UK travellers could be banned from visiting EU countries next year because of coronavirus restrictions
UK holidaymakers could be banned from visiting EU countries next year as Brits may fall under non-EU travel restrictions - in place to help stop the spread of coronavirus - when the Brexit process is finalised.
Due to the pandemic, EU countries, as well as Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, have put a ban on most non-EU residents visiting unless there is a strong case to allow them in, for example it's imperative for family reasons or if they're a healthcare professional. Another exception is for those travelling from countries with low coronavirus cases, such as Australia and New Zealand. A full list of valid exemptions can be found on the EU website.
But it's feared UK travellers could be banned because of its high number of coronavirus cases - and whether or not a Brexit trade deal is agreed is unlikely to affect this. The UK left the EU earlier this year and a post-exit 'transition period' ends on 31 December, which means its alignment with EU rules will cease on 1 January 2021.
The Council of the European Union will decide whether to have an exemption for Brits by the end of the year and will review the situation regularly after this, but individual countries are allowed to set their own rules as well - which means they could decide to allow Brits in - so this is still very much up in the air. See our Brexit need-to-knows to prepare yourself for the end of the transition period.
What if I've already booked travel to the EU next year?
If you've already booked travel to the EU next year, it's unclear at this stage if it will go ahead. As above, we need to first wait for the Council of the European Union's decision, and then whether individual countries will set their own rules for UK travellers. It could also be that pandemic travel restrictions are revised or relaxed before 1 January.
Because of this uncertainty it's not worth cancelling a future booking yet as you're unlikely to get your money back, unless you have free cancellation. Generally, full refunds are only given when it's the holiday provider itself that cancels trips - which may well happen later down the line if it can't operate services as planned.
Your travel insurance policy may cover you, but many policies focus on whether the UK Government issues advice against travel, so they may not pay out if it's a foreign country that puts the restrictions in place.
If you're still struggling to get a refund it's worth trying to claim under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act if you paid more than £100 on credit card or under chargeback if you paid less than £100 on credit card or you used a debit card, though it's unclear how successful this will be.
See our Coronavirus Travel Refunds guide for full help.
What does the UK Government say?
A Government spokesperson said: "We cannot comment on decisions that could be taken by other states on Public Health matters.
“We take a scientific, risk-based approach to health measures at the border, and it is of course in the interests of all countries to allow safe international travel as we emerge from the pandemic.”