09/12/2020- GBR

Competing & Training Abroad – Preparing for January 2021

Rules on travelling to and from European Union countries will change on 1 January 2021.

Travel to the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein will change from 1 January 2021. For up to date government information and guidance can be found here.

Before you go you should check:

  • your passport is valid
  • you have travel insurance that includes healthcare, valid for the activity you are participating in
  • you have the appropriate visa
  • your length of stay in the EU does not exceed the maximum in any 180 day period
  • you are prepared for additional border control checks
  • you understand the new mobile roaming charges
  • you have the required new documents for driving


More Information

Passport – Your current passport will be valid as long as it is less than 10 years old and has six months left before it runs out. The six months rule does not affect travel to Ireland. You can check here whether your passport is valid for the country you’re visiting.

Travel insurance – This now needs to covers your healthcare. Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will not be valid from 1st January 2021 so you must ensure that you get travel insurance with the right cover, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. You can read more advice on buying travel insurance with the right cover. It will be part of BF’s terms and conditions of entering any athlete for an EFC or FIE competition that athletes have appropriate cover in place, but the responsibility for checking that policy is valid lies with the individual. Please note that some standard holiday insurance policies have exclusions for certain sports, competitions, ‘full time’ athletes (whether they earn money or not) and officials (paid or volunteer). Our advice is to read the small print and speak to the insurance provider if in doubt.

Visas – You will not need one for most short trips to most EU countries if you’re a tourist. The majority of ad-hoc fencing activities (such as competitions or training camps) for a participant fencer is, as far as we can tell, covered by a tourist visa.  You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.

You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.

Check each country’s travel advice page for information on how to get a visa or permit.

Travel to Ireland will not change from 1 January 2021. You’ll also be able to work in Ireland in the same way as before.

Border control: you may have to show your return ticket and money
At border control, you may need to show a return or onward ticket and
show you have enough money for your stay. You may need to use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queueing

Free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end. Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021. A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing. Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.

Driving. you might need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some countries. If you’re taking your own vehicle, you will also need a ‘green card’ and a GB sticker.

There are more things to do if you’re travelling for business. For example, going to meetings and conferences, providing services (even with a charity). This might include people planning to deliver paid coaching/referee services.


Please note that it is the responsibility of the individual (or their legal guardian) to make sure that the appropriate and necessary insurance and documentation is in place.  Whilst BF may select/enter athletes/officials to participate in EFC and FIE competitions, we do not arrange visa’s, passports or insurance (nor are we liable for the cost).




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