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Time is ticking ever closer to the end of the Brexit transition period, at which point the UK will face a number of big changes. Many of these will impact holidays to Europe.
Currently, Britons jetting off to EU nations are protected by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
The card provides a vital lifeline for holidaymakers who find themselves sick or injured while abroad, allowing them to access the same health care as citizens of the country they are visiting free of charge.
However, once the UK ends its transition period on December 31, the EHIC will no longer be valid for Britons.
Shockingly, following a survey of UK holidaymakers, travel insurance provider Holiday Extras found that as many as a third of people did not realise this change would come.
According to the survey’s findings: “One-third of UK travellers are unaware that the reciprocal protections UK travellers currently enjoy in Europe under the EHIC scheme will come to an end this year.
“Worse still, the travellers relying on EHIC instead of proper travel insurance even less likely to know the scheme will soon run out.”
Holidaymakers with plans to jet off to an EU destination in 2021 are warned to ensure they purchase adequate travel insurance, including a health care option, or they could face severe financial losses.
“We always recommend you take a good, comprehensive travel insurance policy whenever you leave the UK, so to find that almost 25 percent of travellers go without and that a third don’t know the EHIC scheme may not cover them after Brexit, is obviously a concern,” said a Holiday Extras spokesperson.
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The UK Government has issued a similar warning to those looking ahead to future travels across the continent.
“Your EHIC might not be valid from 1 January 2021,” warns the Gov.uk website.
“Buy travel insurance that comes with healthcare cover before you travel.”
It adds: “You should always get appropriate travel insurance with healthcare cover before you go abroad.
“It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition.
“This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.”
Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, has warned of the additional expenses Britons now face as a result of the Brexit changes.
“These potential changes to European travel will affect millions of holidaymakers, who may have already booked holidays for 2021 and will now have to factor in additional costs,” he said.
Other costs which are set to hit holidaymakers as a result of the EU departure include new data roaming charges and amended passport renewal guidelines.
“You may need to renew your British passport earlier if you’re travelling from 1 January 2021,” advises the UK Government.
“On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both have at least 6 months left, and be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left.)
“If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.”
At the time of writing, holidaymakers can enjoy free mobile roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, however, this could be set to change.
Despite this, some big-name providers including Three and O2 have vowed not to ramp up costs for using your phone while in Europe.
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