From January 1, 2021, travel to the EU will change slightly for UK visitors. Here is a sum-up of what you should keep in mind when planning your stay in Belgium:
From January 1, you will have to ensure that your British passport is still valid for a minimum of six months after your date of return.
Formalities at the border
UK visitors will be directed towards the non-EU passport lanes, where their passport will be stamped.
Length of stay
Following Brexit, UK citizens will not require a visa when staying less than 90 days per 6 months in the Schengen area. This is also referred to as the 90/180 rule. It applies to both leisure and business trips.
Longer stays are possible but will require a visa.
From 2022, British visitors will need to register for a permit under the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) before travelling to the Schengen area. This can be done online and, in most cases, will be obtained rapidly.
Travellers will have to declare name, date of birth, passport number and criminal offences in the past 10 years, or 20 for terrorism. The fee will be €7. Once obtained, the permit will last three years.
This is a relatively light-touch visa, similar to the Esta used by the US.
More information: https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/etias/
Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020. After that date, you will need to arrange for appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before travelling. It’s worth noting that at the moment the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.
More information: Foreign travel insurance
While Belgium does not require UK drivers to have an international driving permit (IDP), do check the requirement from the other countries you might be driving through.
Motorists who take their own vehicle will need to obtain a ‘green card’ from their car insurance company (proof that they have motor insurance cover when driving abroad). They must make sure a GB sticker is displayed at the back of the vehicle (and trailer, caravan…), even if their number plate already shows GB with a Euro symbol.
- Driving in the EU from 2021 - GB stickers and number plates
Travelling with pets
From 1 January 2021, you will not be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. A different process, which takes about 4 months will be implemented. The details are yet to be announced.
More information: https://www.gov.uk/taking-your-pet-abroad/getting-a-pet-passport
Mobile roaming charges
Guaranteed free mobile roaming for British citizens will end from January 1st, 2021. Travelers should check with their mobile operator to find out how much they may be charged to use their phone abroad.
As per the new law, users will be notified by their operator once they have spent £45, at which point they will have to opt in to continue using the internet.
Returning to the UK
Previously there were no limits on the value of goods you could bring in from European Union nations for personal use. This changes from the start of 2021, when the European Union will be treated the same as the rest of the world.
It means there will be a limit on what you can bring back free of custom duty:
- Alcohol: 4 litres of spirits or 8 litres of sparkling wine, 18 litres of still wine and 42 litres of beer
- Tobacco: 200 cigarettes
There is a limit of £390 for all other goods.