As discussions between Europe and Britain continue regarding post-Brexit policies, one of the proposals at the forefront of talks has been the ETIAS travel authorisation, Europe’s visa waiver to be implemented in late 2022.
ETIAS, the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, is being developed by the EU after an agreement between the European Parliament and European Commission. The visa waiver system is similar to that of the US ESTA and Canadian eTA.
Britain’s exit from the EU has led to questions about how travel will be affected by Brexit and whether UK citizens travelling to Europe will require a visa waiver.
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 authorisation. 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.
By departing the EU, British citizens will become “third-country nationals” and lose the automatic right of admission to other European nations.
ETIAS for UK citizens is set to be implemented by the end of the year 2022, by which time the Brexit transition period will have ended and Britain will be out of the union.
UK citizens travelling to Europe will be required to apply online with a valid passport and an email address before leaving Britain.
What do British tourists have to do to obtain ETIAS?
By the end of the year 2022, British nationals wishing to travel to any European Schengen country will need to apply for the ETIAS UK visa waiver online.
The ETIAS application requires a few basic personal and passport details in addition to some health and security information. The ETIAS fee is then paid using a debit or credit card before being submitted for review.
The process takes approximately 10 minutes to complete and most ETIAS for UK citizens will be approved within minutes.
The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement
The European Union is a political and economic union of 27 members. The goals of the organisation are to promote peace and offer freedom, security and justice without internal borders. It encourages sustainable development based on balanced economic growth and price stability.
The Brexit withdrawal agreement was signed on January 24th, 2020, setting the terms for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU. Some of the areas covered by the agreement include:
- Financial, the division of assets and liabilities, paying off debt
- Rights of UK citizens residing in the EU and vice versa
- Border arrangements and customs
The EU and the UK are now in a transition period until December 31st, 2020 during which time businesses and people can prepare for the moment the new rules post-Brexit begin.
Until the end of the implementation period, British nationals can travel to Europe as normal and remain in the Schengen Area without obtaining additional documentation. However, UK citizens travelling to Europe from 2022 will need an ETIAS visa waiver.
Britain’s new blue passport
Former Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed the return of the blue passports and that they are an expression of “independence and sovereignty.”
As a member of the EU, British passports had been burgundy. New passports issued to British citizens will now be blue in colour, travellers will also notice that the words ‘European Union’ have been removed from the cover.
All UK passport holders will be required to apply for an ETIAS UK visa waiver to enter the Schengen Zone once the system is launched.
What does ETIAS offer Brits visiting Europe?
British tourists in Europe from late 2022 onwards will need to be in possession of a valid passport and ETIAS for UK citizens to enter the Schengen Area.
UK citizens travelling to Europe with ETIAS can remain in the travel zone for up to 90 days in a 180-day period. The permit is multiple-entry and valid for 3 years, or until the associated passport expires, which means there is no need to reapply before each visit.
Another advantage is that ETIAS for UK citizens is valid for the entire Schengen Area. As there are no internal borders in the travel zone British citizens can visit several European countries on one trip.
British tourists will benefit from the added security of ETIAS
By pre-screening all non-EU citizens, potentially dangerous individuals can be prevented from crossing the border into Europe legally.
Travellers’ data will be automatically crosschecked across several international security databases such as the Schengen Information System (SIS), Interpol and Europol. There will also be an ETIAS watchlist containing the names of individuals considered likely to commit a serious crime.
In the rare case that there is a hit in the system, the application is processed manually by the ETIAS Central Unit and National Units. Only those individuals considered a current risk to Europe will have their ETIAS request refused.
ETIAS for UK citizens and all other non-EU nationals will make European countries even safer destinations for tourists from across the world.