How Brexit Will Affect & Impact Travel

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An overview on the United Kingdom leaving the European Union and how this will change travel to and from the UK.

Updated: 13 July 2016, and will continue to be updated as more information is made known.

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The recent Brexit vote and the United Kingdom’s confirmation of withdrawal from the European Union is a big deal in so many ways, from the world economy to industry and beyond. Here, we’ll focus on how Brexit will affect and impact travelers and the travel industry.

Borders

The foremost concern, it seems, for travelers is how the borders between the UK and the continent might be impacted. It is important to remember that the United Kingdom has always excluded itself from the Schengen Area, by means of an opt-out. Thus, there have always been border controls, though its EU status allows citizens to move and reside in other countries.

Flip through the tabs below to see how Brexit might affect borders, based on citizenship:

For Citizens of the United Kingdom

Currently: Nothing has changed yet, and it will be at least a year and a half (and possibly years longer) until the UK is legally disconnected. The UK is still a full member of the EU, and all UK citizens are still able to move about and live in any of the 27 other EU member countries.

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): Once the UK leaves the EU, it will have to apply its new terms for each member state. Depending on how negotiations go during the two years after Article 50 is invoked, everything may remain the same, but it could be that UK citizens may need a visa to enter the EU in the future.

For Citizens of the European Union

Currently: Nothing has changed yet, and it will be at least a year and a half (and possibly years longer) until the UK is legally disconnected. The UK is still a full member of the EU, and all EU citizens are still able to move to and live in any of the United Kingdom’s constituent countries (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland).

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): Once the UK leaves the EU, it will have to apply its new terms for each member state. The UK may want to keep its access to the Common Market, and thus maintain free travel for EU citizens, but it could also grant varying visitation rights per country (like visa-free for Germans but a visa-upon-arrival for the French).

For Citizens of All Other Countries

Currently: Nothing has changed yet, and it will be at least a year and a half (and possibly years longer) until the UK is legally disconnected. As the UK was never a member of the Schengen Agreement, there have always been border checks into and out of the UK, and those will continue.

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): Again, the UK wasn’t in the Schengen Area, so a non-EU citizen has always needed UK-specific approval (such as a visa) to enter. This won’t change.

+ UK

For Citizens of the United Kingdom

Currently: Nothing has changed yet, and it will be at least a year and a half (and possibly years longer) until the UK is legally disconnected. The UK is still a full member of the EU, and all UK citizens are still able to move about and live in any of the 27 other EU member countries.

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): Once the UK leaves the EU, it will have to apply its new terms for each member state. Depending on how negotiations go during the two years after Article 50 is invoked, everything may remain the same, but it could be that UK citizens may need a visa to enter the EU in the future.

+ EU

For Citizens of the European Union

Currently: Nothing has changed yet, and it will be at least a year and a half (and possibly years longer) until the UK is legally disconnected. The UK is still a full member of the EU, and all EU citizens are still able to move to and live in any of the United Kingdom’s constituent countries (England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland).

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): Once the UK leaves the EU, it will have to apply its new terms for each member state. The UK may want to keep its access to the Common Market, and thus maintain free travel for EU citizens, but it could also grant varying visitation rights per country (like visa-free for Germans but a visa-upon-arrival for the French).

+ Others

For Citizens of All Other Countries

Currently: Nothing has changed yet, and it will be at least a year and a half (and possibly years longer) until the UK is legally disconnected. As the UK was never a member of the Schengen Agreement, there have always been border checks into and out of the UK, and those will continue.

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): Again, the UK wasn’t in the Schengen Area, so a non-EU citizen has always needed UK-specific approval (such as a visa) to enter. This won’t change.

Borders (Other Possible Scenarios)

Besides the obvious border concerns between the UK and the rest of the EU, there are other borders that may be reconfigured in the future. The two most apparent would be:

  • The border between the Republic of Ireland (EU, not Schengen) and Northern Ireland (part of UK)
  • The border between Scotland and the rest of the UK

These will take some time to see how everything will play out, but it is a possibility that Scotland and Northern Ireland may each hold their own referendums on whether to leave the UK, as both constituent countries were more in favor of the UK’s continued EU membership.

Should Scotland and/or N. Ireland part with the UK, they will each most likely join the European Union; actually, the only way they would leave the UK would really be if they had EU assurances first that they would be accepted into the EU. Thus, the remainder of the UK, which might just be England and Wales, would likely follow any rules that the rest of the EU has placed on it.

