Business after Brexit – travel to the EU

by | Mar 1, 2021 | Blog, Running a business

If you are travelling to the EU on business, there are several things to be aware of, covering the likes of passports, visas, and travel insurance.

Now the UK has left the EU, travel for UK nationals changes if your destination is any of the following:

  • Most countries in the EU
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Switzerland

In short, the rights and protections for freedom of movement and freedom of establishment will no longer apply to UK citizens. Travel requirements will vary depending on the country you are entering and its local laws.

You need to check the destination country’s requirements before travelling, even if travelling to major EU destinations such as Germany or France. The UK Government provides a website with details for most.


To travel to the countries above after 1 January 2021, you can use an existing burgundy-coloured passport with EU markings, provided that it has more than six months until it expires. If there are less than six months until expiry when you travel, you will need to get a new UK passport before travelling.

This does not apply if you are travelling to Ireland, where your passport with less than six months left will still be valid. This is because of the Common Travel Area rules, which also means Irish citizens can visit move freely in the UK.

It also provides rights for UK and Irish citizens in each other’s countries, such as working, studying, and accessing benefits and health services.

Your passport also needs to be less than ten years old in total, even if the expiry date shows more than six months from the date of travel. To check this, look at the issue date and then calculate the addition of ten years. Does the date of travel and return fall within this time period?


UK travellers have long since relied upon the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to get free essential medical services in the EU countries, as well as in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland.

If the UK and EU are unable to reach a negotiated outcome at the end of the  Brexit transition period, the government will cover routine medical treatment when in the EEA or Switzerland for the first year following the end of the transition period (1 January 2021 to 31 December 2021). This is intended to cover ongoing treatments such as dialysis and chemotherapy. The scheme will be administered by the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) and must be applied for before travel, in association with the NHS clinician who decides your treatment requirements.

However, for anybody else, and as of 1 January 2021, you are strongly advised to purchase travel insurance that includes a medical/health coverage component before travelling.

Notably, for trips to the countries above that straddle 1 January 2021, you can continue to use your existing EU EHIC for the duration of the trip. If your business relies on travel insurance, then you will need to check to make sure it continues to cover you following the end of the Brexit transition period.


Assuming you are travelling by air, train or boat, upon arrival you will need to join the customs lane for non-EU, EEA or Swiss nationals. Typically, this is labelled on signs as ‘All Other Passports’, or ‘Non-EU Passports’. These queues can be slower moving than those for the EU, so you might want to budget extra time.

If you carry goods into the EU to sell, you will have to declare them upon entry.   You may need to present a customs declaration, and pay customs duties and VAT.


You might need a visa if you are travelling to the countries mentioned above for business purposes, or to sell a service while there.

Note that as of late 2022, UK travellers to EU countries are likely to require an EU Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver. This will probably cost around €7 and will be valid for three years (or until the date of passport expiry if that occurs before).


If you intend to drive while on your trip, you may need an International Driving Permit (IDP). You can get these from the Post Office for a small cost.

You should also contact your vehicle insurer and request a green card. This provides proof that you have insurance for the country you are driving in. If the vehicle is insured under a fleet policy, you will need a green card specific to your vehicle. You will need a GB sticker on the rear of your car. Note that any existing number plate country identification is no longer valid.

If the vehicle is leased or hired in the UK, you should take a VE103 certificate. One of these can be obtained for a fee from the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA), Freight Transport Association (FTA), RAC Motoring Services or the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

Notably, if you own the vehicle, the UK government also advises that you take your V5C vehicle logbook document when driving abroad.

If driving in Ireland, none of the above applies except for requiring a green card for insurance purposes.


If you need advice or support on any of the information outlined above, we are here to help. Feel free to contact a member of our team today on 01454 619900 or by emailing

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