Post-Brexit rules rules for families travelling to France in 2022 

18 Jul 2022 12:09 by Kate Moore

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Read our essential guide - don't get caught out

It's been a while since families have ventured abroad and many people are unaware of how the rules have changed for British nationals travelling in Europe. Now that French travel is back on the cards, we’ve summarised the changes to explain how Brexit will impact your next family adventure. 

Preparing for a family adventure in France in 2023 - 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 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 
  • It is expected that families will need to apply for a digital ETIAS pass to enter the EU after the 2023 summer holiday season

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 which will replace the burgundy coloured EU document.  

Will our EHIC cards still be 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.  The UK and EU have agreed to cooperate on “fair and transparent” rates for mobile roaming including a £45-a-month cap on using mobile data abroad. 

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

A new visa waiver system is expected to come into effect after the summer holiday season. The new rules will require UK passport holders to apply online for an ETIAS to enter France and other countries in the EU Schengen Zone. ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System and is designed to keep track of visitors from the UK who do not need a visa to enter the EU.   

The ETIAS will be valid for 3 years and will cost €7 per adult. Under 18’s will also need an ETIAS to travel in the EU but will not be charged a fee for the permit. The delayed ETIAS system is expected to be operational in November 2023. The date from which travellers will be able to apply will be published on the European Commission website.

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. Read more on the EU website. 

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 your log book (V5C) and insurance documents. 

Do we need a Green Card to drive in Europe?  

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.  

Is my UK pet passport still valid in the EU?  

Your pet passport will no longer be valid to travel to the EU. Instead, you will need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) issued by a vet. The AHC confirms that your pet is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies and must be obtained no more than 10 days before travel. AHCs are valid for a single trip into, and around, the EU and re-entry to Great Britain and are valid for up to four months. 

What about COVID-19 travel restrictions for family holidays to France? 

These requirements relate to holidays to France following Brexit. For the latest COVID-19 travel advice, please visit our France travel guide.

I'm ready for my family adventure to France! What holidays are available to book? 

We have launched 2023 dates and availability at Château de la Baudonnière and our kayak adventure in the Ardèche.


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