Brexit and travel in 2021: What do I need to think about?

Brexit and travel in 2021: Will my travel plans for the Azores, Madeira or Portugal be affected?

From the 1st of January 2021, travel to the EU from the UK will still be easy but there are some extra things you’ll need to think about in advance of your holiday to the Azores, Madeira or Portugal.

It’s simple – you’ll just need to: Check your passport expiry date; ensure your insurance cover is adequate; check your mobile phone contract; take proof of funds. And if you’re planning on driving then apply for a (cheap) International Driving Permit.

But play safe and plan well ahead, because there’s likely to be a demand for updated passports and driving permits.


Action: Check your passport because you’ll need to apply for a new one if the expiry date is less than six months after your return to the UK from the EU. If this is the case then apply for a new passport as soon as possible because demand for the service is high. Here’s a link to where to apply for a new UK passport.

The colour of your passport isn’t important – so whether your passport is the burgundy one we’ve been used to, or the new blue passport cover, won’t make a difference in terms of travel.

The key is the amount of time left on your passport, and the reference date is the day you arrive back in the UK from Europe (not the day your holiday starts). With reference to this date, you’ll need to have at least 6 months left on your passport in order to travel to Portugal including the Azores and Madeira – and the same is true for most countries in Europe (not including Ireland).

Check your UK passport expiry date carefully because, if you renewed your current passport before the previous one expired, extra months may have been added to its expiry date – and any extra months on your passport over 10 years may not count towards the 6 months needed.

Health and insurance

Action: Ensure that your travel insurance cover is adequate for your needs including pre-existing health conditions.

We’ve got used to sharing health services with our European friends using the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). After 1st January 2021, this arrangement will cease.

This is important to note because the EHIC arrangement covered all conditions including pre-existing medical conditions. Whilst many travel insurance policies may have exemptions for such pre-existing conditions.

The UK government has published advice about buying travel insurance with the right cover here.


Action: None required for travel to the Azores, Madeira or mainland Portugal – unless you spend more than 90 days of a rolling 180 day period within the EU.

For the purposes of a holiday to Madeira, the Azores or mainland Portugal, the visa requirements aren’t changing after the 1st of January 2021. Unless of course you’re travelling a lot – you’ll need to apply for a visa if you are a UK citizen and you spend more than 90 days in any 180 day period within the EU.

Find out more on the Government website here.

Mobile Phones

Action: Just before travel, check with your mobile provider whether you’ll be able to use your phone in Europe without incurring further charges.

There’s currently legislation that protects the consumer from spending more than £45 per monthly billing period on mobile data, unless you actively choose to do so. You also currently receive alerts when you have reached 80% and 100% of your existing mobile data contract. This will not change post January 1st.

UK mobile operators have said they’ve no plans to change their mobile roaming policies for UK phones in Europe in 2021. This means that, whilst this holds true, you will still be able to use your UK phone as-normal whilst you are in the Azores, Madeira or on the Portugal mainland.

However as policies are subject to change, it’s best that you check your contract just before you travel.

You can read what the Government has said about Mobile Phones in Europe in 2021 here.

Airport security screening

Action: Take a means to provide proof you have enough funds for the duration of your holiday.

After the 1st of January 2021, although you will need to join the ‘Non EU’ queues, flights will continue as normal and the security screening experience will be unchanged.

There will be no extra security screening during any transfers for passengers flying from the UK through Lisbon to the Azores or Madeira.

It is possible that you will need to show that you have enough money for the duration of your holiday.

Here’s general information about planning a visit to the EU from the UK, after the 1st of January 2021.

And here’s security screening information on the Government website.

Driving Licence

Action: the ‘belt-and-braces approach’ is to apply for a 1968 IDP (International Driving Permit) through the nearest post office that offers this service. It only costs £5.50 and you can use this Post Office webpage to search for your nearest branch that will do so.

At time of writing, 30 October 2020, it is still unclear whether an International Driving Permit will be needed in addition to your UK drivers’ licence, for driving in Portugal and Europe after the 1st of January 2021

But because it’s cheap and easy to apply for the International Driving Permit that you might need, it’s probably worth doing so just-in-case.

When you apply, you will need to take with you
>> A full valid UK driving licence – photocard or an older paper licence
>> A passport standard photograph – a recent true likeness of the applicant
>> Original valid passport as proof of identification, if presenting an older paper version licence

You can check the Government website here for up-to-date information.

Travel and the Coronavirus

Our COVID promise is simple: If you book your holiday with us, and you’re then unable to travel due to COVID-19 and can’t claim on your insurance, we’ll reschedule your trip for free.

Find out more about our Three Point Promise here.

Archipelago Choice travel specialists

We specialise in personalised holidays to 11 destinations, including Portugal, the Azores and Madeira. Our team of experienced specialists have travelled extensively around all these destinations and are ready to put together your personalised trip.

Just give us a call on 01768 721040, or drop us a line via our website form here.

Comments on Brexit and travel in 2021: What do I need to think about?

    Be the first to comment on this blog post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *