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What Brexit means for travelers



It finally happened. Three and a half years after the referendum vote, Brexit finally happened at the stroke of 11 p.m. in the United Kingdom on Jan. 31. The UK left the European Union. Sort of. 

Despite the pomp and circumstance of Brexit Day, there is still an 11-month period continuing through Dec. 31 during which the UK will still follow EU rules and be part of the single market and customs union. In that time, the sides will be working on hammering out a deal that sets the new relationship after 47 years. 

So what does it mean for you as a traveler? Well, for now, nothing really changes. Through the rest of 2020, travelers will be able to go between the UK and the EU without extra impediments (read: lines to stand in). The UK already was not part of the Schengen Area, the European countries between which people can travel without going through customs.

Unrelated to Brexit, but a good thing to remember is that beginning Jan. 1, 2021, North American travelers to the European Union will need to clear the European Travel Information and Authorization System. Clearance can be obtained online, and the €7 fee is good for three years.

In the short term, Brexit Day doesn’t mean a whole lot for travelers. As far as affordability, the exchange rate remains about $1.32 to the pound. In the long term, there are a whole host of issues that remain uncertain. Chief among them are whether the UK and EU will be able to work out a deal, whether Scotland will hold another referendum on independence from the UK (the 2014 vote was 55-44 in favor of remain) and whether there will be a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

For now at least, while Brexit is a milestone moment in European history, it won’t mess up your trip this year.

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