Plan ahead if you intend travelling to the EU in 2021

It’s not just the coronavirus that is likely to have a longer term impact on how we travel internationally. Having now left the EU, there are also more permanent changes in place compared to what we were used to.

Robin Tudor, Liverpool John Lennon Airport’s Head of PR & Communications outlines why anyone now looking to travel will need to plan ahead…

Prior to the global pandemic, here at Liverpool John Lennon Airport we had flights to a host of European cities and whilst we have remained open throughout the crisis with just a handful of services continuing to operate, we expect to see passengers travelling on leisure and business to Europe once again as soon as travel restrictions are lifted in the coming weeks and months. However, in this post-Brexit environment the UK Government has increased border controls and boosted the customs sector, so that anyone travelling to the EU will now need to plan ahead and make sure they are prepared for any changes which may affect them.

Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein changed from 1 January 2021 and travellers should be aware that they may need to take the following action before they travel:

  1. Check if you need to renew your passport. On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to be valid for at least 6 months and be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left). If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland. You can continue to use your passport as long as it’s valid for the length of your stay.

  1. Check that you are covered for healthcare abroad. You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad. If you have a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) it will be valid until the expiry date on the card. Once it expires, you’ll need to apply for a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) to replace it, which lets you get state healthcare in Europe at a reduced cost or sometimes for free.

  • You can use a GHIC or an EHIC if you’re travelling to an EU country, but you cannot use either in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. Here you’ll need travel insurance with healthcare cover.
  • You can use a UK passport to get medically necessary healthcare in Norway (for example emergency treatment, or to treat a pre-existing condition).
  • It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.


  1. Check you have the right driving documents. If you are thinking of hiring a car abroad, you do not need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein if you have a photocard driving licence issued in the UK. You might however need an IDP to drive in some EU countries and Norway if you have either a paper driving licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man. You can check with the embassy of the country you will be driving in.


In addition to these examples, there are more things to do if you’re travelling for business. For example, going to meetings and conferences or providing services so it will be wise to look into this in more detail too.

These are just some of the changes to be aware of, but for more information on the above examples and more see