How will Brexit affect my holiday in Portugal?

Portuguese beach holidays are still an attractive option for Brits on holiday / Pixabay
Portuguese beach holidays are still an attractive option for Brits on holiday / Pixabay
18 March 2019, Tom Beck

With Brexit on the horizon, it's all really starting to kick off. While it’s true that there’s a buffer implementation period until 31st December 2020, as of the 2019 exit date (whenever it finally may be!), British citizens are going to start feeling the effects of Brexit in many different ways, not least of which when they're on their jollies. So, what will happen with your holidays in Europe after Brexit?

Exchange rates

Although there are still very few hard and fast facts about Brexit and no one really knows what the future will bring, many people are predicting that the value of the Pound Sterling will fall greatly against the Euro. For the common person on the street, this would mean a worse exchange rate and more expensive holidays abroad in Europe. On the other hand, the currency exchange markets could well go the other way and we could see a positive change in exchange rates with the Pound taking a stronger position against the Euro. Either way, the disparity doesn’t seem set to last very long and the Pound to Euro exchange rate between the UK and the EU will probably stabilise again after a couple of months.


For the time being, British holidaymakers will not need travel visas to go on vacation to Portugal. However, this may still change after the end of the implementation period in 2021, and people travelling to European countries from Britain will have to complete an online form and pay 7 euro for a visa waiver.

Furthermore, if visas are needed after 2021, you could also need more paperwork and preparation to move to Portugal to live and work there, although it shouldn’t be any harder than what thousands of people from non-European countries already do when they move to a different country. What may even happen is that each European country decides to make bilateral deals with the UK government about the free movement of workers and expats across foreign borders.

For the time being, just make sure you follow the rule you would do when travelling anywhere else - be sure to have at least 6 months left before your passport runs out. This may even become mandatory if there is a 'no-deal' Brexit.

In the airport after Brexit

Air travel may become more stressful after Brexit / Flickr
Air travel may become more stressful after Brexit / Flickr

One thing that is sure to change for British travellers in Europe after Brexit is that we will lose our right to use the ‘EU passports’ queue at the airport. Say goodbye to feeling smug about going through the fast-track lane for European citizens while the rest of the world is stuck in a big, long line. Security control restrictions when travelling to and from Europe are going to become more time-consuming and travelling through airports will be a lot more stressful.

Flight prices

Will flights be more expensive after Brexit? It’s possible because airlines will more to pay more expenses and taxes for their flights between the UK and the European Union and they will most likely pass those costs along to the consumer. It could easily happen the other way around, though, and what may happen is that if fewer people fly abroad to Europe on vacation, airline companies will be forced to offer more and cheaper deals to make up for it and the cost of flying to Europe could actually get cheaper.

Duty free

The UK lost the right to buy duty free goods from Europe when we joined the EU in 1973, we but we profited from the ability to bring as much back as we liked, which led to the infamous Booze Cruises where people went to buy loads of cheap plonk in Calais. After Brexit, duty free shopping will change. We will have limits on the amount of alcohol and tobacco we’re allowed to take back to Britain without paying extra fines: the new free limit will be 200 cigarettes, 16 litres of beer and 4 litres of wine. At the same time, these things will actually be cheaper than they are now because they’ll be free of duty and so you won’t have to pay any taxes on them.

Healthcare in Europe after Brexit

The good news for Brits going on holiday to the EU after Brexit is that you can still use the European health insurance card (EHIC) that grants you free healthcare in Europe after Brexit. That means that if the worst happens and you fall ill while holidaying in Portugal after Brexit, you can still receive medical attention in a Portuguese hospital.

Roaming charges

Data useage on your mobile phone could cost more after Brexit / PublicDomainPictures
Data useage on your mobile phone could cost more after Brexit / PublicDomainPictures

Another possible way how Brexit could affect your holidays is that using your mobile phone will be pricier. Since mobile service providers will no longer be restricted by European regulations, they will be free to charge as much as want, so the use data-draining apps like Google Maps to help guide you around Lisbon could land you with an eye-popping phone bill when you get home. The solution is simple, though, as many phone companies offer great package deals with near-unlimited data and free foreign roaming, so people with one of these tariffs shouldn’t see too much change.

Nosy neighbours

So these are the most likely effects of Brexit on holidays in Portugal. No one in the world is an expert on Brexit, not even the politicians who are supposedly leading us through it, but we can be fairly sure that the UK will benefit in terms of Duty Free shopping, and our healthcare provision, visa requirements and exchange rates shouldn’t change too much.

One last thing that is sure to happen to British holidaymakers in Europe after Brexit (as anyone who has visited Europe after the referendum can confirm) is that as soon as anyone knows you’re from Britain, they’ll ask you lots of questions about Brexit and want your opinion. Even when you all you want is just to sit back, relax and enjoy the sunny Portuguese beaches, you won’t be free of Brexit for long!

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