The Brexit vote has brought plenty of uncertainty about the future to British citizens, especially regarding the future of travel to the European Union from the UK. Further doubt was cast when the European Commission announced it would be implementing the new ETIAS authorization system for travel to France and the rest of the Schengen Area. Now, the question that everyone wants to be answered is: will British citizens need a visa to travel to Europe after Brexit separation from the EU takes place?
Do British Citizens Need a Visa to Travel to Europe?
The United Kingdom is currently part of the European Union, which allows for free movement for all its citizens within EU borders. This means that British citizens with valid passports can travel to Europe visa-free, simply by showing their passport at border control. If coming by air, UK nationals are required to provide some basic information as well as their passport upon arrival.
Once the UK stops being a part of the European Union, British citizens will not be afforded the same kind of free movement around the EU. However, the European Commision has said that a visa for British citizens will not be required for short stays in the European Union.
Although UK citizens may be exempt from a visa after Brexit, ETIAS travel authorization for British citizens visiting any Schengen Area countries will be required, once it is implemented.
What is the ETIAS Authorization for UK Citizens?
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is the name given to the new shared ETIAS system for Schengen countries, including France, proposed by the European Commission in 2016 and expected to be implemented from the end of 2022. Travelers to the EU from over 60 countries will need to apply for ETIAS when it comes into effect.
The ETIAS France visa waiver system is being implemented in order to strengthen border security within the free-movement Schengen Area, in response to the rise of terrorism and other security threats in Europe. It will be modeled on existing automated travel authorization systems, such as the United States ESTA and the ETA for Australia and aims to tighten immigration controls for Europe by pre-identifying public safety risks before foreign visitors travel to Europe.
The France ETIAS for UK citizens will gather information from applicants which will then be pre-screened against various European databases managed by the eu-LISA information agency, including SIS, VIS, Interpol and Europol. This will allow high-risk travelers to be flagged before they can arrive in the Schengen Area.
While British citizens will not be required to apply for a UK visa for the Schengen Area, it will be obligatory for UK citizens to complete a France ETIAS online application before travel. Applicants for the France ETIAS for British citizens will have to complete an online form with personal information and passport details, as well as answer a series of security questions. It will also be required to pay the ETIAS for UK citizens fee using a debit or credit card.
The fast and simple ETIAS for UK citizens application will only take minutes to complete, and the approved ETIAS France authorization, which will electronically be connected to the traveler’s passport, should also be confirmed within a few minutes.
The France ETIAS for British citizens will be valid for a total of 3 years and allow a stay of 90 days in any Schengen Area country within a 180-day period.
When Will ETIAS Be Implemented for British Citizens?
Although the authorization requirements for UK citizens traveling to the Schengen Area after Brexit has yet to be finalized, some certainties are starting to emerge.
The British government has announced it intends to allow European Union passport holders visa-free travel to the UK for short stays of tourism or business. In return, the European Commission has recommended putting the UK on the list of visa-exempt countries for the European Union after Brexit, as long as the UK continues to allow visa-free travel for European citizens.
However, the European Commision has also stated that after the UK leaves the EU, travel rules for non-EU nationals will apply to British citizens coming to the EU. So, although a visa will not be required for short stays, the ETIAS visa waiver for UK citizens will be required for stays up to 90 days in any Schengen country.
As Britain is due to leave the European Union after the Brexit separation in March 2019 and the ETIAS travel authorization should come into effect in late 2022, it’s expected that British nationals will be required to complete an ETIAS for UK citizens application before travel to the Schengen Area, when it is available.