The Latest Brexit Negotiations and What it Could Mean for Travel

London Tower Bridge
Photo by Getty Images / Moussa81

With Brexit negotiations underway between the European Union (EU) and the United Kingdom (UK), the UK government has issued a series of notices on potential disruptions for citizens traveling into and from the EU by road and air if an exit deal is not struck between the two sides.

Although the UK government still claims it is confident a deal will be made, The Guardian reports that the EU is “intensifying” its preparations for a no-deal Brexit due to heightened fears that the UK’s Labour Party will vote to strike down any agreement made between the EU and the UK.

According to CNN, the Labour Party outlined six tests upon which it planned to assess any final Brexit deal, including the provision of a "strong and collaborative" future relationship with the EU, the delivery of the "exact same benefits" provided by the UK's current membership of the single market and customs union, and the "fair management of migration" in the interests of the British economy.

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"If the Prime Minister returns with a deal that does not meet our tests, and that looks increasingly likely, we will vote against her deal," said Keir Starmer, Labour’s Brexit spokesman. "A vague or blind Brexit is a leap to nowhere, and we will have no part in it."

Not only that, but British Prime Minister Theresa May said negotiations have reached an "impasse", according to the Wall Street Journal.

If a deal is not agreed upon before the UK’s planned exit in March 2019, it could have a major impact on the travel industry. 


According to Buying Business Travel, a no-deal Brexit could mean that airlines that operate flights between the UK and EU would lose the automatic right to continue those services. The government, as part of its no-deal Brexit notices, warned that carriers would have to seek individual permission to operate between the UK and EU. While the UK said it would grant permission for EU-registered airlines to continue operations within the country, the EU may decide not to offer a reciprocal agreement.

The UK government also explained that EU-licensed airlines would lose the ability to operate wholly within the UK (for example from Heathrow to Edinburgh) and UK-licensed airlines would lose the ability to operate intra-EU air services (for example from Milan to Paris).

Additionally, there are 17 non-EU countries with which air services to the UK are provided for by virtue of the country’s EU membership, but the UK government said replacement arrangements will be in place before exit day so that those flights could continue. These countries are Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Canada, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Kosovo, Liechtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland and the United States.

In terms of non-EU flights, the UK government said that nothing would change in relation to services between the UK and 111 countries which currently have a bilateral agreement with London, according to ch-aviation. This group of countries includes major destinations like China, Brazil, and India.

Driving in the EU

Not only would a no-deal Brexit effect the aviation industry, it would affect travelers’ ability to drive in the EU. According to the UK government, if there is no deal with the EU, a UK driving license may no longer be valid by itself when driving in the EU. Drivers may need to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the EU. 

According to the UK government, an IDP is a document which, when carried with your driving license, means you would be able to drive outside of the UK, including in EU countries. There are two types of IDP; which one you need depends on which country you are driving in. Each is governed by a separate United Nations convention - one type is governed by the 1949 Geneva Convention on Road Traffic and the other type is governed by the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic.

You may be turned away at the border or face other enforcement action, for example fines, if you don’t have the correct IDP. You may also need an IDP to hire a vehicle when you are abroad.

If you visit and drive in an EU country, for example on holiday, you would need both your UK driving license and the appropriate IDP. Plus, you would need both types of IDP if you are visiting EU countries covered by different conventions, for example France and Spain.

You would need both a driving license and an IDP whether you’re driving in a private or professional capacity.

The UK government said it will be seeking to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with the EU to cover the continued recognition and exchange of UK licenses after exit.

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