Scotland‘s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that she won’t seek a physical border between Scotland and England, though she admits that they’re “in uncharted territory right now.”[source]

Northern Ireland has voiced less support than Scotland for leaving the UK, but it will be something to watch either way. There is very little chance that the Irish on either side of their island would allow a border between them.

Cost of Travel Post-Brexit

I hate to seem so insensitive and talk about the impact that Brexit will have on flight prices, but I must do so, as it is relevant for this site. Brexit was a major event with global reach, with some saying that it is the most important world event since the collapse of the Soviet Union, even.

Flip through the tabs below to see how Brexit might affect travel costs, based on citizenship:

For Citizens of the United Kingdom

Currently: Things everywhere will feel a bit more expensive. GBP took a big hit in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit announcement, so everything abroad will cost a bit more. The euro also took a hit, however, so the difference on the continent will not be as shocking as the exchange rate with USD, for example.

  • 22 June: £1 = €1.30, $1.47 (USD), or ¥153.
  • 27 June: £1 = €1.21, $1.34 (USD), or ¥136.

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): It is hard to see how this will continue to play out, but it could go either way. If countries within the EU follow the UK’s steps and leave also, it could weaken the euro considerably more than the pound. But the pound could actually fall a lot more, as well, as many corporations based in the UK, especially financial institutions, contemplate relocation.

For Citizens of the European Union

Currently: The euro fell a bit after the Brexit results were made known, with 1€ = $1.13 the day before (23 June), and 1€ = $1.10 now (27 June). However, it still did not fall as far as the pound, which means that prices in the UK will feel cheaper: 1€ = £0.76 the day before (23 June), and 1€ = £0.82 now (27 June). Somehow, the euro actually gained against the Polish Zloty (PLN), though Poland is itself part of the EU (not yet using the euro currency), with 1€ = ~4.35zł pre-Brexit and 1€ = ~4.44zł now (27 June); a trip to Warsaw or London would not cost as much now for most Europeans.

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): Again, it is hard to know how this will play out, but it could go either way. If countries within the EU follow the UK’s steps and leave also, it could weaken the euro considerably more than the pound. But the euro really has more of a chance of gaining value, at least against GBP, as many corporations based in the UK, especially financial institutions, contemplate relocation, most likely to mainland Europe, such as Frankfurt or Brussels.

For Citizens of All Other Countries

Currently: Both the euro and the British pound took a hit after the Brexit results were announced, though the pound was the real loser. The euro and pound have suffered against almost every currency pair (that I could find, at least), which translates into more cost-effective EU travel for those with outside money. For example:

  • A £500 flight JFK-LHR translated to $730 on 22 June, and now
  • A £500 flight JFK-LHR translates to $670 on 27 June!
  • A €1000 flight LAX-TXL translated to $1130 on 22 June, and now
  • A €1000 flight LAX-TXL translates to $1100 on 27 June.

Somehow the euro didn’t lose ground to the Canadian dollar, so far.

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): There is still so much left unknown, so it is quite hard to speculate. However, the euro and the pound now will have at least a bit of an inverse relationship, so where one gains, the other might be driven lower.

+ UK

For Citizens of the United Kingdom

Currently: Things everywhere will feel a bit more expensive. GBP took a big hit in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit announcement, so everything abroad will cost a bit more. The euro also took a hit, however, so the difference on the continent will not be as shocking as the exchange rate with USD, for example.

  • 22 June: £1 = €1.30, $1.47 (USD), or ¥153.
  • 27 June: £1 = €1.21, $1.34 (USD), or ¥136.

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): It is hard to see how this will continue to play out, but it could go either way. If countries within the EU follow the UK’s steps and leave also, it could weaken the euro considerably more than the pound. But the pound could actually fall a lot more, as well, as many corporations based in the UK, especially financial institutions, contemplate relocation.

+ EU

For Citizens of the European Union

Currently: The euro fell a bit after the Brexit results were made known, with 1€ = $1.13 the day before (23 June), and 1€ = $1.10 now (27 June). However, it still did not fall as far as the pound, which means that prices in the UK will feel cheaper: 1€ = £0.76 the day before (23 June), and 1€ = £0.82 now (27 June). Somehow, the euro actually gained against the Polish Zloty (PLN), though Poland is itself part of the EU (not yet using the euro currency), with 1€ = ~4.35zł pre-Brexit and 1€ = ~4.44zł now (27 June); a trip to Warsaw or London would not cost as much now for most Europeans.

