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Travellers face flight and coach disruption if there's a no-deal Brexit

Passengers could face travel disruption on flights and coach journeys in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Government today published the latest updates to its plan for if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. It sets out its plans in the "unlikely event" there is no deal in place between the UK and the EU's other member states when we exit the union on 29 March 2019.

The papers set out some of the possible impacts on consumers, including: 

Last week, the Government published the first wave of its papers titled How to prepare if the UK leaves the EU with no deal including how EU roaming and passport rules will be affected

Flights could be disrupted

Currently EU airlines are able to operate in the UK, and UK airlines operate in the EU.

In the event of no deal. If the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 with no agreement in place, UK and EU licensed airlines would lose the automatic right to operate air services between the UK and the EU without seeking advance permission.

EU-licensed airlines would also lose the ability to operate wholly within the UK (eg, from Heathrow to Edinburgh), and UK-licensed airlines would lose the ability to operate wholly within the EU (eg, from Milan to Paris).

Airlines would have to seek permissions from the respective states (be that the UK or an EU country). In this scenario, the Government says it would plan to grant permission to EU airlines to continue to operate and would expect EU countries to do this back in return.

Its paper says: "It would not be in the interest of any EU country or the UK to restrict the choice of destinations that could be served, though if such permissions are not granted, there could be disruption to some flights."

The European Commission has previously acknowledged that a 'bare bones' agreement on air services would be desirable in the event of the UK leaving with no deal.

If you swap planes in the EU you may have to go through security again 

Currently, passengers flying from the UK and transferring at an EU airport for an onward flight do not have to be rescreened at that EU airport, and the Government says this is because the UK applies, and exceeds, minimum EU standards.

In the event of no deal. After 29 March, passengers could face upheaval if the EU decides not to recognise the UK aviation security system.

The European Commission has already indicated it will not recognise the UK aviation security system, so this is highly probable.

In this scenario, passengers and their luggage will have to be rescreened when changing flights in EU airports.

You may need a 'green card' to drive abroad

At the moment the EU motor insurance directives ensure motorists can drive in the EU without additional checks and documentation, such as a green card. 

A green card is an international certificate of insurance issued by UK insurers to say that the necessary third party cover is in place for the country being travelled to. 

The directives mean the systematic checks of green cards as proof of third party motor insurance were abolished at the border of European Economic Area (EEA) member states and also Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland. 

In the event of no deal. After 29 March 2019, access to the green card-free area would cease. This means that a green card will be needed as proof that the car and driver(s) have the minimum level of cover – third party motor insurance – when driving in the EEA, Andorra, Serbia and Switzerland.

The validity of UK green cards in these countries is subject to agreements that need to be reached between the UK's Motor Insurers' Bureau and the relevant National Insurers' Bureaux.

You would have to ask your insurer for a green card, and although the card itself is free it may charge an admin fee. 

If you don't have a green card to prove you have third party motor insurance cover, you may not be able to drive in that country. You may also be fined according to the law of that country.

Flight delay compensation for UK departures will be unaffected

At the moment, if you're on a flight to or from an EU country which is delayed by more than three hours, or your flight is cancelled altogether, under EU rule 261/2004 you are often entitled to between £110 and £540 in compensation. Full details on this can be found in our flight delays guide.

In the event of no deal or a deal. The Government says that for flights departing the UK, the same passenger rights as apply today will continue. EU passenger rights legislation will be retained in UK law.

We have asked the Department for Transport for further information, including if there are any changes regarding flights entering the UK.

Coach journeys could be disrupted

Currently, UK coach services often operate between the UK and the EU, for example, via the Channel Tunnel.

Companies are allowed to provide these services if they have a standard international operator's licence and a community licence. 

The UK also participates in the Interbus Agreement, because the EU as a whole is a member. This agreement allows bus and coach operators to carry out "occasional services", such as school trips and holidays between the participating countries.

In the event of no deal. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, EU countries may choose to recognise UK-issued operator licences and not require further authorisations – but this cannot be guaranteed.

The Government is planning on joining the Interbus Agreement as an independent member, which would mean school trips and holiday routes could run. 

But the Government hasn't guaranteed that this arrangement will be in place by 29 March 2019, or that it would be extended to include regular services to the EU, so it's possible coach services between the UK and the EU may be disrupted.

You may need to plan four months ahead to take your pet abroad

Under the EU Pet Travel Scheme, owners of cats, dogs and ferrets can travel with their animals to and from EU countries provided they hold a valid EU pet passport.

Before a pet can travel from the UK to an EU country for the first time, it must be taken to an official veterinarian (OV) at least 21 days before travel. The OV will ensure the animal has a microchip and rabies vaccination, before issuing an EU pet passport, which remains valid for travel for the pet's lifetime or until all of the treatment spaces are filled.

If we leave with no deal. After 29 March, it depends on how the UK is listed by the EU for the purposes of the EU Pet Travel Scheme.

In the worst case scenario, pet owners intending to travel with their pet from the UK to EU countries would need to discuss preparations for their pet's travel with an OV at least four months in advance of the date they wish to travel.

This means pet owners intending to travel to the EU on 30 March 2019 – the day we leave the EU – would need to discuss requirements with their vet before the end of November 2018. 

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