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Brexit is Finally Upon Us, and Here’s What It Means for Travelers



Brexit is finally upon us, as England formally withdrew from the European Union as of midnight, Jan. 31, in Great Britain.

The country is becoming independent again, even going back to the pound instead of the euro, as it breaks away from the EU. The official move comes more than three years after a June 2016 vote in which more than 17 million British citizens voted on the referendum. Some 52% voted to leave the EU compared to the 48% who wanted to stay.

England now goes into what is known as an 11-month ‘transition period’ or ‘implementation period.’ Britain will continue to follow all of the EU’s rules and its trading relationship will remain the same until it hammers out trade agreements with the 27 nations still in the EU.

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Much will change for residents of the United Kingdom.

And much will change for travelers to England, although not as drastically during the transition period. Travel between the UK and the rest of Europe remains exactly as it us until Dec. 31, 2020.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is, if England and the EU can’t come to its agreements at the end of the transition period this year, it could be a nightmare for travelers. Tourists might have to use different lines at airports and cruise terminals to gain entrance to the country.

If you plan on visiting England but using a ferry or the Channel Tunnel to drive a car into mainland Europe, you could need an International Driving Permit as well as a special ‘green card’ from your insurance agent.

Also, check your cell phone provider.

“Mobile roaming charges are likely to re-appear in Europe, so we’d advise travelers to check carefully with their providers, to avoid the potential for large unexpected bills,” James Lynn from Currensea, a travel payment card provider, told CNN.

Back to the good news – the dollar is much stronger than the pound, and that will benefit travelers from the U.S. to Britain.

“In the short term, we expect to see a continued recovery of the pound, but predict continued exchange rate volatility until the final withdrawal agreement is in place,” Lynn said. “Going into 2021, we see far greater uncertainty about the pound at this stage. A compromised withdrawal deal could lead to a far weaker pound, leading to a strong focus on cheaper destinations for holidaymakers as a result.”

A weak pound does mean that inbound tourism to the UK from outside the EU could be boosted. Visit Britain forecasts that spending by inbound tourists will have grown by 9.1% in 2020, to £25 billion ($32 billion), with inbound visits topping 38 million.

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