Schengen Travel Rules - post brexit

Brexit is done and dusted – and whether you voted to remain or leave no longer matters – the deed is done and the UK (Great Britain and Northern Ireland) are now no longer part of the EU – and no longer part of the Schengen either. So we now have to abide by a set of new Schengen travel rules.

Lets just clear up the difference between the the EU and Schengen – people often use the words interchangeably:

The EU (European Union) consists of 27 countries in Europe. It is an economical and political union with a set of rules and regulations that all member countries follow. 

The Schengen Area   also consists of 27 countries. These are NOT the same 27 countries that are in the EU. This is a free movement travel zone where members follow the same Visa policy. 

how does this affect travel in europe?

The UK now have to follow the same Schengen travel rules as another 3rd party country. It can only stay within the Schengen Zone for 90 days in any rolling 180 days.

So everyone that is used to travelling around countries like Spain for 6 months in the UK winter, is now unable to do that. You are not allowed to spend 90 days in Spain and another 90 in Portugal for example. 

This 90 day Schengen travel rule involves the WHOLE of the Schengen Zone – and all the countries that participate in it – like Iceland and Switzerland for example. These countries are not part of the EU but are part of the Schengen zone. 

Similarly – Bulgaria, Cyprus and Southern Ireland – are part of the EU, but not part of the Schengen zone. It gets very complicated! 

Luckily there are  a number of ways to keep track of this – some ways are easier than others.You can try this online calculator or download an app onto your phone. We use one called Schengen Calculator 90/180 and also Schengen Simple – the latter was a paid one, but the interface is much better and more useful to show officials that you are tracking your movement and following the Schengen travel rules set by the EU. Both of these mobile phone apps are Apple iPhone apps. I couldn’t find these particular ones on the Google App search, but there are plenty on there for you to download.

what are my passport and visa changes?

From 2025 (the current prediction) you will need to have an ETIAS (European Travel and Information and Authorisation System). You will need to register along side having a valid passport for travel. It is valid for 3 years or until your passport expires – whichever comes first at the the cost of approx. 7 euros. 

Your passport must have 6 months of valid travel on it. There is a change in this – as the date is calculated from Date of Issue and NOT Date of Expiry

So if your passport was issued on 01/01/2015 then the 6 months will be from 31/12/2025. Some passports have an expiry date which would show 01/05/2025 – DO NOT USE THIS DATE! 

Until the ETIAS is introduced you do not need a visa to travel within the Schengen. 

Don’t overstay your welcome – you will be treated like any other 3rd party country and could face a ban which would prevent you travelling in a Schengen country for 10 years. To be clear – any of the 27 countries within the Schengen. That would include any transfer routes to more exotic places as well! 

how do i travel for a year or more?

Planning! That is what you have to do now if you want to travel for more than 90 days.

This is where you start needing to understand about the Schengen Shuffle – have you heard of that latest dance craze?! 

A couple of things that you need to be mindful of here – lots of the places that you will need to use to do the shuffle, will also have a 90 day visa. So for one day you will be both in the Schengen and in the Non Schengen country, which relates to the Schengen travel rules.

In order to leave that clear 90 days, it would mean over staying in the non Schengen country. The simplest way to do this is not to push it to the edge. Always leave Schengen days spare to ensure that you don’t break the Schengen travel rules and pick up a penalty.

why you should leave days spare....

Our own example of leaving Schengen days spare is from our Austrian experience.  Our brakes caught on fire in Austria coming over one of the passes. We spent 3 weeks waiting for a part. It was in August and we were on the way to a family wedding in the UK and the RAC could not get us back to the UK for up to 3 months (rubbish service!). So we had to wait it out in a carpark. It certainly tested us. 

Not only did we miss the wedding, there was no where to walk (yes, in Austria) so no hiking to be done or ad-hoc holiday to enjoy. It also rained for almost the entire 3 weeks and we had a pretty miserable time.

Luckily we had plenty of time left from our 90 days in the Schengen so we were OK. If we had been cutting it to the bone – we would have had to have left Freddy – with all our gear in it – and fly home. Don’t forget – we live in our van – our van is our home. 

Van with brakes on fire
Angie and Damo with brake down
Austria van on tow

what might 12 months now look like?

Oct & Nov – France and Spain. (In Schengen)

Dec & Jan & Feb – Morocco  (Out of Schengen)

Mar – Ferry to South of France (In Schengen)

Apr & May – Italy (In Schengen)

Jun & July – Ferry to Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia (Out of Schengen)

Aug – Slovenia (In Schengen)

Sept – Germany into Netherlands (In Schengen)

October – UK

You will have to calculate this accurately on a Schengen calculator and ensure that you leave some spare days for any mishaps, for driving between destinations and for the days that are double counted in both countries.

Can i stay in andorra?

Technically, yes you can – but only if you can get your passport stamped to say that you have entered. You would absolutely have to prove that you were not in the Schengen. The responsibility is on you to prove – not the border control.

You can ask the French or Spanish border control to stamp you out of the Schengen – but remember to get them to stamp you in again when you leave or you will run into issues. 

You might want to spend the ski season in Andorra. That would be fun. You might also just want to stay for a month to do some hiking, so getting that stamp will just stop the Schengen clock for you. 

What about monaco?

This one is easy. No, you can not take your motorhome into Monaco. The law prohibits you from driving a motorhome into Monaco.

Lastly - the vatican and San Marino?

No, you can’t use these ones either! The Vatican is part of Italy and by association it abides by the Schengen visa rules.  

In the same way, San Marino, a micro state near Rimini in the north east of Italy, is by association a member of the Schengen zone and can not be used as part of your 90 days out. 

Both of these small principalities are land-locked with no border control so you can’t use them as part of your 90 days out. Anyway – a motorhome in the Vatican?! 

Motorhome UK Stickers

When you are driving in the EU post Brexit – you now need to have UK stickers to put on your numberplate to cover up what used to be the EU flag with the GB initials. Spain, Cyprus or Malta require you to have a separate UK sticker on the back of the motorhome (in addition to the one on the number plates). 

medical insurance and ghic

The EHIC card you have is still valid if it is in date – but if not, you can get a GHIC card (Global Health Insurance Card), which will cover basic emergency medical care in the EU.

We would recommend that you get a full travel insurance policy to cover you – just in case. Medical expenses anywhere when you have to pay for them can run into thousands. 

Motorhome Insurance - green cards

You no longer need to carry a green card with you when you are travelling in the EU (UK Gov – Driving Abroad). This used to be a requirement, but is not necessary anymore – regardless of what you may read! 

UNLESS….. you are driving in Morocco, Albania, Turkey and Modova. I have only listed the countries that are more commonly driven in as part of the Schengen Shuffle. 

You should check out each individual country (outside of the EU/Schengen) for full information.

Thinking about what Brexit has done for van-lifers and motorhome owners with travelling abroad. Yes, it has definitely made things more complicated with regards to where we can travel for how long, with more regulations and rules in place.

BUT –  It has also pushed many people to explore countries that are possibly outside their comfort zone. To go further afield, get more creative and really appreciate different cultures.  Don’t let the Schengen Shuffle put you off – embrace the changes and explore the world! 

We hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful. We have tried to cover everything you need to know but if we have missed something – please do let us know. 

Angie and Damo Signatures
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