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Belgians already avoiding Britain: which problems can arise in the case of a no-deal Brexit?

Research carried out on behalf of the Belgian association of travel agents shows that about 40 percent less Belgian holiday makers are travelling to the U.K. compared to last year. It is not certain that this is representative, but British figures also reveal a downward trend. But what will the situation really be like after Halloween? Will we still be able to travel to the U.K. without too much red tape? How complicated can things really become? 

Pierre Fivet, spokesman for the Belgian travel agents, sees "a certain degree of concern" about a hard Brexit among Belgian holiday makers. But he claims there is no reason to be concerned: "We think a normal ID card will be enough to get in. And there may be opportunities: if the pound will drop further, travelling to the U.K. will become cheaper." However, experts agree that queues at the customs may become a lot longer. And there are more problems looming.    

Visa or no visa: what will it be?

Identity checks are already strict since Britain is not part of the Schengen area, says professor Steven Van Hecke, a European Politics Professor at Leuven University. "It would be very strange if we would suddenly need a visa to get inside a former EU country", he adds. 

Hendrik Vos, European Politics Professor at Ghent University, says it would be "economic suicide" if Britain would shut itself off from the rest of the EU "because they are very dependent on tourism." Van Hecke adds that while a no-deal Brexit may hurt Europe, it will also harm the U.K. for sure, which means the Britons will think twice before making any final decisions.  

The British embassy told VRT NWS that a visa will not be necessary after 31 October "no matter the exact circumstances". They add that "we want our Belgian neigbours to continue to visit the U.K., also after we have left the European Union". 

We want our Belgian neighbours to continue to visit the U.K. after Brexit

Train, plane or car: things can get complicated

Will the Eurostar train still be going? Eurostar is a British company and it should apply for a new license to be able to operatie in Belgium, France and the Netherlands after a no-deal Brexit. 

What about international flights? In theory, European airlines will have to ask for the British permission again, and vice versa. And if you want to drive your car on British soil, will you be able to do so with a Belgian driver's license? This is generally recognised in the EU, but what after a Brexit? Will we need a special international license? There are a number of questions that haven't been answered yet. 

Cheese, meat or milk: can we still take anything?

We are not paying any import taxes on products at present, simply because the U.K. is part of the EU. However, in the case of no-deal Brexit we will be faced with excise duties again, like on alcohol and cigarettes. 

In theory, we will no longer be able to bring any meat, milk, cheese or other animal products into the U.K. This may be checked at customs. "The question here will be: will the British really stage strict checks, or will they  continue the present situation? And will they have enough staff for these checks anyway?" Van Hecke says. He doubts whether there will be enough staff or means to stage strict checks, on both sides.