Your rights when on holiday in the European Union
By European Movement
Europeans make about 1.5 billion trips a year, with 90% of those trips taking within the EU. A large part of those trips are for holiday and as many of us are about to go on a break in another EU member state it is good to know what our rights are while on holiday anywhere in the EU.
Passengers' EU rights
Airline passengers are entitled to compensation of between €125 and €600 as well as accommodation and transport home for delayed boarding and flight cancellations.
Under EU law airlines are also required to provide customers with a free phone call, refreshments, meals, accommodation and transport if their flight is delayed. Where the delay is more than five hours, and you decide not to continue your journey, you are entitled to have your ticket reimbursed and be flown back to where you originally started your journey.
Passengers who have their baggage lost, damaged, delayed or sent to another location are entitled to compensation (up to €1220).
Tour operators such as Thomas Cook are obliged to provide thoroughly comprehensive information to passengers and are required to protect passengers in the event of insolvency of the company.
Low cost airlines must now be fully transparent when listing their tickets prices; operators are required to clearly show the full price, inclusive of all taxes and duties a passenger must pay.
Rail companies are obligated to reimburse customers tickets where a delay of at least 60 minutes takes place on any part of the journey and to compensate passengers for a delay in excess of 60 minutes. Additionally passengers must be offered a free meal where a journey is delayed by more than 60 minutes.
Passengers travelling for more than 250km on bus and coach across Europe are entitled to the following;
-Snacks, meals, refreshments and if necessary, up to two nights' hotel accommodation (up to €80 per night) for passengers who suffer a cancellation or delay of more than 90 minutes except in cases of severe weather or a natural disaster.
-Guaranteed reimbursement or re-routing where a bus or coach has been overbooked cancelled or is delayed by more than 120 minutes.
-Compensation of 50% of the ticket price following more than 120 minutes' delay.
The EU Package Travel Directive gives you many EU-wide rights when you book a package holiday. European Consumer Centres offer holiday advice on these rights and free help if you have problems with a tour operator or travel agency based in another EU country, Iceland or Norway.
Your main package travel rights are:
-Right to information
-Right to transfer your package to someone else
-Right to a guaranteed price
-Right to cancel
-Right to an alternative package or reimbursement
The European Health Insurance Card
The card provided for free to EU citizens gives the holder access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare while on holiday in any EU Member State (as well as Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).
The EHIC will cover any medical treatment that becomes necessary during your trip because of either illness or an accident.
The card provides the bearer with access to reduced-cost or free medical treatment from state healthcare providers.
It includes treatment of a chronic or pre-existing medical condition that becomes necessary during your visit.
It includes routine maternity care. Where the birth happens unexpectedly, the card will cover the cost of all medical treatment for mother and baby.
The card also covers routine medical care for people with pre-existing conditions that need monitoring.
Using your phone while on holiday
Thanks to the EU you can use your mobile phone when travelling anywhere in the EU for a fraction of the cost you had to pay just a few years ago.
Using a mobile phone to make and receive calls and texts while on holiday across the EU has been reduced by over 80% since 2007.
Data roaming is now up to 91% cheaper compared to 2007.
Those on holiday to Croatia will enjoy big savings this year, as the cost for data is almost 15 times cheaper than before.
To protect you against excessive data roaming bills, the volume of downloaded data on your mobile device is capped, worldwide, at €50, unless you have agreed to a different limit with your operator. You will also receive a warning when you reach 80% of this agreed limit.
Alcohol and tobacco
Under EU law, on your way back from holiday you can take home with you, without having to pay excise duty, up to 800 cigarettes, 400 cigarillos, 200 cigars, 1 kg of tobacco, 10 litres of spirits, 20 litres of fortified wine 90 litres of wine (including a maximum of 60 litres of sparkling wines), 110 litres of beer.
17 members of the European Union1 use the same currency, which spares tourists, who plan to travel to more than one country during their holiday, from having to change currency and helps them to easily compare prices between countries.
EU nationals do not need to show national ID card or passport when travelling from one passport-free EU country to another. The passport-free Schengen area includes EU members states Austria, Hungary, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Latvia, Slovakia, Estonia, Slovenia, Finland, Lithuania, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany, Malta, Greece, Netherlands as well as non-EU states Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland.
If you have a problem outside the EU, where your country does not have a consulate or embassy, you have the right to seek consular protection from any other EU country.
112: single EU emergency number
112 is the European emergency number those travelling through the EU can dial free of charge from fixed and mobile phones everywhere in the EU. It will get you straight through to the emergency services - police, ambulance, fire brigade.
National emergency numbers are still in use too, alongside 112. But 112 is the only number you can use to access the emergency services in all EU countries.
Effective aviation safety standards in Europe have rendered the EU's safety record amongst the best in the world. Whilst the EU and its Member States are working with safety authorities in other countries to raise safety standards across the world, there are still some airlines operating in conditions below essential safety levels.
To improve safety in Europe further, the European Commission - in consultation with Member States' aviation safety authorities - has decided to ban airlines found to be unsafe from operating in European airspace.
Your insurance from home will always cover you if you injure someone else (third-party damages) in any EU country.
EU law guarantees minimum liability coverage. If you are in an accident in another EU country, you will be covered for at least the following amounts:
- for personal injuries: €1.000.000 per victim or €5.000.000 per claim (whatever the number of victims).
- for damages to property: €1.000.000 per claim (whatever the number of victims).
If your insurance policy comes from a country that applies higher liability coverage than the EU minimum, you will be covered up to that amount throughout the EU.
EU nationals can get a European pet passport, which allows their cat or dog to freely travel with them anywhere in the EU.
1, Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain, as well as overseas territories, such as the Azores, the Canaries, Ceuta and Melilla, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Madeira, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion, and Saint Pierre and Miquelon. Monaco, San Marino and Vatican City use the euro as their national currency, in agreement with the EU. A number of countries and territories use the euro as their de facto currency such as Andorra, Kosovo and Montenegro.
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