Experts agree – Brexit is one big fat mess. Theresa May is still negotiating with the EU on behalf of Britain, trying to get the best possible divorce terms for her country, but a few major sticking points remain, most notably what to do about the border with Northern Ireland.
It’s all too complicated for us to try to dissect in any meaningful way here. (It’s something to do with Northern Ireland becoming a backdoor trade route to the EU, which Britain doesn’t want? Or maybe the EU doesn’t want that? Who knows.) What we can do is provide some insight on how Brexit will affect travel to Europe and travel within Europe + Britain.
First, let’s look at the impact on the British. More than 50,000 Brits fly into Spain – mostly for beach vacations – on an average day. Without a deal in place, as of March 2019 British planes will not have the legal right to land in any European countries. That’s obviously got to be weighing heavily on May as she continues to negotiate.
Further down the list of priorities, it’s not yet clear whether British people will need visas to visit European countries after the divorce is finalized. What does seem clear is that they will no longer get to enjoy free and discounted admission to a number of museums and attractions around Europe currently enjoyed by EU citizens.
As for the European Union, it looks as though any EU citizen who wants to visit Britain post-divorce will need a passport to do so. Travel between EU countries only requires a national ID card, so this new burden will certainly hinder travel, as many Europeans do not have passports. With travel so easy between all the countries in the EU, it’s unlikely that many Europeans will get passports just so that they can visit Britain.
The tourism industry in Britain is also heavily supported by Europeans who come to Britain seasonally to work hospitality jobs. Without this workforce, the British tourism industry is bound to suffer – though they’ll probably have a lot fewer tourists, so maybe it will all even out? Just not in terms of financial success. It’s also, obviously, a big hit for the people who rely on that seasonal work.
As for us Americans traveling to Europe? The plane thing becomes an issue again, as it’s quite common for many flights from America to Europe to have layovers in Britain. If that chain needs to be broken, it will make air travel more expensive and less convenient for everyone. We are unlikely to need any sort of visa to Europe in the near future, but the world is changing fast.
We’ll do our best to keep you up to date.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.