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Post Brexit Travel: GHIC cards, roaming charges and Blue Badge recognition

AllClear Team
Last updated 14 January 2022

The UK has officially left the EU, and from January 1st 2021 many new rules came into play and some of them are important for travel. 

So, we’ve put together a guide of the latest travel updates post Brexit, including GHIC, mobile-phone roaming charges, pet passports and recognition of British Blue badges. 

GHIC

UK residents can now apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card which replaces the EHIC. GHIC is free via the official website. Any website charging a fee or that is not the official website may be a scam.

The new agreement ensures the rights of UK residents to access emergency medical care when travelling in the EU.

The GHIC will cover chronic or existing illnesses and routine maternity care as well as emergencies just like the EHIC.

One key difference  since that trade agreement, is that neither the EHIC nor the new GHIC now provides cover in four countries that used to offer reciprocal arrangements for British travellers: Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are in the EEA, but not the EU. Healthcare in Norway and Switzerland, in particular, can be very expensive, so it’s vital to make sure you are properly insured when you travel there.

Why Medical Travel Insurance is essential even with the GHIC

The GHIC doesnt covere all medical treatment abroad and it does not cover repatriation (medical transport back to the UK) if you need it.

Over 20% of ALL holidaymakers have needed at some stage to seek medical treatment when abroad. And of course, the likelihood of this can rise if you have a pre-existing medical condition. So the risks of travelling without comprehensive Travel Insurance are very real…

 For example, surgery in Greece which needs your repatriation back to the UK, could result in a bill of up to £25,000. 

According to ‘Which?’, UK holidaymakers travelling in the EU could face hospital bills of £2,000 for food poisoning or £14,000 for a heart attack, if they travel without insurance.

An estimated one in five UK holidaymakers doesn’t take out Travel Insurance before going abroad, according to ABTA, meaning millions of people are at risk of having to pay these medical fees out of their own pockets.

Buying the right level of cover can also protect you from medical emergencies and cancellations related to COVID-19. 

Mobile roaming charges post Brexit 

Since 2017, and prior to Brexit, UK residents enjoyed the use of data and minutes without roaming charges while holidaying within European Union countries. However, this changed with the agreement of the trade deal.

The UK’s trade deal with the EU does not say that the ban on additional roaming charges will continue. However, both sides actively encourage operators to have “transparent and reasonable rates” for roaming.

To help holidaymakers and travellers, the UK government passed legislation to provide the following safeguards for consumers:

  • A £45-a-month limit on the amount they could be charged for using mobile data abroad before having to opt into further use
  • Requirements for customers to be informed when they have reached 80% and 100% of their data allowance
  • Operators also have to take “reasonable steps” to avoid customers being charged for accidental roaming in Northern Ireland, which could happen if a phone there locked on to a mobile signal coming from the Republic of Ireland

If you are hoping to travel to any country within the EU, it is advised that you check your mobile phone provider’s roaming charges, prior to departure. 

Pet travel to Europe post Brexit 

As a nation of pet lovers, it’s understandable that so many of us want to take our pets with us abroad. While you will still be able to take them to countries within the EU, from 1st January 2021, the steps to do so are changing: 

You won’t need a pet passport anymore but you will need an animal health certificate (AHC) instead. You must also make sure your pet meets the following requirements: 

  • You must have your dog, cat or ferret microchipped.
  • Vaccinate your dog, cat or ferret against rabies – your pet must be at least 12 weeks old before it can be vaccinated.
  • Wait 21 days after the primary vaccination before travel.
  • Visit your vet to get an AHC for your pet, no more than 10 days before travel to the EU.

For more information visit the Gov.uk website

Blue badges post Brexit 

Back in 2020, when the trade deal was initially agreed, it was believed that the Government would negotiate the recognition of UK Blue Badges in popular holiday destinations across Europe. 

Unfortunately, it’s now 2022 – two years on, and no agreement regarding the issue has materialised. Therefore, automatic recognition for Britain’s 2.4 million blue badge holders has ceased in several countries, including France, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Portugal.  

The resistance toward British badges stems from EU local officials and parking wardens struggling to identify the authenticity of non-EU badges.

Although Governmental talks continue, travellers with disabilities still face uncertainty and inconvenience when travelling to Europe. 




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