Going on holiday this summer? Know your EU rights!
25 July 2017
Now that schools have broken up and the holiday season has officially begun, millions of Europeans will spend summer travelling across the continent and beyond. Here is some useful guidance, detailing the main things the European Union is doing to assist citizens on their travels and offer help should you face any problems wherever in the world you may be. As current EU citizens, we can still enjoy these rights to make the most and have the best holiday possible.
Please use this information wisely, and have a happy, safe and relaxing summer!
For ambulance, fire brigade or police, emergency number in all EU countries is: 112. It’s free of charge, wherever you are in the EU
Emergency number for missing children is 116 000
Travelling around the world
As a UK citizen, you can go to any EU member state's consulate or embassy, in case the UK is not represented there, 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.
With your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) you can receive treatment under the same conditions and at the same cost as for people covered by state healthcare provision in the country you're visiting.
The EHIC is valid in any EU country, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland.
The NHS can issue the card for free ahead of your travel.
There is now even a free EHIC app which you can download to any smartphone if you want more information while on the go - download here.
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, make sure your doctor includes all the required information.
Using your phone abroad – new EU rules keep down the cost
The EU has recently greatly reduced the cost of using your mobile phone in another EU country. From 15 June 2017, no extra roaming charges will apply whatsoever when you use your phone abroad.
The maximum tariffs for calls, texts and data are as follows:
30 April 2016
15 June 2017**
Outgoing voice calls (per minute)
domestic price + up to €0.05
no extra roaming fee, same as domestic price
Incoming voice calls (per minute)
Outgoing texts (per text)
domestic price + up to €0.02
Online (data download, per MB*)
domestic price + up to €0.05
EU passenger rights
Thanks to EU passenger rights rules, if your flight (or international train and coach services) is delayed by several hours, the transport company you are travelling with should compensate you. If a flight is covered by EU rules, you are entitled to a refund or alternative travel if your flight is cancelled, overbooked or you are denied boarding.
EU legislation also prevents hidden charges appearing on flights at checkout. Since 2008, airlines have to charge the same prices to all customers within the EU, and the price you see is the price you pay. That means no more £1 pound flights with £100 taxes and checkout fees...
There is also a free app for smartphones allowing you to check how to claim your rights at airports, ports, and bus stations across Europe, as well as details of exactly when you are covered by these rights, and for exceptions, for more details see here.
Driving in the EU
A driving licence issued in an EU country is valid throughout the EU. In addition, your car insurance policy from your home country covers you throughout the EU if you have an accident.
UK driving licences can be used throughout the EU. Traffic rules can vary from a 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, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland
Travelling with a pet
As an EU national, you can freely travel with your cat or dog if it has a European pet passport. This passport is available from any authorised vet and contains information on vaccinations. If you have other pets, such as rabbits or canaries, you should check relevant national rules on taking animals in/out of the country.
The Package Travel Directive protects European consumers going on holidays and covers pre-arranged package holidays combining at least two of the following: transport, accommodation, other tourists' services such as sightseeing tours (sold at an inclusive price). The rules give EU consumers core rights when booking a package holiday such as:
- the right to full information before booking;
- the right to transfer your booking to another person if you cannot go yourself;
- the right to a refund and repatriation if the organiser goes bankrupt.
Paying for your holiday on credit
The EU’s Consumer Credit Directive grants you concrete rights when you buy something on credit. The five most important ones:
- the consumer credit ads you are looking at should be transparent and easy to understand;
- before signing a contract, you should receive enough information to be able to compare the different offers;
- once you sign your agreement, you should get a copy of it;
- if you change your mind, you have 14 days to withdraw from the contract;
- you should be able to repay your credit earlier than foreseen against a fair compensation.
Rules for refunds on goods bought abroad
Since 2014, new EU rules mean consumers now have 14 days if they wish to return goods bought at a distance, whether by internet, post or phone. Consumers in the EU benefit from a 2-year guarantee - the seller must repair or replace faulty goods free of charge. If that is not possible within a reasonable time or without inconvenience, you may ask for a refund or a price reduction.
The European Small Claims procedure also enables money to be claimed back in three simple steps if you purchased a faulty product abroad. In many cases and in all EU countries – except Denmark – you can make use of this process. You only have to submit a standard form to the competent court. This speedy, cost-effective alternative to traditional court procedures can currently be used for commercial, including consumer transactions up to €2,000 (£1,400).
If you are unfortunate enough to become a victim of crime abroad, EU rules ensure you have access to the police and courts, that you’re protected from further victimisation or intimidation and can access compensation and information in your own language.
IMPORTANT!!! TRAVEL INSURANCE
Although all these essential rights are guaranteed to all EU citizens, it is still absolutely essential to have an adequate travel insurance policy. In some cases you may need private or evacuation medical treatment, which your EHIC doesn't cover. So don't run the risk of having bills running into tens of thousands of pounds. Or maybe you have to cancel your holiday in the UK because of an illness or other emergency, or you lose part of your holiday if the airline goes bust and you can't reach your destination. You should account for all circumstances while travelling to ensure you enjoy the most stress-free time possible!
You can also find many more useful travel tips by clicking here.