Healthplan Spain


Passengers queuing at the airport What Changes For Brits Travelling To The EU After December 31? Expat Tips

With the Brexit transition period soon to end on December 31, it is important to know how British travellers to the EU will be affected.

On January 1, British nationals will cease to enjoy many of the benefits that they had when they were members of the EU including travel.

With the changes, there will be new rules on travel which will be in line with those commonly referred to as third-country citizens including

Below we take a look at the main changes that may or may not impact those looking to enter the EU from the UK from January 2021.


One of the most important changes to take note of from next year is that there will be new requirements to passports for those travelling from the UK to the EU.

From January, passports must be valid for at least six months from the day the holder travels to the EU.
The passport must not be older than 10 years on the day the holder travels to the EU.

The old-style burgundy passports with ‘European Union’ on the front will remain valid until the day they expire as long as they meet with the two conditions above.

Whenever you renew your passport early, any remaining validity will be added to the new 10 year period.

However, it is important to remember that the extra months do NOT count towards the six months validity.

If you are in any doubt, the UK Government has a free online passport checker you can use.

It is worth noting that if you are officially a permanent resident in Spain with a UK passport the six months validity does not apply. If you have residency in Spain, you are advised to carry your residency certificate or TIE with you to avoid any potential issues.


From January 2021, those permanently resident in the UK will not be able to use their existing EHIC cards to obtain treatment abroad. They will no longer be valid for the majority of people.

If you are a holder of an S1 form, a student studying in Spain or a frontier worker you will need to apply for a new EHIC card which will give you continued health cover within the EU.

Visitors to Spain would be advised to take out private travel insurance to cover any eventuality while in the EU. Anyone who is not covered may be faced with an expensive medical or repatriation bill.

For further information on this including how to apply, please see our page which provides you with all the details.

Airport Queues

Airports within the EU have two gates which are for EU nationals and third-country nationals.

Until the transition period ends on December 31, British nationals may continue to use the EU national gates, however, from January they will need to use the third-country gates. This will in some cases add to waiting times.

The 90/180-day rule

With all the changes to travel taking place in 2021, British holidaymakers will want to know how long they can holiday in Spain after Brexit?

From January the new 90/180-day rule will apply to UK nationals who wish to visit Spain.

Up until now, many Brits have been free to travel to Spain and other parts of the EU and stay for as long as they wanted. However, this will change once the UK has fully left the EU in January.

The new 90/180-day rule will mean that British visitors will only be able to spend a maximum of 90-days in Spain within a 180 day period or six months total within a 12 month period.

You will also be unable to combine two 90-day periods to stay for 180 days. Once you have been in Spain or the EU for 90 days, you will need to fully leave the Schengen area.

Anyone who does not adhere to the new rules may receive a heavy fine and be deported. They may also be banned from re-entering.

Further information on the 90/180 change can be found at our page below.

Border Checks

It is likely that in addition to longer waiting times, British travellers may also experience long queues and more procedures when entering the EU.

UK travellers will need to:-

  • Present a return or onward ticket
  • Show you have enough money for your stay
  • They will also have their passports wet stamped.

Modern scanning equipment will also be able to record when you entered the EU and Schengen area to make sure that the 90/180-day rule is observed.

Pet Passports

British citizens who want to travel to the EU with their pets will encounter different rules from 2021.
Anyone travelling to the EU with a pet is currently classified as being in one of three groups - unlisted, listed part 1 or listed part 2.

The British Government has warned owners that they should begin preparations to start the process at least 4 months in advance to avoid any issues.

The changes and any new requirements will depend on how the UK is classified from January 1, 2021.

The British Government has applied to become ‘listed’ and if this is approved there will be little to no changes. However, it is classified as ‘unlisted’ a number of changes may apply from 2021.

UPDATE (14/12/2020) - PET TRAVEL: UK Granted 'Part 2 Listed' Status By EU -

Driving Permits

You may need additional documentation when driving in the EU from January 2021.

An International Driving Permit (IDP) is not currently required in Spain and other EU countries although this may change once the transition period comes to an end.

UK visitors will need to obtain a Green Card from their insurance company, however, these are usually free. Vehicles will also need a ‘GB’ sticker on the rear of the vehicle.

Mobile Phone Roaming Charges

Surcharge-free mobile phone roaming will be maintained until the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020.

However, from January 1, 2021, British travellers will no longer have the guarantee of free-roaming within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

Customers are therefore advised to check with their provider to ascertain what the charges may be.

A new UK law means that customers are prevented from running up roaming charges of more than £45 per billing period when travelling abroad.

Once you reach £45, you will need to opt-in to continue your usage.

More information here.