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): Again, it is hard to know how this will play out, but it could go either way. If countries within the EU follow the UK’s steps and leave also, it could weaken the euro considerably more than the pound. But the euro really has more of a chance of gaining value, at least against GBP, as many corporations based in the UK, especially financial institutions, contemplate relocation, most likely to mainland Europe, such as Frankfurt or Brussels.

+ Others

For Citizens of All Other Countries

Currently: Both the euro and the British pound took a hit after the Brexit results were announced, though the pound was the real loser. The euro and pound have suffered against almost every currency pair (that I could find, at least), which translates into more cost-effective EU travel for those with outside money. For example:

  • A £500 flight JFK-LHR translated to $730 on 22 June, and now
  • A £500 flight JFK-LHR translates to $670 on 27 June!
  • A €1000 flight LAX-TXL translated to $1130 on 22 June, and now
  • A €1000 flight LAX-TXL translates to $1100 on 27 June.

Somehow the euro didn’t lose ground to the Canadian dollar, so far.

Later (Upon Completion of UK’s withdrawal from EU): There is still so much left unknown, so it is quite hard to speculate. However, the euro and the pound now will have at least a bit of an inverse relationship, so where one gains, the other might be driven lower.

Other Possible Future Considerations

There are many details that will need to be worked out between the UK and the EU. As of now, everything remains the same, and the UK is still a member of the European Union. However, here are some possibilities to consider:

For Citizens of the United Kingdom

Passports: The UK passport has the EU symbols on it, but most likely, there will be no required alteration; UK passports will probably just phase themselves out with time, and will not have any EU marking upon renewal.

Driver’s License: Same as UK passports.

The Flag: Yes, even the famous Union Jack might have to change. As the Kingdom’s flag is really the flags of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England all combined into one. So, if either Northern Ireland, Scotland, or both decide to leave the UK, there’ll have to be some thought on this.

European Health Insurance Card: The EHIC, for UK citizens will continue to work as it does now, but the benefits will have to be renegotiated for when the Brexit is complete, which will likely be no sooner than the end of 2017.

For Citizens of the European Union

Currently: The holders of EU driver’s licenses will continue to be able to use it to drive in the UK as long as the United Kingdom is part of the European Union (so probably at least until the end of 2017). After that, the worst outcome would be the inability to drive in the UK.

European Health Insurance Card: The EHIC, for European citizens that are granted it, will continue to work in the UK as it does now, but the benefits will have to be renegotiated for when the Brexit is complete, which will likely be no sooner than the end of 2017.

For Citizens of All Other Countries

There are countless things that may change as the result of Brexit, or, they may not. The main thing to keep in mind is that nothing changes until the completion of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, so probably at least not before 2018.

The United Kingdom had many international agreements tied in with the European Union’s, such as trade, so they will have to renegotiate deals with every country. This will take years, so it is impossible to even try to guess what might happen.

+ UK

For Citizens of the United Kingdom

Passports: The UK passport has the EU symbols on it, but most likely, there will be no required alteration; UK passports will probably just phase themselves out with time, and will not have any EU marking upon renewal.

Driver’s License: Same as UK passports.

The Flag: Yes, even the famous Union Jack might have to change. As the Kingdom’s flag is really the flags of Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England all combined into one. So, if either Northern Ireland, Scotland, or both decide to leave the UK, there’ll have to be some thought on this.

European Health Insurance Card: The EHIC, for UK citizens will continue to work as it does now, but the benefits will have to be renegotiated for when the Brexit is complete, which will likely be no sooner than the end of 2017.

+ EU

For Citizens of the European Union

Currently: The holders of EU driver’s licenses will continue to be able to use it to drive in the UK as long as the United Kingdom is part of the European Union (so probably at least until the end of 2017). After that, the worst outcome would be the inability to drive in the UK.

European Health Insurance Card: The EHIC, for European citizens that are granted it, will continue to work in the UK as it does now, but the benefits will have to be renegotiated for when the Brexit is complete, which will likely be no sooner than the end of 2017.

+ Others

For Citizens of All Other Countries

There are countless things that may change as the result of Brexit, or, they may not. The main thing to keep in mind is that nothing changes until the completion of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, so probably at least not before 2018.

The United Kingdom had many international agreements tied in with the European Union’s, such as trade, so they will have to renegotiate deals with every country. This will take years, so it is impossible to even try to guess what might happen.

Other

We’ll continue to update this as the events unfold.

*This article from Refinery29 needs to be fixed (states UK is part of Schengen).

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