Despite fears that the country would walk away from the Bloc with no deal on December 31 of this year, a trade deal is now in place, as announced by Ursula von der Leyen and Michel Barnier
But while that means we may have avoided the disruption of a no-deal departure, people can still expect many changes as of January 1 2021 – among them travel to EU countries and the arrival of blue passports replacing the burgundy ones.
Just what will happen to those passports now – and when will the new British ones be necessary?
Will I need a new passport after Brexit?
If your passport is less than 10 years old and has more than six months left to run, you can continue to use it in EU countries – as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland – after December 31 2020.
The exception to this rule is Ireland, where you can continue to use your passport regardless of when it is valid until.
One change that has been phased in throughout 2020 will be the introduction of the blue passports – which is actually a throwback to one of the earliest versions of the British passport.
Blue passports will eventually replace the burgundy one we use currently, returning to the colour passports used to be from 1921 to 1988, when the UK followed the practices of the European Economic Community.
When will the UK blue passport be issued?
According to the Home Office, the new blue British passport started being issued from the beginning of 2020, and will be introduced steadily throughout the year.
If you renew your passport during early 2020, you may be given either a blue or a burgundy British passport but all styles of passport will be equally valid.
All passports issued from mid-2020 will be blue.
Will we need a visa for Europe after Brexit?
After December 2020, Brits can still travel to European counties without a visa for holidays.
According to GOV.UK, if you’re a tourist, you won’t need a visa for short trips to EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any rolling 180-day period, however this will apply to all the trips you make within that time – so for example a long weekend away in an EU country and a fortnight’s break in another one within the time frame would all add up to the 90-day total.
The exception to this rule is if you travel to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus or Romania – the number of days you spend in these countries will not count towards that total
If you’re planning to stay for longer, to work or study in an EU country, or if your visit is for business purposes, you may need to apply for a work permit or visa.
You should check the individual travel page of the country you plan to visit – available at the Foreign Office website – to see what documentation you will need.
From January 1 2021, British passports will also need at least six months left on them to travel throughout Europe, and your passport will need to be less than 10 years old.
You’ll also face different rules at border control in any European country.
You’ll need to:
* Show a return or onward ticket
* Show you have enough money for your stay – this could depend on where you’re going and how long you’re going for
* Use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing
If you’re hiring a car in Europe from 1 January 2021 you might need an additional international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries and if you’re driving your own car you might also need an insurance ‘green card’ and a GB sticker.