How Would Scottish Independence Affect Travel?

As someone who is currently planning a trip to Scotland, I started wondering how Scottish Independence would affect travel.  Here are some bits of information I came across.

From the Daily Mail:

4. Will Scotland be allowed into the EU?

No one knows. Alex Salmond points to EU leaders accepting that the referendum is a question for the Scots.

But Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister, is currently refusing to even allow Catalonia even to hold a referendum and would be loathe to encourage separatism in his country. Belgium would also be reluctant to allow a secessionist precedent to be set.

Any decision on Scotland’s EU status requires a unanimous vote.

Read more:


Why is this important?  Right now, you can move freely between EU countries.  If Scotland isn’t immediately accepted into the EU, you’ll have to go through border controls when entering and leaving the country.

For example:  (Also from the Daily Mail)

24. Will cross-border train and bus services still run?

Yes. But if Scotland is blocked from joining the EU – or the ‘rump UK’ leaves in 2017 – then there could be major border disruption.

While the SNP is right to say ‘cross-border rail services operate throughout Europe every day’ border controls exist where one country is not in the EU.

Switzerland, which is not in the EU, is an exception – but this is because the country has signed up to freedom of movement rules which the UK has not.

Read more:


According to the Telegraph, Scotland strongly believes it would remain part of the Common Travel Area of the UK, but Scotland’s position on a more lax-immigration policy makes that less attractive to the UK:

The Scottish government insists that an independent Scotland will remain part of the Common Travel Area (CTA), within which citizens can “move freely across the borders as they are presently able to doâ€. But it has also made suggestions that it will look to increase inward migration, possibly with a more open immigration policy. Such changes might jeopardise its membership of the CTA.

Also, since the UK negotiated different EU terms than the rest of the countries, if Scotland is accepted into the EU but under the general (not UK) rules, it still affects travel between the two countries (also from the Telegraph):

The other issue relates to an independent Scotland’s ability to retain its current EU membership with the UK’s unique Schengen Area “opt-outâ€. If it is forced to adopt the EU’s Schengen policy, it would be obliged to introduce border checks at its Schengen frontiers – including those with England. Should checks be introduced it could make travelling between the two countries far more tiresome and prone to delays.

ScotlandThis article states that the Scottish National Party thinks that is unlikely.

In a plus for travelers, the Scottish National Party wants to scrap the duty everyone has to pay when flying into UK airports.

Also, it looks like a lot of Brits are already cancelling their travel plans out of spite.  There might be more availability in the Scottish hotels, and this could mean a good time to visit.

Different companies are warning that prices could go up if Scotland gets its independence due to losing efficiencies of scale.  But read further into that to see counter arguments as well.

(For those who ARE Scottish, here are some thoughts on how this would affect your passport and ability to get visas).

All in all, it looks to me like there may be more waiting and bureaucracy, and perhaps some confusion, but that it shouldn’t affect your travel plans enough to cancel or reschedule.

If you are worried about whether or not they will accept the Euro, see if you can get a chip version of a credit card without foreign transaction fees to use over there 😉

As far as I go, my trip planning is still on.

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. Hmmmmm, what about a creative way to avoid UK departure taxes without going to Dublin? I’m looking at you, PHL to GLA or EDI flights!

    I’m going to Scotland in February and this is a very interesting development.

  2. I just hope a civil war doesn’t start similar to what happened after South Carolina seceded from the Union. 😉

  3. “If you are worried about whether or not they will accept the Euro” – I think you mean the British Pound. 🙂

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      I actually mean the Euro. Since there’s an outstanding question as to whether or not they would be welcome in the EU after they break away, they either would be using the Euro or their own currency. If they break from England, they wouldn’t use the British banking system.

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