Jaillan Yehia

Will Brits Need Visas & Schengen Travel Insurance For Europe After Brexit?

Written by Jaillan Yehia

Post Categories: Opinion

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Things to do in Salisbury

Maybe Brexit won’t actually happen?

Like many frequent travellers, I consider myself a citizen of the world.

I may be a proud UK passport holder, but I also have an Egyptian birth certificate, 3 (now expired) Canadian residency permits, and I spent much of my childhood in Denmark.

Copenhagen is one of my spiritual homes

Given those facts you can probably guess where I stand on the whole Brexit issue: the idea of having to get a visa, or any kind of special permission or health insurance to visit Europe feels utterly bizarre to me.

In fact I feel almost as European as I do British, and I’m lucky to have grown up with UK citizenship that’s allowed me to travel anywhere I want, frequently without a visa at all. Even for the USA, Canada and other non-European countries, I’ve been able to take advantage of a visa waiver system for British and European passport holders. So the idea of having to join the other nations who require visas to travel within Europe just seems outlandish.


I loved living in Canada

As a Brit I’m also lucky to live in a country where NHS healthcare is free, and reciprocal healthcare in Europe has always been a given. I’ve never personally needed special Schengen travel insurance because I have both an EHIC and a good all round travel insurance policy (with plenty of high single item electronics cover!) which together cover me and my possessions really well, even if I’m travelling around Europe for extended periods of time.

But as the realities of Brexit sink in, I am starting to realise just how many of the benefits which have facilitated worry-free travel for me for a lifetime could be taken away in the blink of an eye.

Mainz market

Mainz was a perfect city break for this Brit

When my passport wasn’t recognised at the e-passport gate at Frankfurt airport on my way to Mainz last month I joked with the official that they were practicing for locking us all out post-Brexit.

It wasn’t so funny when I contemplated joining the non-EU passport holders’ immigration line, which was a good 2 hour wait. The startling reality of travel to the Schengen zone post-Brexit finally set in.

Europe Schengen Zone diagram

This venn diagram explains the way Europe and Schengen works

I can’t help but wonder if myself and other Brits will find out first hand how it feels to hold one of the world’s other passports  – one which requires a Schengen visa and possibly even a special insurance policy to travel to Europe, but until we sign a deal we won’t know exactly what to expect.

Tackling Schengen Travel Insurance Confusion -A Canadian Living in The UK, A Brit living in Canada

Saving On Christmas Travel

I know a bit more about Schengen insurance for travellers who break the mould than the average person, because my partner is from Canada and lives with me in the UK. And for almost 4 years I was a Brit living in Canada and travelling frequently to Europe.

As the person who does all the travel planning for both of us, I have always had to make sure I buy travel insurance that suits both of our requirements. Not as easy as it sounds.

In general the big lesson I learned about travel insurance while living outside of Europe myself is that the policy you need depends not just on your nationality, and where you’re travelling to but also on the start and end point of your journey and the length of time you’ve already been away from your home country.
For example my Canadian partner would need Schengen insurance from a company like Europe Assistance (or any company who do specialist Shengen travel insurance policies) if he was coming direct from his home in Canada to meet me in Italy, let’s say to eat our way around Bologna or go skiing in Cortina, and then perhaps continue on to visit my family in Denmark.
However because he’s currently a resident of the UK and lives and travels with me, a British citizen, I can add him to my standard European travel insurance policy designed for British citizens and residents and off we go.
bicycle holiday in Provence

Marseille made a brilliant introduction to Europe for my Canadian partner

Conversely, even though I am British I could never buy a standard travel insurance product aimed at British travellers to Europe for myself while I was based in Canada – because my departure point and my final destination on each trip was always Vancouver, not the UK. All of this underlines that doing your research is key when it comes to travel insurance, because the last thing you ever want is to travel without cover.

I read recently that the e-passport gates in UK airports will be made accessible for people from other countries including Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand and Japan.

Let’s hope Brexit doesn’t mean I have to stay in Britain – even if we do have some great destinations.

For someone like me who regularly pops off for European weekends away accompanied by a Canadian passport holder this will be a huge relief on landing back at Heathrow or Gatwick, so I was overjoyed to see the announcement.

The ironic thing is that by the time this happens it might well be me who’ll need a visa to travel to Europe in the first place. I’ll be watching the developments on how Brexit affects travel to Europe with great interest, and crossing my fingers that common sense will prevail.

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