Accessibility links

Listen with Browsealoud
Language selection

Preparing for Brexit: Important changes to note

With the end of the Brexit transition period on December 31, there will be some major changes for anyone going from the UK to continental Europe from January 1 – either to holiday or for work.

Some of the changes have already been confirmed but others are dependent on continuing negotiations over a deal.

It’s important for businesses and residents to act if you’re:


We would urge all residents and businesses to take the time to look into the changes that will take place from January 1.

There is a wealth of advice and support available whether that’s at a local authority or government level for all sectors and organisations.

At a local authority level we have been working closely alongside our partners to prepare for Brexit, we have a number of contingency plans in place to try and mitigate some of the risks we have identified.

Bridgend County Borough Council leader Huw David

From January 1, 2021 there will be new rules in place for residents travelling to the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein either on holiday or on business.

The Welsh Government has made a one-stop website which provides a wide range of information for people.

If you are travelling from January 1, 2021 you may need to check your passport, get travel insurance that covers your healthcare, check you have the right driving documents and, where applicable, organise pet travel. Find out more about travelling to the EU after January 1 2021

There are extra requirements if you’re travelling for business. For example, going to meetings and conferences, providing services and touring art or music.

As part of the new changes, you will need your passport to both have at least six months left and be less than ten years old.  If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. Visit the UK Government website to check if your passport is valid for county you’re visiting.

Border control and visas
At border control, you may need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay
  • use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing

If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.

You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

Driving in Europe
To drive in some countries you might need an international driving permit (IDP) and if you’re taking your own vehicle, you will also need a GB sticker and a ‘green card’ – this is proof that you are insured and you get it from your car insurer. Make sure you ask for it a month before you plan to travel. Find out more about driving in the EU from January 1.

You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad.

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will now only be valid up to 31 December 2020.

It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition.

Roaming charges
From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end. Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021.

A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing. Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.

EU Settlement Scheme
Brexit also means that EU citizens and their families will have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living and working in the UK after 30 June 2021. The deadline for applying is 30 June 2021. You must have started living in the UK by 31 December 2020.

Find out more on preparations for Brexit at the Bridgend County Borough Council website.

Pet travel
From 1 January 2021 you will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. Instead you’ll need to follow a different process, which takes 4 months.

Follow the guidance about pet travel to Europe from 1 January 2021

Other changes from 1 January 2021
If you’re a business:


A to Z Search