Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 May 2019

EU offers visa-free travel for UAE Britons

British passport holders will be able to holiday in the EU for up to 90 days without a visa

The EU flag in Berlin. Jochen Eckel / The National
The EU flag in Berlin. Jochen Eckel / The National

There was welcome relief for British passport holders in the UAE on Friday after the EU will allow UK citizens to holiday in the bloc without a visa, even in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Britons will be permitted to travel to and around the 26 countries in the European Schengen area without a visa for up to 90 days out of 180.

EU ambassadors agreed the deal, which will now be passed over to the European Parliament.

Britain has already made a similar gesture for EU tourists visiting the UK.

Despite the visa clarification, questions still remain over how car and travel insurance will work for British holidaymakers in the EU if the Britain leaves without a deal.

Currently motorists with a UK registered vehicle travelling to the bloc do not need any extra documentation to prove that they have relevant cover.

But if Britain leaves the EU without an agreement, motorists will be required to carry a Green Card- a physical piece of paper which outlines the insurance cover they have- to be presented when they travel across the borders.

The Green Card will have to be obtained from the motorist’s insurer and a small administration fee is likely to apply.

If there is an agreement, motor insurance bodies in Britain and the EU have agreed that the Green Card scheme will not be necessary. Although the European Commission is holding off approving the agreement until the withdrawal deal has been passed through the British parliament.

“We’re advising that if there is no deal then people will be required to get a Green Card to drive in the EU,” said a spokesman for the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which represents 250 insurance companies in the UK.

However, it is less clear how a no deal Brexit will impact travel insurance and in particular healthcare.

As it stands, UK citizens can access free (or at reduced cost) state-provided healthcare with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).

But if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal, holidaymakers will have to arrange alternative healthcare cover through their travel insurer.

“Our members have said that in the case of a no deal Brexit, if a policy has already been bought that it will pay for things that the EHIC will have covered,” the ABI spokesman said. Although he warned that cheaper insurance companies may not offer the same protection.

The ABI is recommending that customers buy travel insurance as soon as they buy a holiday to protect themselves from travel disruption, which might occur in the event of a disorderly Brexit.

Updated: February 1, 2019 07:15 PM