Brussels, 20 May 2014
Holiday season: useful tips for a worry-free summer
With the holiday season already starting and millions of Europeans planning trips across the continent and beyond, here are a few tips on what to do when faced with a problem. If you are wondering who will cover the costs of your treatment in case of an accident or want to know what papers to prepare before taking your dog aboard, here is a list of the things the European Union is doing to assist you on your travels.
I'm travelling outside Europe but my country has no embassy or consulate at my destination. Whom should I contact, if I need help?
As a citizen of an EU Member State, you are automatically an EU citizen, thus entitled to consular assistance if you are outside the EU (even if your own country is not represented). You can go to any other EU Member State's consulate or embassy to ask for help, if for example you are arrested, have a serious accident or lose important documents.
You are also entitled to assistance in crisis situations: EU Member States must help citizens evacuate when needed as if they were their own nationals.
You can find out if your country is represented at your destination on the European Commission's consular protection website.
Whom should I call, if my child should go missing?
The European Union has agreed on a common helpline number (116 000) to report a missing child in any EU Member State. Whether you are a parent whose child has gone missing, a child who has got lost or run away, or a person holding information about a missing child, you can dial the same number. It will connect you to an experienced organisation able to provide support and practical assistance, whether it is psychological, legal or administrative.
Who can help me, if during my holidays I have problems with an airline, a car rental company or a tour operator?
If my plane, train, bus and boat journeys are delayed or cancelled…
Thanks to EU passenger rights rules, if your flight or trip is delayed by several hours, the transports company you are travelling with should compensate you in a fair way. If it is cancelled and you have to stay in a hotel away from your final destination, the airline or the train operator should pay for it. Before travelling, check how to claim your rights at airports, ports, and bus and train stations across Europe, or download the application for smartphones.
What specific rights do I have, if I am a disabled traveller?
EU passenger rights rules protect disabled persons and persons with reduced mobility from discrimination when travelling by air or train and grant them the same access to transport as other citizens.
If you have the right to disabled parking facilities when travelling by a car in your home country, you are granted access to identical facilities all over Europe. All you need for this is your standardised model of disabled parking card.
I have booked a package holiday but my operator went bust. Can I get a refund?
The Package Travel Directive protects European consumers going on holidays and covers pre-arranged package holidays combining at least two of the following: (1) transport, (2) accommodation (3) other tourists services such as sightseeing tours (sold at an inclusive price).
The Directive provides protection covering: information in brochures, rights to cancel without penalty, liability for services (e.g. sub-standard hotels) and protection in the case of a tour operator or airline going bust.
In future, this protection will be extended to holidaymakers who book customised packages online (either from one trader or several commercially linked traders), under new proposals from the European Commission, backed by the European Parliament (MEMO/14/184). Around 120 million people will gain additional protection.
I liked my holiday so much, I'm thinking of buying a timeshare at the same resort. What should I keep in mind?
Thanks to the EU rules timeshare sellers must provide detailed information to customers in appropriate time, before the customer is bound by any contract, including the price to be paid, a description of the product and the exact period and length of stay that the customer is entitled to under the contract. This information should be provided in the customer's own language if they so choose.
The rules also ensure that customers may withdraw from a contract within a "cooling-off" period of 14 calendar days and that traders are not allowed to ask customers for any form of advance payment or deposit during that period. Before the conclusion of the contract, the trader is required to explicitly draw the customer’s attention to the existence of the right of withdrawal, the length of the withdrawal period and the ban on advance payments during the withdrawal period.
Exorbitant telephone bills ruin my holiday budget. How can I reduce them while traveling?
The EU is even saving you money when you travel, with further price drops this summer - the biggest drop being for data roaming: down from 45 cents per MB to 20 cents per MB (charged per Kilobyte used). See the table below for all new caps. What's more, from 1 July 2014 some mobile providers in Europe will allow you to choose a separate roaming contract before you travel and, where available, allow you to choose a local provider of mobile data roaming services in the country you are visiting. In this way, you can compare roaming offers, and benefit from more attractive offers and prices while you are on holiday. All this is good news for you, as you can relax and enjoy your summer while staying in touch with family and friends at home. Even better news is that the EU is working on new rules right now to eliminate roaming charges altogether! So by next Christmas, we expect roaming charges to be a thing of the past, and you can chat, text, download and surf anywhere in the EU just like you would at home!
What do I need to know if I want to take my pet (cat, dog or ferret) with me on holiday in the EU?
If you are travelling within the EU, you can easily take your pet, if you respect the following rules:
If you are taking your dog, cat or ferret, make sure that it has an anti-rabies vaccination and that this information is written down into your pet's passport.
