Like it or loathe it, for most UK citizens it’s all change on 11pm on 31 December 2020.  We’ve tried to summarise below the main points of difference that you need to think about when motorcycle touring in the EU.  You can also consult the government website https://www.gov.uk/visit-europe-1-january-2021

Passport

On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:

  • have at least 6 months left
  • be less than 10 years old (even if it has 6 months or more left)

So check your passport now and apply for a new one if needed as soon as possible.  This does not apply to travel to Ireland.  Always make sure your passport is in good condition – not ripped, pages missing, damaged – if it’s gone through the washing machine, you may need to get a new one!

Border control

At border control, you will need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing.  You also may need to:

  • show a return or onward ticket
  • show you have enough money for your stay

In our experience 1) and 2) above are common requirements for many countries around the world but are very rarely asked for.  We’d be really surprised if you have to produce them.

No Tourist Visa Required

If you’re a UK tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips for tourism to most EU countries, and the non-EU countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, which are within the Schengen Area.  You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.  Different rules will apply to the EU countries of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania because these countries are not within the Schengen area.  If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total or vice versa.

Taking food and drink into EU countries

You will not be able to take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries from 1 January 2021.  So, no more taking over the sausage butties as a treat on the Euro Tunnel.  There are some exceptions – check the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website.

Driving

Insurance & Green Card:  When taking your own motorcycle, you will need a Green Card (as proof of minimum third party liability cover for riding your motorcycle).  We would advise anyone who intends to go touring in Spring 2021, to contact their UK insurer as soon as possible to get a Green Card.  There are indications that it may take up to 6 weeks for insurers to issue the document.  Some insurers may issue a downloadable Green Card and which the UK Government advises that you can print out the green cards yourself.  They no longer need to be printed on green paper. A digital copy of a Green Card is NOT acceptable.  You must have the physical piece of paper.

GB Sticker: You will also need GB sticker on your motorcycle, even if you have the old EU / GB symbol as an integral part of your registration plate.

Driving Licence & IDP:  If you hold a UK issued pink photocard driving licence, you do not need an International Driving Permit (“IDP”) to drive in the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein. But if you’ve got the old paper driving licence, then you may need an IDP depending on where you are travelling to.  It’s strongly recommended to update your driving licence to the pink ID style.

Other Driving Related Documents:  In addition to the above, always remember to take the following driving related documents

  • Original V5C vehicle registration certificate (the ‘log book’)
  • Vehicle insurance certificate (in addition to above Green Card)
  • European Breakdown Cover policy number and documents
  • Ensure your vehicle’s tax and MOT are valid and up-to-date

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

When you travel to an EU country you should have either:

  • a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)
  • a UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC)
  • travel insurance with healthcare cover

A European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in the EU.  The UK has reached an agreement on healthcare when visiting the EU.  You can continue to use an EHIC or get a provisional replacement certificate (PRC) if you need treatment and do not have a card.

Once your EHIC expires, you can apply for a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) instead of an EHIC.  You do not need to apply for a GHIC if you already have an EHIC. Your EHIC remains valid in the EU until it expires.

From 1 January 2021, GHICs and most UK EHICs will not cover you in Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland.  If you’re visiting those countries, make sure you have travel insurance with health cover

The following websites provide useful information about healthcare when you travel in the EU

https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/healthcare-abroad/apply-for-a-free-ehic-european-health-insurance-card/

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/uk-residents-visiting-the-eueea-and-switzerland-healthcare

Irrespective of the above, we strongly recommend you have a travel / medical insurance policy in place for your trip.

Taking medicine with you

You need a letter to prove your medicine is prescribed to you if it contains a ‘controlled drug’. You may need to show this at the border when you’re entering or leaving the UK.

Check your mobile phone company’s policy on data roaming

Rules around mobile data roaming are changing meaning you may face charges when using your phone abroad, including for making calls, sending messages or using the internet.  The UK’s four main phone networks – EE, Three, Vodafone and O2 – promised in the summer not to reintroduce charges, but check with your mobile phone provider about their data roaming policy.