Book a summer vacation abroad? Here is what you need to know | Consumer affairs

HHolidaymakers from England, Scotland and Wales have been given the green light for overseas travel. Travel is limited to a small number of countries, but early signs are proving popular with those desperate for a change of scenery – this week Tui announced he would be rolling out bigger planes to meet the demand for trips to Portugal. Flight bookings to Madeira Island rose 625% just after the announcement of the countries’ green list, according to the Skyscanner site, while demand for Gibraltar jumped 335%.

For most people, this will be the first overseas trip since the UK’s post-Brexit transition period ended. Here is our guide to booking a trip during Covid time and beyond EU time.

In which circumstances can i claim travel insurance?

Since March 2020, insurers have drafted and rewritten their travel policies on several occasions as understanding and responses to the coronavirus pandemic evolve. Although conditions vary by company, most will now cover your medical treatment if you contract Covid-19 while you are away.

Most will also cover cancellation of your trip if you, or a member of your party, contract the virus before you leave – in some cases this can be detected during your pre-flight test. Only certain policies will cover you if you are forced to cancel because the NHS test and trace told you to self-isolate, a proposition realistic enough that it is essential that you research this clause before signing up.

However, no company will cover the cancellation of your trip if you cannot go on vacation because your home region or destination is blocked after your booking. Policies have changed so much since March of last year that you need to check what you’re covered for, especially if you have insurance provided by a bank account.

Lack of cancellation coverage will not be a problem for anyone booking a package tour, as the tour operator will be forced to cancel if the destination country prohibits entry or if the Foreign Office advises against doing so. to bring back. A few insurers – Staysure is the best known – will cover you (at an additional cost) if the Foreign Office advises against tourist travel to a destination open in all other respects.

Delay the booking as long as you can, then get insurance quickly – after carefully reading the policy documents before paying. In general, the key to booking overseas travel this year is to opt for cancellable hotel and car rental options, which means you can limit your losses if the worst happens. Pay by credit card, no debit, and consider a package (flight plus hotel) for the best Atol protection it offers.

How much will a trip cost?

Travel company Tui is switching to larger planes to meet the demand for travel to Portugal. Photograph: Pedro Nunes / Reuters

The cost of traveling to Green List countries seems to have increased with demand, but there are still relatively cheap flights available to Lisbon and other destinations, if you are not fussy when traveling.

For package holidays, traveling to the Algarve in well-rated self-catering accommodation during the first full week of August will cost £ 1,200 for a family of four if you want to go on a Saturday, but will be cheaper if you go. middle of the week.

A two-night weekend in Iceland for two adults in early September costs from £ 436 for a room and flights.

The good news for those considering a trip to Portugal is that the Algarve is one of the cheapest resorts in the world for holiday spending, according to the Post’s annual Travel Money Survey. He looked at the price of eight things, including a three-course meal for two, a can of Coca-Cola, a local beer, and a bottle of sunscreen, and found that they were only cheaper than in Sunny. Beach, Bulgaria, and Marmaris, Turkey. . Funchal in Madeira – another destination allowed by the green list – was 10th on the world list.

How long can I stay in Europe?

The days of staying as long as you want in the EU are over for UK passport holders – but you can still enjoy two weeks in the Algarve without additional paperwork. Britain and the EU have agreed to travel visa-free for short visits, meaning UK passport holders can spend up to 90 days in the Schengen area over a period of 180 days.

This can be a series of short visits or a long visit, and it applies to all EU countries except Bulgaria (excluding Schengen), Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. You could take a 90-day trip in one of them and not use your 90-day Schengen allowance. The same goes for Ireland, which allows unrestricted travel from the UK as part of a common travel zone for UK nationals.

At border control you may be required to present a return or onward ticket, show that you have enough money for your stay, and use separate lanes for EU, EEA and EU citizens. Swiss. Your passport will be stamped.

What’s wrong with passports?

The rock is pictured in Gibraltar with boats in the foreground
The Skyscanner website reports that demand for trips to Gibraltar has increased by 335%. Photograph: Cristina Quicler / AFP / Getty Images

If you haven’t checked your passport for a while, why would you? – worth doing this weekend. Before Brexit, a passport simply had to be valid to visit the EU – now you need to have at least six months before your passport expires to be allowed entry. He must also be under 10 years old. These rules do not apply to travel to Ireland, where a UK passport only needs to be valid for the duration of your stay.

It costs £ 75.50 to renew or replace your passport online, or £ 85 if you complete a paper form. Standard service takes 10 weeks.

Ehic or Ghic?

If your European Health Insurance Card (Ehic) has not expired – over 6 million have expired this year – you can still use it in the EU this summer. These cards give you access to public hospitals or general practitioners at the same price as a local person. They are free, worth buying, and are meant to be carried by travel insurers.

If your Ehic has expired, apply for a comprehensive health insurance card (Ghic), which you can obtain for free. Despite its name, as with the old British Ehic, it will only cover you in EU countries. You will need to apply separately for each member of your family, including children, and you should expect the card to take 10 days to arrive. Don’t be surprised by websites that ask for payment – Ghics are always free.

What happened to duty free – is it still valid?

Brexit means that most Britons (not those in Northern Ireland) who fly to European destinations can purchase duty-free alcohol and tobacco when they leave the country. The HMRC says holidaymakers could save up to £ 11.50 in duty on a liter of vodka, whiskey or any other hard liquor – over 40%. Previously, only those leaving for non-EU destinations could purchase duty free supplies on departure. The EU allows entrants to bring in a liter of spirits, duty free.

Travelers returning to the UK are limited to 18 liters of wine (either two cases or 24 bottles), 42 liters of beer and four liters of spirits or liqueurs containing more than 22% alcohol – plus up to 200 cigarettes , all duty free. . For visits to countries on the current green list, this will probably be more than enough, given that you are unlikely to take the car. You can bring more but must declare it and pay the duty.

Woman traveler shopping for duty free alcohol in an airport duty free shop
Travelers returning to the UK are limited to four liters of spirits or liqueurs. Photograph: Alamy

At the same time, those from England, Wales and Scotland returning from holidays in the EU cannot bring in further purchases worth up to £ 390 tax-free. Travelers reporting higher value purchases must declare all of their goods and may be subject to customs duties, and import VAT.

Drive Europe and renting a car – what has changed?

The good news is that UK photo card driving licenses will be accepted in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. It was believed that drivers here would need an international post office driver’s license. Holders of an old paper license may still need to obtain one or upgrade to a photo license.

If you are hiring a car, the UK Photo License will work in most countries. Your rental company may ask to see your driver’s license information when you collect the car. You can share this by getting a license verification code up to 21 days before your trip.

A sign showing the way to car rental companies at an airport.
The UK photo license will work for most countries if you are hiring a car. Photograph: Mike Ford / Alamy

Cyprus is not on the green list, but when travel is allowed there again, Rentalcars says anyone renting for more than 30 days in Cyprus will need the 1949 IDP.

Drivers who bring their own cars to the mainland will need a green card to prove they are insured. Your insurer will send you one or email you one, which in the latter case you will need to print in color – because they are really green. They apply in the EU – including Ireland – and in Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Serbia and Switzerland.

Mobile roaming: is it still free in Europe?

The four major providers – EE, O2, Vodafone and Three – have said they have no plans to end free roaming for Brits in the EU – although they could reimpose charges to after Brexit. Calls and texts to home and to local numbers in the country you are in are billed as if you were at home. UK data quotas can also be used within the EU, subject to a fair use policy in certain cases.

Additional reporting by Hilary Osborne

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