Visiting the UK as a foreigner post-Brexit: Everything you need to know

Feb 7, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The biggest non-COVID-19-related news of the year in Europe is that the U.K. officially left the European Union as of 11 p.m. on 31 January 2020.

Inevitably, this has meant some changes when travelling from the U.K. to Europe when it comes to things like driving, medical care and what passport you’ll need.

But what about non-nationals wishing to visit the U.K. from abroad? Let’s take a look at how those changes might affect you.

Follow The Points Guy on Facebook and Twitter, and to ensure you never miss anything, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

(Photos by Santiago Urquijo/Getty Images)

I am an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen

The changes for EU, EEA or Swiss citizens wishing to travel to the U.K. are subtle but definitely worth knowing before planning your next trip.

Will I need a visa?

If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you will not need to apply for a visa to travel to the U.K. This applies to holidays and short trips.

The U.K. government has put in place a new points-based immigration system that must be consulted when longer stays are required for work or study purposes. In such cases, you may have to apply for a visa.

Will I need my passport or can I still travel with my ID card?

From 1 October 2021, citizens who normally travel using their EU, EEA or Swiss national ID cards will no longer be able to do so for entry into the U.K. A valid passport will be the only form of identification accepted when entering the U.K. The passport must be valid for the entire duration of your stay.

However, there are some exceptions to this rule for those who have the following:

These exceptions will remain in place until at least 31 December 2025.

How long can I stay?

In most cases, visitors from the EU, EEA or Switzerland will be able to stay in the U.K. without having to apply for a visa for up to six months. During that time you will be able to carry out business meetings, events and attend conferences, should that be required.

Will I be able to drive in the U.K.?

Yes. You will still be able to drive using your non-U.K. driving license. An international driving permit (IDP) will not be required.

Can I drive my own, foreign-registered car in the U.K.?

If your car is registered in a country that is registered in the green card system, you will need to make sure you carry your green card with you.

If your country is not a member of the green card system, you will need U.K. vehicle insurance to drive in the U.K.

driving through europe
(Photo by @phiasinclair via Twenty20)

I am a non-EU or American citizen

Brexit has not changed the way that non-EU citizens are able to travel to the U.K. Whatever restrictions were in place pre-Brexit are the same as of 1 January 2021.

Can I still travel freely between the U.K. nations?

Travelling between the U.K. nations — England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — will remain exactly the same as it was pre-Brexit. There will be no physical land border checks at crossings.

Will I still be able to travel across the Northern Irish – Ireland land border?

Yes. There will be no immigration controls at the border.

Will passport and visa restrictions apply when travelling to the Channel Islands?

Guernsey, Jersey and the smaller Channel Islands are part of the U.K.’s Common Travel Area (CTA), which means the same restrictions would apply on entry as they would if arriving in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

Bottom line

The changes to travel brought about by Brexit mainly affect U.K. citizens wishing to travel to the EU.

The main change for those wishing to travel to the U.K. applies to EU, EEA and Swiss citizens who will not be able to use their IDs to travel to the U.K. as of 1 October 2021.

Non-EU citizens, including travellers from the U.S., will be able to travel to the U.K. the same way as they could pre-Brexit.

Featured image by KTSDESIGN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY via Getty Images 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.