Beware of impending Brexit changes Jan. 1

Beware of impending Brexit changes Jan. 1

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

On Jan. 1, 2020, the United Kingdom officially left the European Union in the process known as Brexit. For the past 11 months, the two opposing factions have been methodically hashing out different agreements to ensure autonomy and what they hope to be little disruption to citizens. However, there are some significant changes coming into effect on Jan. 1, 2021 that you need to be aware of.


When we get the all-clear to travel again, the U.K. government is advising visitors to plan their trips well in advance. As of writing this, the EU and U.K. still have not reached an agreement on trade. Because of this, customs inspections on either side of the border will take considerably longer. Meaning that if you plan on driving, you may be sitting in long lines waiting to cross the channel. If you’re coming from the U.K., you will need to ensure you have a “GB” sticker affixed to the back of your vehicle, even if you have the GB sticker with the EU symbol on your number plate. It’s also highly recommended to have a valid International Driving Permit when driving across the border.

Current members stationed in the U.K. traveling into the EU may notice immigration lines taking more time. British residents coming from the U.K. will be joining the “All Others” passport lines, as they will no longer be able to use the EU lanes for processing. When traveling, be sure to carry a copy of your orders along with your passport and DOD-issued ID in case any issues arise.



Traveling with pets

If traveling throughout Europe with Fifi and Fido wasn’t confusing enough before, Brexit changes will likely cause even more confusion. Different rules apply depending on where you’re starting from. Coming from the EU to the U.K., many of the rules will remain the same. Your pet must be microchipped, up to date on all vaccines (particularly rabies) and dogs must have a tapeworm treatment no less than 24 hours or more than five days before entering the U.K. EU-issued pet passports will still be accepted.

Going from the U.K. to the EU will present more challenges. Effective Jan. 1, 2021, U.K.-issued pet passports will no longer be valid. Instead, you will need to visit a designated official vet to obtain an Animal Health Certificate (AHC). This certificate is good for 10 days after it’s issued for entry to the EU. It’s also valid for a single-entry trip and re-entry to the U.K. up to four months after issuance. You may have up to five pets listed on an AHC, and you will need a new certificate each time you travel with them to the EU. For official guidance, visit

Living in the U.K.

While active-duty service members, DOD civilians and dependents are subject to the Status of Forces of Agreement between the U.S. and the U.K., it has yet to be seen what the larger implications of Brexit will have on daily life. Due to an increase of inspections at the border, the supply chain arriving on island will likely be delayed, which may impact stock levels at base exchanges, commissaries and other vendors. Mail arriving in theater may also experience delays. The price of goods in stores off-base are also projected to increase due to a possible change in tariffs between the U.K. and EU.

Although there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the most current Brexit negotiations, with proper planning and research, you’ll be armed with the right knowledge to navigate your way through the murky waters.

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