Gap Years and Brexit – What You Need To Know

Whatever your views on Brexit may be, the fact is that the way we travel is going to change. From January 1st 2021 we’re going to have to consider far more than just where to go and what to pack if we want to go travelling around Europe, or plan a European gap year.

A group of young friends waiting relaxed and carefree at the station in Porto, Portugal before catching a train. Travel photography. Lifestyle.

The number one thing that might catch travellers out is passport expiry dates. While your passport may say that it is valid until June 2021, in reality you may be denied entry to Europe with a passport of this date. That’s because, on the day you travel, you need your passport to have at least six months left until it’s expiry date, and for it to be less than ten years old.

So number one, check your passport dates.

Number two, get your visas.

If you’re only planning a shorter trip, or multiple shorter trips, then this may not be necessary. You can stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa. Having said that, if you’re planning a gap year or gap six months, you may need to get your visas in order.

Next, if the type of travel you want to do is a European road trip, you may need to get extra documents. From January 1st if you want to drive in some countries you might need an international driving permit. More than that, if you’re doing the journey in your own vehicle as opposed to a European rented vehicle, you may also need a “green card” or valid proof of insurance and a GB sticker.

At the moment it’s not known if an international driving permit is something UK drivers will need in the EU. Currently the USA, Brazil and Japan are some countries that already require one. On the positive side, they’re easy to get hold of from the Post Office, and the application fee is low at just £5.50.

Finally, if you’re hoping to fund your travels by working while you travel, this may not be an option after Brexit. There are no clear guidelines yet about what will happen with long-term or short-term work (e.g. bar work or being a ski chalet host).

If no deal is reached by January 1st 2021, then people will need to fulfil the specific conditions laid down by EU law and the law of the particular EU country in order to work. Work permits and visas will almost certainly be required and countries may put caps on the number of people who will be accepted.

Take away message: you can still travel in Europe after Brexit, but maybe not for a whole gap year, and you’ll need to save money before you travel and double-check your paperwork.