If you are going to Ireland, Finland, Malta or the United Kingdom, your pet will also need to undergo an anti-parasite treatment.
If your dog or cat is less than 3 months old or if you have a pet which is not a dog, cat or ferret, country specific rules may apply.
Check our website for more information on this topic.
If you are an EU citizen travelling home with your pet from outside the EU, you will still need your pet's passport. Depending on your holiday destination, your pet may need to undergo additional tests to the anti-rabies vaccination before going on holiday.
If you are a resident of Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland or the Vatican City State holding a pet passport, you have the same rights as EU citizens.
Before departure, check the requirements of the country you are planning to visit.
Can I bring back some meat or cheese from my holidays abroad?
When returning home from most countries outside the EU, it is illegal to bring back any meat or dairy products whether these are for yourself or as a gift for others.
If you are coming back from the Faeroe Islands, Greenland or Iceland, you can bring back up to 10 kilos of certain products of animal origin, powdered infant milk, infant food, special food or special pet food required for medical reasons. To be able to transport these products, they must be put in sealed packages and should not weigh more than two kilos or require refrigeration before opening.
You can also bring back fish and certain shellfish from Greenland, if they weigh up to 20 kilos. For the Faeroe Islands or Iceland, no weight restrictions apply.
For other animal products, such as honey, you are also limited to two kilos.
When transporting animal products between countries inside the EU, these rules do not apply. Nor do they apply, if you are coming from Andorra, Liechtenstein, Norway, San Marino or Switzerland.
The EU may introduce further restrictions in the event of infectious animal diseases in third countries.
In case of doubt, check with the veterinary service at the point of entry into the EU (airport, port, road, etc.).
It is important to remember that these rules exist in order to protect your health and the health of EU livestock from serious animal diseases.
For more information, check out the travel Europa website.
The answers to more FAQs are here.
If you wish to ask another question, you can do so at this address.
What should I keep in mind if I take out a loan to pay for my package holiday?
The EU’s Consumer Credit Directive grants you certain rights when you buy something on credit. The five most important ones:
If I have problems while shopping during my holiday abroad, whom can I contact back home to help me get a redress?
If you live in the EU, Norway or Iceland, you can get free assistance once you are back home! Contact the European Consumer Centre (ECC) in your country, if you had problems renting a car, booking a package holiday or a plane ticket while travelling in the EU, Norway or Iceland. Their team can also help you solve problems you had when ordering accessories for your vacation online from another European country. Those travelling to Brazil for the World Cup can also get benefit from the ECC’s expertise. You can download a special world cup guide on your rights as a consumer in Brazil from here.
During my holiday, I bought a new pair of shoes but they broke after a week. How can I get my money back? What are the rules?
No matter where you shop within the EU, you have basic consumer rights that cannot be taken away. 2-year guarantee - the seller must repair or replace faulty goods free of charge. If that is not possible within reasonable time or without inconvenience, you may ask for a refund or a price reduction. Commercial guarantees do not replace the minimum 2-year guarantee but may complement it.
Whatever your nationality, EU consumer laws apply to purchases of goods or services made in any outlet located in the EU territory. Warranties are regulated by law Europe-wide. An EU Directive specifies the minimum degree of protection of buyers. Member States are obliged to implement the EU requirements in national law, which may also offer a higher level of protection.
Thanks to the European Small Claims procedure, you are also able to claim your money back in three simple steps, if you purchased a faulty product abroad. In many cases and in all EU countries – with the exception of Denmark – you can make use of this process. It is a speedy, cost-effective alternative to traditional court procedures, and can currently be used for commercial, including consumer transactions involving up to €2,000. You only have to submit a standard form to the competent court.
Another piece of good news for consumers is that new EU rules on consumer rights will enter into force as of 13 June 2014, which will ensure that all EU citizens have 14 days if they wish to return goods bought at a distance, whether by internet, post or phone (MEMO/14/1144).
What happens if I need to see a doctor abroad?
If you get sick or suffer an injury while travelling to an EU country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland, you have the right to emergency treatment. For this, you need the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) with you. The treatment you will receive will be provided under the same conditions and at the same cost as for people insured in the country you are visiting. So don't forget to ask your national health insurance provider to issue it for you, free of charge.
To keep the emergency phone numbers you may need with you and for more information about the treatments covered and their costs, how to claim reimbursement and whom to contact in case you lose your card, download the special smartphone application.
The app is available in 24 languages. The app does not replace the EHIC.
If you are a chronic disease patient and you need to get your medicine while travelling abroad, ask your doctor for a cross-border prescription before you leave.
More information :
David Hudson (+32 2 296 83 35)
Andreana Stankova (+32 2 295 78 57)