31st December 2020 marks the end of the Brexit transition period. As we get closer to this date the theme tune to the game show ‘Deal or No Deal’ is in the back of our minds – it’s natural to be concerned by the dizzying news emerging from negotiations in Brussels.
On the plus side, 2020 has pushed us to new depths of resilience and ease at navigating uncertainty. With that in mind, no matter the outcome of negotiations, organisations can prepare their travellers for the changes that will come into effect, impacting travel in 2021 and beyond. Here’s how.
1. A single checkpoint
Supply an easy-to-use tool like CWT Travel Essentials. Restrictions can change fast. Enable travellers to make informed decisions and understand entry requirements, any mandatory health documents and individual quarantine policies based on their nationality, dates of travel, and other criteria, in a simple format.
2. Border control
Consider using an automated targeted messaging tool to inform travellers of upcoming airport security changes and documentation requirements.
UK passport holders may no longer be able to use passport and security queues designated for EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens. They may need to show return/onward tickets. In addition, travellers may be asked for their purpose of travel and demonstrate they have adequate funds for their stay.
EU, EEA, or Swiss passport holders should continue to be able to travel to the UK for short trips and cross the UK border using a valid passport. For further guidance, visit the UK government website.
3. Passports and visas
Encourage travellers to verify the validity of their passport for the country they are visiting and renew or replace a passport if necessary. On the day of travel, UK passports will need to have at least six months left and be less than 10 years old (even if it has six months or more left).
Company-wide communication may be helpful to inform travellers of the need to check their passport. Additionally, consider running a report to find out how many of your travellers have updated their documentation. Passport and visa companies such as CIBT can provide further help and advice and assist with specific requirements.
UK nationals will not require a short-stay visa (Schengen-visa) for most stays of up to 90 days out of any 180-day period in the Schengen area. Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania. If these countries are visited, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total. Travellers may need a visa or permit to stay longer, or for certain business travel activities. UK citizens can check for further guidance.
In the longer term, UK nationals will likely be included in the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS), similar to the US ESTA. ETIAS will require an electronic travel authority to be issued by the EU prior to a person’s arrival into the Schengen Zone. Each ETIAS granted will be valid for three years, and will cost €7, with applications completed online. ETIAS will likely be launched in 2022. For further information, visit ETIAS Guidance for UK Citizens.
EU, EEA, and Swiss citizens should continue to be able to travel to the UK for short trips without a visa. Travellers will be able to cross the UK border using a valid passport. For longer stays, a residence permit or visa may be required.
4. Driving licenses & motor Insurance
Review your current travel policy guidance for driving abroad and any additional documentation that may be required to support travelers.
Following the transition period, drivers may require an International Driving Permit (IDP) depending on their destination and length of stay, along with their valid UK license. UK- registered vehicles within the EU will need to carry a ‘Green Card’ from the motor insurer, their V5C logbook, insurance certificate, and display a GB sticker. If renting a hire car, travellers are advised to check with the car hire company.
Check the government website for further information about driving in the EU. IDP’s will cost £5.50 and can be obtained through the Post Office. There are different types of permits depending on which countries are being visited.
EU citizens with a non-UK driving license should still be able to drive in the UK using their regular driver’s license. Vehicles insured in an EU or EEA country will require a motor insurance physical Green Card to be carried.
5. Health cards and insurance
Consider updating your travel policy to convey clear guidance for what your ‘business travel insurance policy’ covers while travellers are on company business, and whether any individual supplementary cover is required.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), which enables UK nationals to state-provided medical treatment in any EU country, will no longer be valid for UK nationals in 2021.
Both UK and EU citizens are being recommended to take out private health insurance. The advice is particularly important for those with underlying health issues or pre-existing medical conditions, as these aren’t covered by most travel insurance policies.
6. Mobile roaming
Examine current telecom contracts for usage policies and advise travellers to check any personal contracts to avoid unexpected fees while on business trips.
From 1st January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway will end for UK mobile operators. Travellers should verify any applicable roaming charges with their UK mobile operator.
The UK Government has announced a new law that protects customers from accruing mobile data charges above £45 without their knowledge. Once £45 has been reached, travellers may need to opt-in to allow the continuation of mobile data services while abroad. Phone operators should be consulted for further information.
By running reports, communicating with your travellers, and providing a simple tool to check that they’re prepared, you can ensure that your UK and EU nationals can travel confidently in 2021, deal or no deal.