Will my Ehic card still work?
Yes and no. Under the agreement if you have a European health insurance card (Ehic), which entitles visitors to necessary state healthcare (such as accident and emergency) for free or at a reduced cost, it remains valid in the EU until it expires.
The good news is that a last-minute replacement is being developed, called the global health insurance card (GHIC).
It will remain free, and while you cannot apply for a GHIC yet, applications will open in the new year.
The bad news is that details about it are at best sketchy. In background briefings, the government is saying that it will operate like the Ehic scheme, with a few important differences.
It will cover you for travel in EU countries, but not if you are going to Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Transitional arrangements have been put in place for Norway allowing UK nationals to use their UK passport to access state provided medical treatment if necessary.
The government is also negotiating new arrangements with Switzerland and the EEA/Efta states that could result in Ehic-style reciprocal healthcare cover there.
A UK national who doesn’t have an Ehic or GHIC is still entitled to necessary healthcare if needed when travelling in the EU. People should contact NHS Business Services Authority, which can issue a provisional replacement certificate that will cover the same costs.
Will I need travel insurance?
It is not a legal requirement that a traveller buys insurance when visiting the EU, but for the vast majority of people it would be daft not to, with scores of annual multitrip policies costing less than £50 a year available for travel to Europe for next year. There have been widespread concerns about the cost of travel insurance post Brexit as the Ehic is withdrawn – particularly for those with pre-existing conditions – but that has been somewhat allayed by the last-minute introduction of the GHIC (see above).
Can I still drive abroad?
Your UK driving licence will be valid in Europe after 1 January. Previously it was understood that UK drivers would have to apply at the Post Office for one of two (or both) international driving permits depending on the destination country.
However, if you are taking your own car or other vehicle abroad, you will need to apply to your insurer for a green card, which is proof that you have cover. There shouldn’t be a charge – except perhaps an administration fee, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which says it will probably arrive via email. You should print it out and be ready to show it if asked by the police or other authorities. Note that Northern Irish drivers who cross to the Republic will also need one. The ABI says the EU could end the green card requirement in the coming months, but until that changes you will need one.
Can I take my dog to Europe?
The old pet passports are no longer valid after 31 December. Instead the EU has agreed that Great Britain should be given “part two listed” status, allowing pets to travel within its borders providing owners obtain an animal health certificate (AHC). This confirms that your pet is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies. You get it from a vet and your trip must begin within 10 days of it being issued. The AHC is valid for four months and you can travel to and from the EU multiple times within that period.
Will I still get compensation for delayed flights?
There had been concerns that the EU flight compensation rights – which enabled passengers to claim up to €250 (£225) to €600 on delayed or cancelled flights – would be lost after Brexit. The regulations are now enshrined in UK law but as they are no longer protected by the EU, the UK government could in future make changes to the levels of compensation.
Will I pay more for cross-border shopping?
Any item bought online from the EU and sent to the UK may incur VAT charges and handling fees, depending on its value, and whether it is a gift or commercial goods, according to Royal Mail.
“For items under £135 (with the exception of gifts), VAT will be collected directly when they buy the goods online. For goods with a value over £135 (and gifts over £39), Royal Mail may collect the VAT and customs duties from the customer prior to delivery,” it says.
Will it be more expensive to use my mobile phone in the EU?
The right to use your UK phone allowance while in Europe has ended, meaning there is nothing to stop the phone companies reintroducing roaming charges. The big four main providers – EE, 02, Vodafone and Three – have said they have no plans to do so. As part of the “deal”, the UK and EU have agreed to cooperate on “fair and transparent” rates for mobile roaming. It remains to be seen what that means.
UK nationals in Europe
Will I still get a UK pension?
Yes. UK pensioners who have retired to an EU country have already been guaranteed that they will be able to receive the UK state pension, and benefit from any annual increases. For people who intend to retire to the EU nation in future, the same applies.
If you are receiving a private pension – such as an annuity – from the UK but are resident abroad, the government says you should contact your provider. But in general it says: “UK law allows for workplace pensions to be paid overseas. The government does not expect this to change because the UK has left the EU.”
Can I have a UK bank account?
Thousands of Britons resident in the EU were told in September that they will have their UK bank accounts closed by the end of the year. UK banks have operated across the EU under passporting arrangements that expire at the end of the year. Account holders who bank with firms that own an EU-based subsidiary will see their accounts transferred to that entity. But where that is not the case, accounts are likely to be closed.
The Netherlands is particularly affected: Lloyds Banking Group, Nationwide and Co-operative banks have withdrawn services. Lloyds Group, which includes Bank of Scotland and Halifax, says those affected are retail (personal) accounts in the Netherlands and Slovakia, and business banking customers in the Netherlands, Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Italy and Portugal.
Nationwide will no longer serve Italy. Barclays is closing accounts for customers in Belgium, Estonia, Italy and Slovakia and Barclaycard accounts across the EEA will be closed unless linked to a UK address.
EU nationals in the UK
Will I need extra paperwork to apply for a rented home or credit?
The controversial “right to rent” rules were introduced in 2016 in England and require a landlord to check the immigration status of a tenant or face hefty penalties.
Currently, EU citizens can do so by showing a passport or national identity card, but from July 2021 they will have to prove they have “settled” or “pre-settled” status.
The government’s guide for landlords says: “New guidance on how to conduct right to rent checks on EEA and Swiss nationals after 30 June 2021 will be provided in advance of this date.” So for now, it’s not absolutely clear what tenants will have to do.
But the3million.org.uk group, which represents EU nationals in the UK, is concerned that proof of settled status is only provided digitally and that they are “guinea pigs” in a Home Office trial. Under the digital scheme, tenants can provide a share-code to prospective landlords so they can check their status.
Will I be able to claim benefits?
EU nationals will need to apply to the EU settlement scheme by 30 June 2021 to remain in the UK and be eligible to claim benefits. Settled status proves the individual’s right to reside, which is a key element in determining benefits. They will also have to prove that the UK is their main home and they plan to stay – known as being “habitually resident”. Citizens Advice has a guide for EU nationals wanting to know more.