As Europe and Britain sit down to discuss the many new policies that will need to be put into practice post-Brexit, one of the proposals causing a great stir is the ETIAS travel authorization - the “travel tax” as it has come to be known - that will be implemented in the year 2021.

ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, is being developed by the European Union after agreement between the European Parliament and European Commission. A control immigration system needed to be implemented in Europe similar to that of the US ESTA, Canadian eTA or Australian.

However, the question remains what does ETIAS mean for Britons? Will UK citizens still be able to visit Europe post-Brexit without a visa? What will British nationals need to do before travelling to the Schengen Zone?

What will change for UK citizens who wish to visit the Schengen Area?

Currently, UK passport holders can travel anywhere in the EU without having to obtain a visa or a travel authorization. This was one of the many advantages of being part of the European Union which allows the free-movement of people between its member states.

The moment the UK departs from the EU, British citizens will become “third country nationals” and will have lost the automatic right of admission to other European nations. This means that UK nationals will have to obtain an ETIAS travel authorization in order to visit the Schengen Area.

The ETIAS travel authorization for Europe is being developed and structured. It should be implemented in the year 2021 and travelers from eligible countries will be required to apply online with a valid passport and an email address.

Back in April, 2018, EU ambassadors confirmed an agreement had been reached between the Council Presidency and the European Parliament. Representatives of the ETIAS system said that the “agreement is another important step in protecting the EU’s external borders.” ETIAS is being created in order to improve the security of the European region and its implementation should contribute to immigration control.

What do British citizens have to do to obtain ETIAS?

In the year 2021, British nationals wishing to travel to any European Schengen country will need to apply for the ETIAS online visa waiver. The process will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. The ETIAS online application form is straightforward and the majority of applicants will receive a quick response.

Filling out the ETIAS form online will include questions about the applicant’s health, criminal past, personal details and travel information. The person wishing to travel to Europe will also have to pay an ETIAS fee.

How will the EU proceed with the departure of the UK?

The European Union is a political and economic union of 28 members. The goals of the organization are to promote peace and offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders. It encourages sustainable development based on a balanced economic growth and price stability.

The UK voted to leave the European Union and it is scheduled to depart on Friday March 29th, in 2019. The EU and the UK have held several discussions on how to proceed and have provisionally agreed on three issues which are:

  • How much the UK owes the EU
  • What will occur with the Northern Ireland border
  • What will happen to UK citizens living in other EU member states and EU citizens living in the UK.

The EU and the UK will go through a transition period until December 31st, 2020, to work through all the changes and allow businesses and people to prepare for the moment the new rules post-Brexit begin.

Disadvantages for British Nationals visiting Europe, post-brexit

What will ETIAS mean for Brits travelling to Europe for business and holidays after Brexit? Although it will not be a complicated or long process, applying for the ETIAS travel authorization will have some negative effects for British tourists post-Brexit.

  1. The first and most obvious negative aspect of the ETIAS visa waiver for British citizens is that as opposed to the current process of travelling to Europe simply with the British passport and no extra documents or requirements, all eligible nationals will have to complete the ETIAS application prior to travelling and await the confirmation email with the valid visa waiver.

  2. Another disadvantage for British citizens regarding ETIAS is that the current price could change and Brits could be charged more to travel to Europe for holidays or business. It is possible that in the future, the EU decide to increase the ETIAS fee in order to cover the costs which they will need to counterbalance the loss that Brexit will provoke, which could result in repercussions for the British holidaymaker in Europe.

  3. Finally, there exists the possibility that certain people will be denied the ETIAS, required to provide additional information or attend an interview in order to obtain the visa waiver to visit Europe.

ETIAS application will ask questions regarding travel history, health and criminal activities which may give European Authorities the right to refuse entry to British nationals.

Britain’s new blue passport

While the EU and the UK work through future regulations and further agreements, European officials have warned that Britain’s new passport could generate delays and additional paperwork instead of the advantages promised by the government.

Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the return of the blue passports and that they are an expression of “independence and sovereignty.” In any case, the British passport might see diminished travel rights after Brexit. The ETIAS will be one requirement that UK citizens will be obliged to meet in order to travel to and around the Schengen Zone.

What does ETIAS offer brits visiting Europe?

British tourists in Europe, from 2021, will need to be in possession of a valid passport and a valid ETIAS visa waiver. Once they have obtained the ETIAS travel authorization they will be able to travel to the European Schengen area as at present with no problem.

  • The ETIAS travel authorization will be a multiple-entry visa allowing holders to travel to and around Europe as many times as they like within a 3-year period or until the holder’s passport expires.

  • Finally the ETIAS program is being developed with the aim of improving security within the European Schengen area regarding health and terrorist threats that have been evident in recent years in several zones. This means that along with other European schemes which are currently being implemented and designed to monitor immigration and travel to the EU, ETIAS will be used as a method of making travelling to Europe safer for all, including those British citizens who must obtain ETIAS before departure.