THE UK has this week signed a historic Brexit deal ahead of leaving the EU on January 1 – but what does it mean for Brits?

The last-minute deal will allow us to trade freely with the EU without tariffs or quotas. As the full text of the agreement is published, here's what it means for your holidays, finances and the cost of shopping.

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Can I still go on hols to Europe?


Brits will be able to travel across Europe without a visa for up to six months in a year, and a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period.

There's nothing new there – that would have been the case even in the event of a No Deal Brexit.

However, if you're planning on taking a sunshine break next year, remember your freedom to travel could depend on coronavirus restrictions.

You should have at least six months left on your passport before you travel, as already advised by the Government.

Then from the year after next – 2022 – people from the UK will also have to stump up for a visa-waiver scheme to visit many countries in the EU.

The fee for that hasn't been decided yet – but it'll cover three-year periods and allow people to enter the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within any 180-day period.

Will I get healthcare there?

The short answer is: yes – but it's best to think ahead (and, as always, to get insurance before you travel).

Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will still be valid for the time being.

The UK will ultimately provide its own version of the card.

And all EHIC permits issued before the end of this year will be valid, but only until their expiry date.

After that, the Government will issue a new card called the UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

When it's released, the new card will cover existing or chronic illnesses, routine maternity care and emergencies.

Under the agreement reached between the UK and the EU, specific treatments – say, for cancer or dialysis – 'must be subject to a prior agreement between the insured person and the unit providing the treatment'.

Can my pet go with me?

They can, but again, there are some important changes to be aware of.

Pet passports won't be valid any more from January 1.

Instead, negotiators thrashed out a deal which will see the UK given 'part two listed' status.

That means pets will be allowed to travel within EU borders.

Owners must make sure their pet has been vaccinated against rabies.

They'll also need to get all animals microchipped and an animal health certificate, which must be obtained at least ten days before travel.

The document itself is only valid for four months and one trip.

Will it cost me to use my phone abroad?

In 2017, the EU scrapped data roaming charges within EU countries.

So, since that time, UK customers have been able to use the minutes, texts and data included on their mobile phone tariffs when travelling in the EU.

Before the rules changed, using a mobile phone in Europe was expensive.

So, could we see a return to huge bills when we're on holiday?

The Government don't say that the ban on additional roaming charges will continue after Brexit.

In their draft agreement – released this morning – they say network suppliers will be encouraged to "make publicly available information on retail rates for international mobile roaming services for voice, data and text messages offered to their end users".

In July this year, officials did issue a warning about this.

They said the guarantee of free mobile roaming for people travelling through the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway would end from January 1 2021.

But legislation has been passed already to protect customers. There's a £45-a-month limit on the amount customers can be charged for using mobile data abroad before they have to opt into further use.

Customers must also be informed when they have reached 80 per cent and 100 per cent of their data allowance

So if you are heading away, this is definitely one to be wary of – and it's worth checking with your provider.

Can I drive abroad?

From January 1, many EU countries will need you to get an International Driving Permit.

That costs £5.50 at your local Post Office.

You will also have to apply for a 'green card' to prove you have the right car insurance.

The certificates are free of charge – but they're also really important.

Travellers who forget them will be forced to buy expensive 'frontier' insurance in the country they are visiting.

The Government has the full list of countries you'll need an IDP to drive in – and which version authorities require.


Will my basket go up in price?

It's a possibility that the cost of food will be affected by Brexit – even now a deal has been agreed.

The UK and the EU will continue to trade without having to pay tariffs on goods imported and exported between the two blocs from January 1, in a Canada-style deal.

And Boris Johnson says that's a great thing for Brit food businesses.

The PM said: "If anything, a deal will allow exporters to do even more business with our EU friends."

However, what we might see are some shortages, especially at the beginning.

An overview published by the European Commission suggested the EU would immediately implement tough new checks on food products.

There'll be no grace period, so that will start right away.

Leaders in British food and farming have warned that this, plus the chaos in Dover and last-minute nature of the deal, is likely to result in some price rises.


When quizzed by The Sun, the PM said he was "absolutely confident" the deal "protects our police co-operation, protects our ability to catch criminals and to share intelligence across the European continent in the way that we have done for many years".

He added: "I don't think people should have fears on that score, or indeed on any score."

He said the deal would prioritise the "safety and security of its citizens" – and claimed it offers "streamlined co-operation" on law enforcement to bring criminals to justice.

Brexit documents released today reveal the UK and EU will work together on security "when itn their mutual interest".

Either side will be expected to share best practices and continue to cooperate, officials say.


Will my home cost more?

Experts have been divided for some time now on what Brexit means for the market.

But it's generally agreed that prices will fall in 2021 regardless of whether the UK left with a trade deal in place.

Over the summer, the housing market has experienced a mini-boom thanks to a stamp duty break, which is due to end on March 31.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicted last month that house prices will fall by 8.5% by the end of next year.

What does it mean for the pound?

The pound rose ahead of a deal being secured – and it's generally accepted that the pound will be stronger with the agreement in place.

The Bank of England (BoE) warned last week that "sterling would retreat" if the UK left without a deal.

It's worth remembering though that it's still 10 per cent down compared to what it was on the day of the EU referendum 2016.

The pound slumped by 15 per cent following the results which saw Brits vote to leave the bloc, trading at a 30-year low against the US dollar and other currencies.

The deal is also good news for inflation.

The BoE had said that, if we left without a trading agreement, growth would slow down and inflation would surge as a result of a weaker pound.

They said the hit to the economy, particularly after the coronavirus pandemic, could be devastating.

Official Brexit documents show banks in both sides will remain accountable to the public.


Can I work abroad in the EU?

Yes, but it'll be harder than it was.

Brits won't have the complete freedom to work and start a business in the EU, as we previously did.

Short-term business trips are fine, although you'll need a visa for anything longer than 90 days.

Those in very highly-skilled jobs who have been seconded to the EU will face more relaxed restrictions.

Managers are allowed to stay for up to three years and trainees for one year.

But it's probably going to be tougher for doctors, nurses, dentists, engineers and other people in specialisms to practise abroad.

That's because qualifications issued in the UK won't be automatically recognised any more.

Instead, they will have to seek new recognition in whichever member state they choose to go to.


Can I study abroad?

Yes, but it'll be slightly different.

The UK has pulled out of the EU-funded student exchange programme Erasmus.

The student exchange programme which was established in 1987.

It gives people from the EU the chance to study abroad at universities in member states.

Since 1987 more than 300,000 UK students have studied or worked in Europe on the Erasmus exchange programme.

But that's out – and instead, the Government will allow students the chance to compete for places on a new scheme named after Bletchley Park code breaker Alan Turing.

Successful applicants will be able to travel to other universities around the world.

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