How Would a No Deal Brexit Affect British Nationals Abroad?

By Ned Kelly, October 14, 2019

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With the Brexit deadline of Halloween looming, Boris 'No Deal' Johnson installed in 10 Downing Street and Nigel Farage's Brexit Party on the up and up, a no deal Brexit is still a distinct possibilty. 

We spoke with the UK government in China in the hope of making British people aware of the possible consequences for them. The main thing they emphasized was that your rights and status when traveling to an EU country could change.


  • Your passport may not be valid for entry to EU countries.

  • If your adult passport was issued over nine years ago, you may be affected. You should use this tool to check your passport is still valid for your trip before booking travel.

  • Adult and child passports should have at least six months remaining from your date of travel. If you renewed your passport early, extra months would have been added to your new passport. These extra months will not count towards this, so some passport holders will need to have more than six months remaining in order to travel.

  • The European Commission has confirmed that British travelers will need to have their passports stamped when they enter and leave the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Whilst as visitors they would have visa-free access, British travelers would lose access to the EU lane at border crossings after no-deal and may be asked by border guards to provide information on the purpose of their visit and means of subsistence during their stay. It is also likely that  luggage would be subject to customs checks, but there would be the return of duty-free and right of British travelers to claim refund of VAT paid on goods during their stay in the EU.

  • For more information on the types of action you may need to take ahead of traveling in the event of a ‘no deal’ EU Exit, you may check the UK government 'Travel Advice,' or open 'UK Nationals Traveling to the EU: Essential Information.'

  • The UK government will publish country-specific information on their travel advice to help you prepare for travel after the EU Exit. You can also receive their latest updates by signing up for alerts on each country page.

Other Potential Changes for British Nationals in the EU

  • Health care coverage will change.

  • The need for an international driving license if hiring or driving a vehicle.

  • Increase cost of using a mobile phone.

  • Changes to traveling with pets.

  • Other issues such as use of bank cards, insurance cover may also be affected.

Relevant Information

• Important EU Exit information for UK nationals if there’s no deal

• UK residents visiting the EU/EEA and Switzerland: Healthcare

• UK nationals living in the EU/EEA and Switzerland: Healthcare

• NHS: Healthcare when travelling abroad

• Settled and pre-settled status for EU citizens and their families

Some Useful Links

Foreign Office Travel Advice

The latest information on visiting and living in over 225 countries (including China!). Includes advice on entry requirements, local laws and customs and much more. Create a subscription to get email alerts when advice changes. During a crisis, such as a natural disaster, these pages are updated first. Click here for more.

UK government guide to living in China

Includes a range of advice, from accessing healthcare and finding English speaking lawyers, to how to vote while abroad. Click here for more.

Sign up to the UK Consular WeChat Channel

This UK Consular channel keeps you up to date with their latest news and current trends in China which may affect British people.



[Cover image via Wiki Commons]

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