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Ten summer holiday tips for EU travels
Despite the British heatwave, some will still be traveling to other EU countries this summer. Here are ten useful tips for EU travellers.
No more mobile phone bill shocks
Since 15 June 2017, EU holidaymakers travelling within the EU no longer incur roaming fees when making phone calls, texting or surfing online with their mobile phone or device using their home country's SIM card. Known as the roam like at home principle, the minutes of calls, SMS and megabytes of data consumed abroad will either be deduced from the user's package or charged at domestic rate.
Travelling with online subscriptions
Since 1 April 2018, EU travellers can watch all their favourite films, series and sports events, read eBooks, play video games and listen to music services which they have either subscribed to or paid for at home, when travelling within the EU. Previously, access to online content was either blocked or cost subscribers extra when they travelled in the EU.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles EU citizens to receive treatment under the same conditions and cost as those covered by state healthcare provisions in the country being visited. The EHIC is valid across the EU as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Cards are available from the NHS free of charge in advance of travel.
Prescriptions issued by a doctor registered in the EU are valid in all EU countries. In order to make it easier to get prescription medicine dispensed abroad, doctors must include specific information.
Travelling around the world
UK citizens are entitled to seek assistance from any EU member state's consulate or embassy in countries where the UK is not represented, to ask for help if for example they have a serious accident or lose important documents. They are also entitled to assistance and/or evacuation in crisis situations.
Find out where the UK is represented.
EU passenger rights
If things do not go as planned and a flight, international train or coach journey is delayed by several hours, EU rules entitle passengers to appropriate compensation depending on the nature of the delay. This may be meals and refreshments, financial compensation or accommodation if the delay means an overnight stay is necessary. Passengers can check how to claim their rights at airports, ports and bus stations across Europe, or download the application for smartphones (available for Google Android, iPhone and Windows Phone). For details of exactly what is covered and for exceptions see here. If operators fail to address complaints, travellers can take this up with the relevant national enforcement authority – contact points here.
Passengers with reduced mobility also have EU-wide rights, including assistance free of charge. Details and guidance set out here.
Driving in the EU
Driving licences issued in any EU country are valid throughout the EU. In addition, a compulsory third party car insurance policy covers the registered driver throughout the EU in case of an accident where property is damaged or another person is injured. Further details available here.
Traffic rules vary from one member state to another. The free European Road Safety App contains all important traffic rules applicable in the 28 EU member states, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (available for Google Android, iPhone, and Windows Phone).
Travelling with pets
EU nationals can travel within the EU with their cat or dog if it has a valid European pet passport. This is available from any authorised vet and contains information on vaccinations. For other animals such as pet rabbits or canaries, travellers should check relevant national rules about taking animals in/out of the country.
Problems with car rental company abroad
In 2017, Avis, Europcar, Enterprise, Hertz and Sixt changed their car rental commercial practices to address the huge number of consumer complaints concerning the lack of price transparency and unclear terms and conditions. Travellers encountering difficulties with car rental firms whilst driving in the EU can either contact the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in the country for assistance free of charge, or if it is not possible to solve the problem on the spot, they can contact the UK ECC upon returning home. The ECC-travel app can help drivers explain problems and EU consumer rights to the trader in their own language.
Car hire is not covered by EU "14 day cooling off" rules so travellers booking car rental online or via email do not automatically have the right to cancel and claim a refund, although some car hire firms may offer it.
Since 1 July 2018, UK holidaymakers benefit from additional rights and better protection when booking self-customised travel packages or linked travel arrangements under updated EU package travel rules. Travellers are also protected in case the operator goes bankrupt.