2021 and 2022 will be big years for tourism in Europe as new regulations gradually come into effect. There are a lot of new travel rules that tourists will have to be aware of before a trip to either the EU or the UK during this time.

To help visitors prepare to journey between the EU and UK, this article investigates some of these incoming rules. It explains what documents will be necessary for visitors to the EU and Britain and the most significant changes that tourists may come across in the future.

New Visa Waivers and Travel Authorizations

Perhaps the biggest change coming to European and UK travel is the launch of new visa waivers. Both the EU and British Governments are planning to roll out brand new electronic travel authorizations that visitors will have to complete before an international visit.

The EU is planning to launch its new ETIAS visa waiver in 2022. Visitors on short trips from 3rd countries such as the USA, Canada, and Russia will need to complete an online form and receive security clearance and authorization prior to entering an EU Schengen state.

This is expected to apply to British passport holders too once Brexit is complete and ETIAS has been launched. Check here to find out more about the proposed new regulations.

Additionally, the UK has indicated that it will launch a similar scheme for EU tourists and business travelers: the UK eTA. This will also require the completion of an online application before travel. At present, no launch date has been announced for the eTA and it is not known when it might come into use.

Passports Required Instead of ID Cards

Citizens of the European Union can currently travel to the UK with just their ID cards. Yet, after the Brexit transition period comes to an end in 2021, the UK government has indicated that this might no longer be the case.

European travelers to Britain should instead always bring a valid passport. Whilst it is unclear whether national ID cards from EU countries may continue to be accepted, it is sensible to assume that this may not be the case. However, passports with under 6 months’ validity remaining are still expected to be accepted by the UK Border Force, meaning that travelers won’t need to hurriedly renew their documents.

Brits visiting the EU will also be subject to slightly altered passport rules. Travelers with documents that have under 6 months until expiry or that are over 10 years old will not be able to enter EU countries. They will instead have to renew their passports to visit a European destination.

When ETIAS comes into effect, British travelers will also need to provide a valid digital authorization document to enter the EU as well. They will also need to carry the same passport used to apply for the ETIAS visa waiver.

The End of EHIC in the UK

Many joint EU schemes that the UK has participated in up until now will cease to apply after Brexit. This includes the European Health Insurance Card (or EHIC).

After Brexit, EU travelers visiting Britain and British travelers visiting an EU country will no longer be able to access local healthcare for free using the card. Instead, they will have to ensure that they have suitable health insurance coverage before traveling abroad.

No Automatic Rights to Work in Britain

As of the 1st of January 2021, the right for EU citizens to work full time in the UK will change. From this date, it will be necessary for Europeans in the EU and EEA to apply for a suitable work visa from the British Embassy before coming over for a job.

This is to be run on a points-based system. Applicants for a work visa will be accessed and awarded points according to:

  • Their qualifications
  • Their English language ability
  • Any job shortages in their sector
  • Having a job offer from a suitable sponsor
  • Their salary

Workers will need over 70 points to be eligible under the scheme.

European citizens will find that several rules will be different from 2021 onwards when visiting the UK. However, arriving in Britain for tourism or business for periods of under 6 months will still be permitted as normal.

Little changes will take some getting used to at first. However, in a lot of ways, travel between the UK and EU will remain as seamless as it currently is now for European tourists.