Europe is the number one overseas destination for UK travellers and many people will be looking to travel there in 2021. Travel to Europe will be different from 1 January 2021, so it is important you plan early to make sure you have everything in place in time for your trip.


It is also important that you check how the coronavirus pandemic may affect your travel plans. When planning a trip and before you travel, check the Foreign Office advice for the destination you are visiting. ABTA also has advice on travelling during the pandemic.


Five steps to take when travelling to Europe from 1 January 2021


1.    Check to see if your passport will still be valid


If you have a British passport, you will need to have at least six months left on your passport and your passport must have been issued within the last 10 years.
You can use the Government’s passport checker to see if you need to renew your passport.


2.    Take out travel insurance with adequate healthcare cover


The European Health Insurance Card may not be valid from 1 January 2021. You will need to take out comprehensive travel insurance with sufficient healthcare cover, including cover for existing medical conditions and any activities you plan to do. 


3.    Make sure you have all the documents you need to drive in Europe


Green cards for insurance – if you are driving your own car in Europe, you will need to obtain and carry a physical Green Card for your UK car insurance to be valid in the EU. These cards will be available from your car insurance provider. You may be charged a small fee to cover administration costs. The ABI advises you apply for a Green Card at least a month before you are due to travel. You may also need a Green Card for your trailer or caravan, so check with your insurer.


GB car stickers – you will need a GB sticker for your own car when driving in the EU after the transition period ends.


Driving permits – if your driving licence was issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man you may need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries and Norway from 1 January 2021. These are available from the Post Office.


4.    Get the necessary vaccines and certificate to take your pet abroad


Your pet passport will no longer be valid, instead you will need an Animal Health Certificate and you pet will need to be mircrochipped and vaccinated against rabies. If you wish to take your pet abroad, you should speak to your vet in advance to make sure you have these in place before you are due to travel. Full details can be found at


5.    Check your mobile phone company’s policy on data roaming


Rules around mobile data roaming are changing meaning you may face charges when using your phone abroad, including for making calls, sending messages or using the internet. Check with your mobile phone provider about their data roaming policy.


The UK Government also has advice for people travelling to the EU after 1 January 2021.


Other things to be aware of when travelling to Europe


  • If you are going on holiday you won’t need a visa for short trips to Europe.
  • At border control you may need to show a return ticket and that you have enough money for your stay.
  • When going through passport control you may not be able to use the EU or EEA lanes.
  • You won’t be able to take any meat, milk or any products containing these items into the EU. There are exceptions for powdered baby milk, baby food, or pet food required for medical reasons.