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UPDATED: How can Brits continue travelling to Italy after Brexit?

UPDATED: How can Brits continue travelling to Italy after Brexit?
Photo: Michele Tantussi/AFP
Can you still travel to Italy after January 31st? With Brexit day fast approaching, here's what you need to know about travel to Italy and other EU countries.

Brexit will affect many aspects of life, but one thing we get a lot of questions about at The Local is travel restrictions.

READ ALSO: Brexit countdown: What do Brits in Italy need to do before January 31st?

With the UK leaving the EU on January 31st under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, here's a look at what's changing and what stays the same.

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, once the UK leaves it will then enter a transition period, during which most things stay the same in terms of citizens' rights.

This period lasts until at least December 31st 2020 and it is possible it could be extended.

Does anything change for British passport holders?

Your British passport of course remains a valid document for both travel and ID purposes, but from January 31st it will no longer make you an EU citizen.

During the transition period your travel into, out of and around Europe remains visa-free so you do not need any supporting travel documents.

On Thursday, just one day before Brexit day, the British government published updated guidance on what British citizens can expect when travelling to Europe after the transition period ends.

It states that from the beginning of 2021, your passport must have more than six months' validity, and be less than ten years old.

Photo: AFP

Can I still travel freely through the EU?

During the transition period, yes. Freedom of movement remains unchanged during the transition period, both for people moving to EU countries to live and work or just travelling. So if your dream is to pack in the rat race and spend six months travelling through Europe then this is the time to do it.

After the transition period ends, there will be limits to how long UK citizens can spend at a time in the EU, even if they are not working there.

The government stated on January 30th: “If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.”

 
“You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.”
 
This seems to be the same as the rules already applied to other non-EU citizens like Americans and Australians.

However, travel to Ireland will not change from 2021. The UK governent states: “You’ll also be able to work in Ireland in the same way as before.”

 
Brits will have to queue for longer at passport control between the UK and the EU. British nationals will no longer be able tp use the EU/EEA/CH queue.

Uk governent guidance also states that, from next year, you might also have to show a return ticket and prove you have enough money for your stay when travelling between the EU and UK – something which might prove a headache for those who split their time between two or more countries.

Can I leave Italy and come back if I don't have all my residency papers?

During the transition period you can continue to travel freely without an Italian permesso di soggiorno, or residency permit.

However, there's a grey area around the end of the transition period.

Although UK citizens have until six months after the end of the transition period to apply for a permesso di soggiorno (so until June 2021), once the transition period ends (in December 2020) it will be needed when re-entering Italy after a trip outside the EU (for example, back to the UK).

A similar conundrum faced thousands of people in October when the threat of a no-deal exit loomed and many people did not have residency papers organised.

Despite repeated questions to both Italian and British authorities we never received a satisfactory answer to that question, and the best advice we've been able to offer was to take a dossier of paperwork proving your residency (rental contracts, utility bills etc) when travelling in and out of the EU.

With at least 11 months to go until the end of the transition period, hopefully that question can be answered this time.

READ ALSO:

Do I need extra travel insurance?

During the transition period, arrangements for healthcare remain the same, so if you have a valid EHIC card you can still use that and should you fall ill in any EU country your healthcare costs will be covered (although bear in mind that this only covers healthcare in the country you are in, and not repatriation to the UK).

After the transition period ends, EHIC cards issued by the UK will no longer be valid.

Healthcare arrangements for tourists after the end of the transition period are one of the many issues still to be addressed during the negotiations.

What if I'm travelling for business?

While you might imagine that the UK gvernment had made provisions to make things easier for the hgh number of people who regularly visit Europe for business meetings and other work reasons, that doesn't seem to be the case.

The government states that, after the transition period ends, while tourists will be able travel visa-free for short trips (up to 90 days out of 180), those visiting for work might need a visa for business travel.

The current government advice is that business travellers must check, depending on which country they're visiting and other factors, whether their qualifications are recognised in that country, whether they need to pay social security contributions in that country, whether they need insurance and whether they have the right documentation to take goods into that country. More details here.

What about pets?

It's not only people who need passports, of course – dogs, cats and ferrets travelling between the UK and the EU need an EU Pet Passport.

During the transition period these will continue to function as normal, making travel with your furry friend a fairly frictionless experience.

But after the transition period ends, pet owners will no longer be able to use the existing pet passport scheme.

The UK government states that from January 1st 2021  you’ll need to follow a different process, which takes four months – however, it is not yet clear exactly what that process is.

This will need to be dealt with during the transition period – essentially, the UK needs to apply to be 'listed' with the EU as a country providing adequate animal health controls. See more details here.

What if I have dual nationality?

With the continued uncertainty around the status of UK citizens after Brexit, many people have opted to take dual nationality – either applying for citizenship through residency of the European country they are living in or applying for another passport – such as an Irish one – through family connections.

READ ALSO:

If you are lucky enough to already hold the passport of an EU country, you'll need to start using this when you travel in and out of the EU in order to continue to benefit from freedom of movement.

What else do we know?

 
From 2021, you’ll need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries, although Italy is not one of them. More details.
 
If you’re taking your own vehicle, you’ll also need a ‘green card’ from your insurance company, and a GB sticker.
 
And just as we'd all got used to being able to use our phones as normal anywhere in Europe, roaming charges are now likely to be making a comeback.

“From January 1st 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end,” the government stated.

What don't we know?

What happens during the transition period is fairly clear, but when that's over there are still plenty of uncertainties.

Among the major ones are restrictions on the length of stay in EU countries – which is a big concern for second home owners in Italy – the process for applying for residency in Italy, and the restrictions on people who want to move to Italy after the end of the transition period.

These things are all supposed to be dealt with during the transition period, but that's currently only 11 months long, and the EU and UK also need to thrash out a trade deal during that time. So it's fair to say they have an ambitious workload.

Check out The Local's Brexit section for more details and updates. And if you have questions, please send them to us here and we will do our best to answer them.

The government stated on January 30th: “If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.”
 
“You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.”

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