Millions of Britons whose passports are due to expire next year are invited to apply for a new one now, as part of an intensification of efforts to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period.
Vacationers traveling to popular European destinations as of January 1 will need to have six months validity on their travel documents, which is likely to lead to a rush of renewals at UK passport offices.
It is estimated that some five million British citizens have passports valid for less than a year, which means they should act now to travel in the New Year.
Those who do not renew in time « will not be able to travel to most EU countries » as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
She intervenes as the government launches today (Monday) a new £ 93 million public information campaign « The new start from the UK: let’s go » to help the British prepare for life in outside the EU.
Advertisements will be broadcast on television, radio and online, with key information also relayed by SMS.
One of these changes means that those planning to travel abroad with pets in January will have to act by September to make sure they can travel.
Pet owners will need to prepare their pets for the trip four months before departure, as the existing pet passport regime will no longer apply.
New rules could mean that cats, dogs and ferrets will need to have a blood sample taken by a veterinarian and shipped to an EU-approved blood test laboratory before they can cross borders.
Drivers may also need an international driving license to travel to European countries, as vehicles belonging to the United Kingdom may require a « green card » or valid proof of insurance.
The British are also invited to take out « appropriate travel insurance with health cover » before venturing abroad, as European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) will no longer be valid after December 31.
Visas will not be required for short journeys across the EU, but may need to be arranged for longer stays.
British citizens will be able to stay in European countries for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. Visas or permits may be required to stay longer, travel on business, or work or study.
The British also need to check their cellphone roaming policy, as free coverage may end.
Businesses will also be able to contact a « field force team » for individual telephone assistance to help businesses navigate the new procedure.
And companies planning to export or import to the EU will be asked to ensure that they have registered with the relevant customs authority.
Certain UK-wide guidelines will not apply to trade between Northern Ireland and the EU until the end of negotiations.
The first guidelines for Northern Ireland are expected to be published in the coming weeks.
Cabinet Minister Michael Gove said: « At the end of this year, we will leave the single market and the customs union, regardless of what type of agreement we conclude with the EU. This will bring about significant changes and opportunities for which we must all prepare.
« Although we have already made great strides in preparing for this moment, there are steps that businesses and citizens need to take now to ensure that we are ready to start on the ground as a UK completely independent. «
Meanwhile, Justin King, the former CEO of Sainsbury’s, insisted that a trade deal without a deal would not be a « disaster ».
In an online editorial for the Telegraph, former Remain activist said, « Some business groups have expressed concern that over time, a so-called Brexit without a deal will become more likely.
« While this is true, I don’t think it is the catastrophe that we should all fear. I would consider that a hastily agreed soft Brexit is much more likely to be the worst of both worlds and an outcome that we should avoid.
« The willingness to accept no deal as a possibility is also an excellent negotiating tactic, and an option I therefore expect to keep on the table until an agreement is reached. »