Holidays to France post Brexit – your questions answered!

So. It happened. On Jan. 1, Britain officially left the EU and it will mean changes for how people travel to and from France.

Fortunately, Brexit doesn’t mean huge changes for holidays in France, but it’s a good idea to be in the know about the new rules – avoiding those last minute passport dilemmas!

Holiday to France post Brexit

What are the new rules for holidays to France?


No Visa Required

The good news is, you won’t need to apply for a visa to travel to France. However, you will only be allowed to spend 90 days out of every 180 in the EU (the U.K. will allow European citizens to stay for up to six consecutive months).

Six Months on Your Passport

British travellers in Europe will also have to have at least six months left on their passports a

EHIC has Ended

Brits will no longer be issued the European Health Insurance Card, which guarantees access to medical care across the bloc. There is a replacement system, more details below.

Pet Travel Allowed

The Animal Health Certificate will replace the Pet Passport. You will need to get this Certificate no more than 10 days before departure. Read more on the latest 2021 guidelines taking your pet to France here.

Green Card needed for Driving

The deal means British drivers won’t need an international driving permit once they cross the Channel. British motorists can travel in the EU on their U.K. licenses and insurance, as long as they carry proof that they are insured in the form of a “green card.”

Post brexit holidays to France infographic

The Brexit Holiday Rules…in more detail

Will I need a travel visa to holiday in France?

The good news is that you will not need a travel visa if you are planning a holiday in France. The bad news is that there are now limits on how long you can stay. Brexit does mean that you can only stay in France for have a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period. You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

What are the new Passport rules for Brexit?

Let’s face it, it’s the feeling we are probably most nervous about when travelling abroad – have I got my passport and more importantly, is it still in date. I’m sure many of you like me will be frantically checking only at the moment of arrival at the ferry port / airport!

In summary, 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)

What insurance will I need when travelling to France in 2021?

For medical insurance on your holiday to France, your existing European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid until it runs out (the cards have an expiry date on the front of them). It will then be replaced by a new Global Heath Insurance Card (GHIC).

The EHIC currently entitles you to state-provided medical treatment if you fall ill or have an accident in any EU country and covers pre-existing medical conditions and routine maternity care, as well as emergency care. Individuals with chronic illnesses, for example those who require dialysis, can travel knowing they will receive treatment on the same terms as the citizens of the country they are visiting.

If your EHIC has expired (or is about to), you should apply for its replacement – the new UK GHIC.  It will cover chronic or existing illnesses and routine maternity care as well as emergencies, but treatments such as dialysis or chemotherapy will have to be pre-arranged to ensure they are available at your destination.

Be aware that the UK government website says that the GHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and it advises that you should also buy travel insurance which includes health cover as the GHIC – like the EHIC – does not cover any private medical healthcare such as mountain rescue in ski resorts or being flown back to the UK.

To get a GHIC, you can appy online and your new card usually arrives within 10 days, according to the government website.

What do I need for driving in France?

If you’re taking your own vehicle the new Brexit rules mean that you will need a green card and a GB sticker.  A green card is simply proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad and you can get this from your insurer. There will no doubt be a premium to pay to cover you for driving in France unless it’s already included in your insurance.

The insurer will either post you out a green card or you can potentially download a green card to print yourself. You must show your green card if you’re involved in an accident and you may have to show it if you are stopped by the police.

The big question…do I still get free data roaming for my phone?

Unfortunately, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming in France has ended. You will need to check with your phone operator to see what their charges would be.

A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing.

Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.

Can I bring my English sausage and beans into France for my holiday?

This hasn’t changed actually – you are still not able to take meat, milk or products containing them into EU countries. There are some exceptions, for example certain amounts of powdered infant milk, infant food, or pet food required for medical reasons.

So sausages – no, beans yes.

All the rules about taking food and drink into the EU on the European Commission website, the summary of which is here:

“Travellers are not allowed to bring in meat, milk or their products, unless they are coming with less than 10 kilograms of these products from the Faeroe Islands or Greenland

There is also an exemption for powdered infant milk, infant food, and special foods or special pet feed required for medical reasons, if weighing less than 2 kilograms and provided that:

  • such products do not require refrigeration before opening
  • that they are packaged proprietary brand products for direct sale to the final consumer, and
  • the packaging is unbroken unless in current use.

Note for dog owners – be aware how this affects dog food. If your dog is fussy about his food, ensure that any food you take with you is in a new bag that has not been opened – just to be on the safe side!

Can I go on holiday to France at the moment? (January 2021)

At the moment, no. Because of Covid, travellers from most non-EU countries can’t visit except for essential reasons. After 31 December, the UK will no longer be treated like a member of the EU, so becomes subject to these rules.

The EU could choose to exempt the UK, and individual EU countries could create a “travel corridor” with the UK, allowing restriction-free travel.

Useful links