care in other European Union countries, in the event of illness or accident while traveling… a rather marvelous benefit and potentially a huge cost saver if plans went awry.

While you can still bring back vast quantities of booze (albeit with limits and only for a period of time), Brexit has changed the travel landscape, raising the question of how travel insurance can support UK travelers while abroad.


Will I still get reciprocal health care in the EU after Brexit?

Thanks to the fantastic European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), millions of travelers from the UK have enjoyed reciprocal state health care while European Union citizens. While the UK government advice states you can still use your existing EHIC until it expires, the level of cover available to UK residents appears to be changing with the introduction of the slightly more international sounding Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

The GHIC has different rules and cover to the EHIC – it may not offer the same cover you previously enjoyed when holidaying to Europe as the cover available in some countries has already changed. Before traveling, check your card expiry and even if you have traveled to a country in the EU before, it’s a good idea to know the new rules and cover provided under the EHIC And GHIC for your destination.. If the cover isn’t what you need, travel insurance may be able to bridge any gaps in emergency medical assistance while you’re abroad.


Does travel insurance cover medical emergencies for UK travelers in the EU?

World Nomads Travel Insurance for UK travelers includes 24/7 Emergency assistance if you’re injured or ill while abroad, as well as overseas medical assistance, hospitalization and repatriation or evacuation if needed. Benefit limits apply and vary depending on the plan you purchase.  

World Nomads travel insurance also offers cover for more than 150 activities. There are limits and exclusions around these, so take the time to consider what activities you might plan on doing and the level of cover you’ll need. 

And if you’re already abroad and discover you don’t have the health care cover you thought you might, you can purchase travel insurance online and may be immediately covered for unexpected accidents, although be aware a 72 hour time excess does apply before some benefits kick in.


Will UK travelers to EU countries need new passports or visas?

Not having the right visas or travel documents can not only see your dream holiday abroad cancelled or delayed, it may mean any additional costs you incur are not covered by your travel insurance.  A double whammy you definitely want to avoid.

Yes the rules did change from 1 January 2021 although many of them won’t take effect from the end of the transition period on 31 December 2021. Depending on where, what and how long you plan to travel, you may need to apply for a visa and consider getting a new passport if yours is close to expiring.

How your passport looks is changing too – the new UK ones will no longer be the smart burgundy colored passport, used by most countries within the EU, but a return to the navy version of pre-European Union days.

You might need to get your passport stamped (great if you love to collect stamps!) and show a return or onward ticket and that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay.

From early 2022 the new European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) kicks in and its anticipated it will be obligatory by the end of 2022 meaning you may need to apply and pay for a visa waiver to travel to Schengen area countries.

Travel Insurance Tip: It pays to be prepared – not having the right travel documentation might leave you out of pocket and isn’t a reason for cancellation or trip interruption under many travel insurance policies.  Make sure you know what travel documents you need, how much time you’ll need to apply and be approved for them, any other documentation you might need, and have a valid passport with plenty of time before it expires (at least 6 months).


Do I need travel insurance if I travel to the EU from the UK?

That’s up to you – but here at World Nomads we believe it’s always a great idea and here’s some reasons why. The UK government has also included it in their list of things you may need to do before traveling to the EU post 1 January 2021.

When buying travel insurance, make sure it has the level of health care cover you might need, including overseas medical cover and repatriation, travel disruption, lost, stolen or damaged baggage cover, and the activities you plan to do on your trip abroad.  You can get a quote here which outlines what’s covered on World Nomad’s Standard and Explorer Plans.

If you’ve any questions about World Nomads travel insurance, contact us for more.

The UK government has also published advice on what Brexit means for UK travelers – you can read more here.

True Claims Stories

  • Never travel without insurance. This was the first time I ever purchased travel insurance and I am so glad I did. A few days into my trip to Spain I twisted my foot heading down to the metro. Thanks to World Nomads I was able to get medical attention in Spain and since, as luck would have it, I had a fracture that required surgery, they got me a flight home the next day. Filing a claim was surprisingly easy and when the claim was finally processed, I was reimbursed for all of my expenses including things like the extra week in the hotel I didn't get to take advantage of.
    L.D.
    U.S. resident in Spain
  • I recently had a serious injury traveling on my own & the team was amazing. Being confused with a brain injury they took care of everything. Claiming was no problem, they were on the phone constantly to see if all was OK. I can't recommend them enough. Absolutely fantastic & l will always travel with World Nomads Insurance. Thanks guys for getting me home safely.
    A.B.
    Australian in Thailand
  • I was bitten by a monkey at the Batu Caves in Kuala Lumpur. I went to a nearby clinic and they gave me a rabies shot, antibiotics to take for 4 days, pain medicine, and anti-inflammatory medicine.
    T.R.
    Canadian in Malaysia

Travel Insurance Benefits: how we can take care of you*

Trip Cancellation

Been working hard for your trip?

We'll work hard to protect it.

Trip Protection
  • Unexpectedly hospitalised?
  • Travel buddy unfit to travel?
  • Been made redundant?

We’ve got your back.

Emergency Medical Expenses

Feeling fit and healthy? What if you get sick or injured?

Take the pain out of medical or dental costs.

Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Need meds quick?
  • Accidentally injured?
  • Suddenly sick?

We’ve got your back.

Emergency Medical Transportation

Know where the nearest hospital is?

Don’t stress, we’ll get you there quickly.

Evacuation and Repatriation
  • Banged up abroad?
  • Need a hospital urgently?
  • Medivac home?

Help starts here.

Protect your gear

Love photography, filming or sport?

Cover your bags, tech or gear.

Protect your gear
  • Luggage lost?
  • Airline lost your gear?
  • Tech trashed?

Help starts here.

  • Emergency Overseas Medical & Dental Expenses
  • Emergency Medical Evacuation & Repatriation
  • Trip Cancellation or Interruption
  • 24-Hour Assistance Services
  • Baggage
  • And more (depending on your country of residence)
*This is a general summary only. Restrictions, exclusions and limitations will apply. Coverage may not be available for all countries, states or provinces. Benefit limits may vary depending on the plan chosen. Get a quote for full details.

24/7 emergency assistance

Whether you need medical assistance or emergency evacuation, our teams are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year before and during your trip.

Are you in need of emergency assistance right now?

Contact the team
Wherever you are, we’re here 24/7 to help you in any emergency.
Aurelie's portrait photo
Aurelie Menard,
Emergency Assistance, World Nomads

Travel insurance. Simple & flexible.

Travel insurance for independent travelers and intrepid families. Nobody wants to think about all the things that could go wrong on their trip, but these things can and do happen. So be prepared and get your travel insurance today.

World Nomads Travel Insurance was reviewed on Trust Pilot on 1st August 2017 and rated 4 stars