Post-Brexit rules rules for families travelling to France 

26 Jul 2023 09:09 by Kate Moore

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Read our essential guide - don't get caught out

Things are a little bit different for British nationals travelling in Europe. We’ve summarised the changes to explain how Brexit will impact your next family adventure. 

Preparing for a family adventure to France - top tips for families 

  • Check your passport’s issue and expiry dates and allow plenty of time to apply for a new passport if required 
  • Each family member will need a valid EHIC card or apply for a new GHIC before travel
  • You will need a photo driving licence to drive your vehicle in the EU 
  • Check your mobile phone provider’s roaming charges for France 
  • When you cross the French border be sure to carry your return tickets and proof of accommodation 
  • Families will not need to apply for a digital ETIAS pass to enter France in 2023

Will I need a new passport? 

Before Brexit, you could travel to EU countries on your passport right up to the point it expired. Now, the rules relating to the length of time left on our passport depend on the country you’re visiting. 

The new rules for British passport holders visiting France state that:

  • passports must be less than 10 years old on the day your group enters (check the 'date of issue')
  • passports must be valid for at least 3 months after the day your group leaves (check the 'expiry date')

If you renewed your passport early, the UK passport office used to credit you with any unspent time meaning some passports are valid for up to 10 years and nine months. Under the new French rules, these passports could fall foul of the passport validity rule if, when used, they are more than 10 years old.

Make sure you allow plenty of time to apply for your new dark blue passport.

Are our EHIC cards still valid?   

The good news is that your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is still valid in the EU until it expires.  

The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives holders access to state-provided emergency healthcare for free or reduced cost in the EU and Switzerland. Though not a substitute for travel insurance, the EHIC can help reduce your out-of-pocket medical expenses in the event that someone falls ill or has an accident while on holiday. 

You’ll be able to replace your EHIC with a GHIC (Global Health Insurance Card) up to 6 months before it expires. Applying for a GHIC is free of charge on the NHS website. Beware of unofficial websites, they may charge you a fee to apply. 

What about mobile roaming? 

Guaranteed free roaming in the EU ended on 1 January 2021 and so you may now be charged more for using your mobile device in France if your operator has reintroduced roaming charges.

Will we need a visa for our family adventure to France in 2023?  

No! British nationals can travel to France without additional paperwork in 2023. The much-delayed EU entry/exit system and ETIAS visa waiver schemes are not expected to be operational until late 2024 at the earliest.  

Should we expect any changes at the French border?  

Yes. Firstly, you may have to queue in separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens. Also, when you arrive in France, be prepared to show your return ticket and proof of accommodation for your stay. You may also be asked to show that you have enough money for your stay.  

Can I take food into the EU after Brexit? 

You are not allowed to bring any dairy or meat products into the EU from the UK and so don’t be tempted to pack chocolate, biscuits, Bovril or any other products that contain prohibited ingredients. The only exception is powdered infant milk and special foods required for medical reasons.

Will we be able to drive to our family adventure in France? 

Yes, the good news is that your UK photocard driving licence will continue to be valid in the EU. If you only have a paper licence, you will need to buy an International Driving Permit from the Post Office to drive in some European countries.   

If you are taking your own car, you will also need to pack your log book (V5C) and insurance documents. 

Do we need a Green Card to drive in Europe?  

No, you do not need to carry a green card when you drive in the EU. The Association of British Insurers states that all UK motor insurance policies provide the legal minimum third-party cover required to drive in the EU. Check with your insurance company whether they provide extra cover for things like accidental damage or theft while using your car abroad.  

Can we still use our GB car sticker to drive abroad? 

No! If you intend to drive your British vehicle in the EU you will now need to clearly display a “UK” sticker on the rear of your car. This replaces the GB sticker that was previously needed when driving abroad. If you still have a GB sticker it should be removed or covered.  




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