When the UK leaves the European Union tonight, for some it will signify the end of an era.

But in reality it’s only the beginning, as we enter the transition period.

- What happens on January 31?

At 11pm in the UK - midnight in Brussels - Brexit finally happens. The UK leaves the European Union and, under the terms of the deal negotiated with Brussels, enters a transition period.

The terms of the deal are aimed at ensuring there is no sudden cliff-edge change for businesses and citizens, and life will continue largely unchanged.

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- So what happens then?

January 31 is not the end of the Brexit process. It may only mark the end of the beginning. The transition period which runs until the end of 2020 is aimed at giving time for the Government and Brussels to thrash out the future relationship between the UK and EU.

 - But what is going to change after tonight?

Not a lot to be honest. But below are some things you should definitely know – and make arrangements for.

- How will Brexit affect me travelling to another country?

By the end of 2020, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) - which has enabled Britons to have access to EU healthcare in an emergency - will no longer work.

Travellers are advised to ensure they have adequate travel insurance for the full duration of their trip, both in 2020 and beyond.

 - Will holiday firms be making changes?

Travel firms are insisting that “everything will remain the same” for holidaymakers after Brexit.

Warnings were issued last year about potential restrictions for foreign travel in the event of the UK withdrawing from the EU without an agreement.

These included passports needing to be valid for six months after the end of trips and passengers not being allowed to use border queues designated for EU passport holders.

But Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel trade organisation Abta, told the PA news agency that the transition period means there will be no changes when Brexit happens at 11pm on Friday.

Holidaymakers unsure how Brexit will affect travel plans can visit www.abta.com/brexit for Abta’s latest advice.

Does this apply to ferry firms too?

Trade organisation Discover Ferries director Emma Batchelor said: “It is clear that there is a lot of confusion around travel to EU countries this year, resulting in many people delaying their holiday plans.

“I would therefore like to reassure anyone looking to travel by ferry this year that there are no changes. All valid passports, EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) cards and pet passports will still be authorised for travel to the EU and there will not be any new requirement for visas to Europe or passports to travel to the British Isles.”

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– What will happen to roaming charges across the EU for UK smartphone owners?

For now, mobile operators say they have no plans to go back to charging UK users roaming fees when travelling around the EU.

Once the UK leaves the EU on January 31, the country will enter a transition period until the end of 2020.

During this time, the Government will go about negotiating all of the rules and regulations we have adopted from the EU, which could include roaming charges.

– What does my network say?

EE: “Our customers enjoy inclusive roaming in Europe and we have no plans to change this based on the Brexit outcome.”

Vodafone: “Vodafone has no plans to change our roaming charges because of Brexit.”

O2: “At O2, we are committed to providing our customers with great connectivity and value when they travel outside the UK.

“We currently have no plans to change our roaming services across Europe.

“We will be working closely with the UK government and other European mobile operators to try to maintain the current EU ‘Roam like at home’ arrangements once the UK leaves the EU.”

Three: “Three is the global leader in international roaming and now offers roaming at no extra cost for its customers in over 70 destinations including Brazil, Singapore, the US and Australia.

“We’re committed to eradicating excessive roaming charges and will retain this great customer benefit regardless of Brexit negotiations allowing our customers to continue using their usual allowances when they travel within the EU.”

 - What about travelling with my pet?

Nothing will change before 31 December, but after that very much depends on what is negotiated over the next 11 months.

Currently, dogs, cats and ferrets can travel freely across the EU on an EU pet passport, under the EU pet travel scheme.

From next year they may need extra certificates and vaccinations if the EU declares the UK a “part 1 listed third country” for pet travel purposes, a “part 2 listed third country” or an “unlisted third country”.

 - What about duty free?

In 1999 the right to buy duty free when travelling between EU countries was lost. However, we did gain the right to bring home A LOT of duty paid goods – such as wine from France. Booze cruise anyone? From 2021 the Government says that we will be able to buy duty-free tobacco and alcohol when travelling to the EU but it’s not clear what these will mean or whether there will be changes to duty paid goods.

 - Do I need a different driving licence?

If you want to drive in the EU this year you just need to carry a full UK driving licence. But from 2021 you may also need an international driving permit (IDP) to drive in some EU countries.