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Summer holiday tips for EU travels
With the summer holiday season starting, here are a few useful tips for EU travellers.
No more mobile phone bill shocks
Since 15 June, 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 that you consume abroad will be charged the same as your domestic rate.
The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles you to receive treatment under the same conditions and cost as those covered by state healthcare provisions in the country you're visiting. 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. Information available on the go via this smartphone app.
Prescriptions issued by a doctor registered in the EU are valid in all EU countries. However, in order to make it easier to get your 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 you have a serious accident or lose important documents. You are also entitled to assistance and/or evacuation in crisis situations.
Find out if the UK is represented at your destination.
EU passenger rights
If things do not go as planned and your flight, international train or coach journey is delayed by several hours, EU passenger rights rules entitle you to appropriate compensation depending on the nature of the delay. This may simply be meals and refreshments and financial compensation, but if the delay means an overnight stay then you are entitled to accommodation as well. Before travelling, check how to claim your 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 when you are covered and for exceptions see here and if operators fail to address travellers' complaints then travellers can lodge complaints 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
A driving licence issued in an EU country is valid throughout the EU. In addition, your third party car insurance policy covers you throughout the EU if you have an accident and damage property or injure another person. Further details are available here.
Traffic rules vary from one member state to another. You can download the free European Road Safety App, which 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)
Traveling with your pet
As an EU national, you can travel within the EU with your cat or dog if it has a valid European pet passport. This passport is available from any authorised vet and contains information on vaccinations. There are no movement restrictions for pet rabbits or canaries, but travellers should check relevant national rules about taking animals in/out of the country.
Problems with car rental company abroad
Earlier this year 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. Hopefully, this should mean European consumers are treated more fairly this summer. However, should you encounter difficulties with car rental firms then you can get free assistance from the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in the country where you are. They will advise you on your consumer rights and on the arguments to be presented to the company. If it is not possible to solve problems on the spot, keep all the necessary evidence and contact the UK ECC when you're back. Whilst abroad, the ECC-travel app can also help you explain your issue and your rights to the trader in their language.
It is important to bear in mind that you do not automatically have the right to cancel and claim a refund if you booked a car rental online.