Back to news home Back arrow

​Continental Adrift: What does Brexit mean for UK & EU travelers?

January 08, 2021

Photo: Pete Linforth

After several years of dominating headlines, the Brexit transition period is over. What does the deal mean for EU and UK business travelers and how do we make heads or tails of the new restrictions?

Ignore the hype,” says CWT Client Executive Andrew Dalton, “yes, there are complexities but don’t get hung up on reading endless articles. As and when lockdowns lift, travel will resume. Companies can use this time to communicate simple instructions to their employees. Meanwhile, travelers can systematically check for requirements such as whether they have enough pages in their passport and if their passport is valid for long enough.”

We asked Andrew Dalton, Aisling Gibbons, and Eric Wynton, all within CWT’s Customer Group, to answer some common questions.

I’m a UK national. When can I travel to Europe?

Because of the new variant of Covid-19, some EU borders are currently closed to UK citizens. However, things can change fast. Check government advice regarding avoiding non-essential travel and use our CWT Travel Essentials tool to check for restrictions and requirements, specific to your travel plans.

Since each EU country has control over its own borders, exceptions might be made for travel for UK citizens when the pandemic abates.

As a UK citizen, what do I need to prepare before I travel to the EU?

  • Passports - Check that your passport is less than 10 years old, has 6 months of validity, and blank pages to stamp. When traveling to Ireland, your passport just needs to be valid for the length of your stay.
  • Visas – Check whether you need a work permit for certain business activities such as transferring to work at a different branch of your company. You can visit the EU visa-free for 90 days within a 180 day period for activities including business meetings. If you’re a frequent traveler, remember to record your length of stay to ensure that you don’t exceed the allowable number of days, or ask your travel management company to help record it for you.
  • Insurance – Review your company travel and health insurance cover. Taking out travel insurance will help your business trip run smoothly.UK nationals can apply for a GHIC card that covers state healthcare. EHIC cards issued before the end of 2020 can still be used until their expiry date for medical care in the EU. If you’re traveling to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, you’ll need travel insurance with healthcare cover.

Read our blog for further information on mobile roaming and driving.

Can EU citizens travel to the UK?

Currently, EU citizens can travel to the UK without a visa. EU citizens need to fill in a passenger locator form, and must self-isolate for 10 days on arrival (or five days, if using the "Test to Release" scheme) unless they are arriving from a country on the travel corridors list.

EU citizens can spend 6 months in the UK without applying for a visa. The UK is expected to include EU citizens in its ETA visa waiver scheme by 2025.

Are there any benefits to business travel post-Brexit?

While there’s more admin, there may be some upsides. Duty-free will return, and depending on the speed of the vaccine rollout and the depreciation of the pound, the UK may become an increasingly attractive destination for EU citizens.

What can companies do to boost confidence in UK travelers planning trips to the EU and vice-versa?

Consider sending targeted messaging to your staff from now and updating your travel policy to convey clear guidance. Read more tips on preparing your people for travel between the UK and EU.

Disclaimer: Guidance reflects the current advice issued by the UK Government. CWT does not offer specific advice about travel restrictions, or policy changes, change in regulations. The information provided here is not exhaustive, may not address your individual requirements, and is for informational purposes only. The information presented should not be construed as legal advice. 


Media Enquiries:

If you're a journalist looking for assistance with a media query, we're here to help.

Contact us at and one of the team will get back to you as soon as possible.