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UK travellers are now being turned away at EU borders

Now the Brexit transition period has ended, British travellers are no longer exempt from a ban on travel from outside Europe

Huw Oliver
Written by
Huw Oliver

Brits hoping to get away to a Mediterranean beach over the coming months may well want to rethink their travel plans. As of December 31, when the Brexit transition period ended, the UK is no longer exempt from border restrictions that bar travel from outside the EU and the European Economic Area. Since January 1, there have been several reports of British holidaymakers being turned away from airports across the bloc.

Up to 13 Brits have been turned away at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, according to Dutch border force officials. This was because their trips were ‘non-essential’ and the UK is now subject to ‘third-party’ travel restrictions, a spokesperson told the Guardian. Others have been turned away at airports in Germany, while British citizens living in Spain have been unable to enter the country because their pre-Brexit paperwork was rejected as no longer valid.

Only a dozen or so countries with low transmission rates are currently exempt from the rules against travel from outside the bloc. EU commission officials have said there are no plans to include the UK alongside the likes of Australia, Japan and South Korea, where cases are significantly lower.

Were the UK to be officially confirmed as a ‘third-party’ country, individuals would only be able to enter the bloc in for certain work reasons (for example, if they are diplomats, care workers, aid workers, seasonal farm workers or transport workers), as well as for study, transit and urgent family reasons. EU nationals who live in the UK are still able to travel to Europe.

It’s possible that individual member states could override these official recommendations – for instance, if they don’t want to block off the lucrative British tourism market. But for now, it seems it may well be worth holding off on booking that European holiday until much later in the year.

Remember, many countries are still warning against all non-essential travel and some are quarantining all overseas arrivals, including their own returning citizens. Check all the relevant restrictions before you think about travelling.

How safe is flying right now? We asked an expert.

Here’s everything you need to know about travel to Europe after Brexit.

More on travel restrictions

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