No-deal Brexit: Portugal makes special arrangements for UK tourists

Passport rules for UK travellers and their pets will be eased

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 23 January 2019 13:55 GMT
No-deal Brexit would mean flight numbers capped at 2018 levels

Amid the deepening uncertainty about Brexit, Portugal has seized the initiative to entice British travellers after the UK leaves the European Union.

Turismo de Portugal’s London office has announced: “Following the uncertainty and the threat of a no-deal Brexit, the Portuguese government has prepared a contingency plan to avoid, as far as possible, disruption for British travellers to our country.”

After the UK leaves the EU, British passport holders will be “third-country nationals” and will not be entitled to use the fast-track queues for European Union and EEA citizens.

But the Portuguese authorities say they will set up dedicated passport control lanes for flights arriving from the UK.

European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs) held by British travellers will cease to be valid after 29 March, and there is no clarity about reciprocal health-care agreements after Brexit. But UK visitors will still qualify for emergency medical treatment through the Portuguese health service regardless.

The announcement also promises “simplified requirements for UK nationals’ pets”.

It mentions the “possibility” that British driving licences may be recognised in Portugal. The Independent is seeking clarification on this issue.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK motorists are being advised to obtain one or more International Driving Permits (IDPs). If Portugal abolished the requirement unilaterally, it would benefit British travellers renting cars in the country. But anyone planning to drive to Portugal would need a 1949 version IDP for Spain, and possibly a 1968 version if they intend to drive through France.

The move may trigger similar assurances from other countries that are heavily dependent on UK tourism.

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