With the United Kingdom’s recent vote to leave the European Union (EU)*, commonly referred to as 'Brexit', questions are being asked as to how this decision will affect Australian travellers. The truth is, at this stage, most of these questions remain unanswered, however it appears that there will be little change for travellers from Commonwealth countries.
Whilst the EU is currently made up of 28 countries (including the UK), the UK makes up just over 17% of the EU economy. With almost one fifth of the economy gone, it will be interesting to see what affect this has on the European Union as a whole. Experts have noted that the UK’s official separation from the EU could take up to two years and until such time the UK remains a part of the EU.
It will also be interesting to see whether Scotland and Northern Ireland proceed with their plans to hold their own referendums in light of the recent UK decision. Both countries, which form part of the United Kingdom along with England and Wales, voted strongly in favour of remaining in the EU and have mooted plans to hold independence referendums which could see them separating from the UK in order to be part of the European Union.
I’ll update this article as further information comes to hand, but in the meantime, Aussie travellers might like to keep the following in mind.
In the short term the value of the British Pound (Sterling) has dropped meaning that the Australian Dollar buys more. If you are planning on travelling to the UK in the coming months, now may be a good time to buy your currency or load it onto your travel money card. Better value for the Aussie dollar means cheaper UK holidays.
Currently Australian travellers (and EU citizens and many other nationalities) have free movement between the UK and EU countries. The UK’s decision to leave the EU is likely to mean that there will be tighter border controls and travellers will have their passports stamped on entering and leaving the UK and then again in the EU. This could result in longer queues at airports, ferry ports and international railway stations.
At present, if you travel from the UK to the EU or vice versa, you may not have your passport stamped at all. (This can depend on the mode of transport - for instance my passport was stamped when I departed the UK on the Eurostar but not on arrival in Paris.)
When the UK is no longer part of the EU, the country will be ruled by UK law as opposed to EU law. This, hopefully, won’t affect you as a traveller but it means that court rulings in the UK won’t be able to be appealed in the EU courts.
*Note: The United Kingdom held a referendum on Thursday, 27 June, 2016. The resulting votes tallied 51.9% in favour of leaving the European Union and 48.1% in favour of remaining in the EU.
As I mentioned above, it seems, at least at this early stage, that there will be few changes that affect Australians travelling to the United Kingdom and the European Union as a result of the 'Brexit' decision. I'll update this article with relevant information when it comes to hand.