Sarah Wakely

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Britain is leaving the EU – but what does this mean for our motorhomes and European touring? Sarah Wakely attempts to sift the fact from the fiction

Whichever way the UK's recent European Union referendum vote had gone, it was almost certain that changes to our EU membership would have been enacted in some form. However, with the referendum over and the leave vote prevailing, the effect on our future motorhome holidays is likely to be far more widespread.

So, what's going to happen? The quick answer is that we don't know for sure. Political matters have been moving fast of late and it has been hard to keep up! One thing is for certain, though: an exit from the EU will have an effect on European travel as we know it.

Here’s a round-up of what you need to know, right now. But please do bear in mind that no one is yet sure about exactly what will happen!


Of course, it is stating the obvious, but every day, exchange rates affect many aspects of our lives, whether we're at home or we're touring. Sterling has taken a hit since the Brexit vote, although the strength of the Euro has also suffered in reaction to the uncertainty. Further wobbles are inevitable as the finer points of the UK's exit from the EU are thrashed out and it is impossible to ascertain right now what the long-term implications will be and where we'll stand in a few years.

Buying a new ’van is a not insignificant purchase and if you're looking at motorhomes for sale, with many major and much-loved manufacturers being European including HymerAdria, Volkswagen, Chausson, Benimar and Knaus, not to mention the Italian Fiat Ducato and French Peugeot Boxer base vehicles that are used across the UK and Europe, we'll be keeping an eye prices in the coming weeks and months. 

Planning your next tour? If you want to protect your cash against further exchange rate fluctuations, you can purchase a prepaid card that locks in the rate on the day that you bought it. has a particularly good guide to these cards.

EHIC cards

The EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is a crucial piece of credit-card-sized plastic that currently gives you access to free or discounted medical care across the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA), and in Switzerland. It is probable that this agreement will change upon the UK’s exit from the EU, but at the present time – and for at least the next two years – your EHIC cards will remain valid.

Make sure that your EHIC card has not expired; if it has, or if you need to apply, go online. EHIC cards are free, so don't use a website that wants to charge you.

Also, remember that the EHIC is not a replacement for travel insurance. It is still important to take out a travel insurance policy that will cover you abroad, whether you are touring in the EU or elsewhere.

Mobile roaming

This is one of the areas most likely to be affected by Britain's vote to leave the EU. In June 2017, the EU is set to ban roaming charges within its borders, effectively meaning much cheaper mobile phone calls when you’re touring abroad.

Since the result of the UK's EU referendum vote it is now impossible to say whether we will benefit from this. Having said that, the British government has the power to crack down on the roaming charges of mobile providers in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, to stay in line with the EU.

Alcohol duty

France’s low taxation on alcohol is something many of us take advantage of when travelling over the Channel, stocking up on cases of wine and spirits before returning home. Current rules state that 110 litres of beer plus 90 litres of wine can be brought back (for your own consumption) without penalty. Will this remain the same? This could be reduced dramatically upon Britain's exit from the EU, particularly if the UK leaves the single market.

Those arriving from outside the EU are currently limited to four litres of wine, 16 litres of beer and one litre of spirits. In turn, however, it does mean that we may be able to benefit from duty-free shopping within the EU, being allowed to claim back VAT on purchases made. For the time being, however, nothing has changed.


The current purple UK passport is branded as a ‘European Union’ passport, but in reality this means little – it is first and foremost a British document.

You should be able to continue to use it for at least the next two years. In fact, it has been suggested that, rather than replacing all EU passports, they will simply be updated when your current one expires, which seems like a sensible approach. Maybe the UK will revert to its dark blue passports of old?

Driving licences

As with your passport, your driving licence also carries EU branding. It can continue to be used for at least the next two years and (as with our passports) is likely to be replaced when it expires, rather than before this date.


It has been suggested that UK nationals will soon require a visa to enter the EU, but this is highly unlikely – there are numerous countries outside the European Economic Area in which Britons need no visa to visit for up to 90 days, and it’s likely that a reciprocal agreement would come into force in our case, so you probably won't need to worry about this additional bit of paperwork for most holidays in your ’van.

However, it is possible that greater restrictions will be placed on Britons wishing to live and work in the EU if the UK leaves the single market, and this may affect your plans if you hope to full-time.

Additional border controls could mean a longer wait at customs, too.

Motorhome hire

Many of the above points apply when considering the issue of motorhome hire in a post-Brexit EU. As ever when planning a tour, be mindful of how changing exchange rates can hit the cost of your trip and make sure that your travel insurance covers you wherever you're going.

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