The European Commission has confirmed that UK citizens will be permitted to travel to European countries after Brexit without a visa, provided they hold a valid ‘ETIAS’.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS (EU Travel Information and Authorisation System) is an electronic document for non-EU travellers visiting EU countries without a visa. It confirms the holder has undergone an initial security pre-screening process and covers includes travel of up to 90 days for reasons of tourism, business, transit or medical purposes.
Within the Schengen zone, nationals from specific non-EU countries can travel anywhere in the EU zone visa-free and without border checks, for a maximum period of 90 days.
ETIAS is being introduced by the European Commission as a mandatory prerequisite to EU travel for individuals from these countries, including Australia, the US and the UK.
The current EU visa application and screening procedures for entering the Schengen area depend only upon the citizenship of the visitor and are cost-free.
The US currently operates a similar scheme, the ESTA.
Who needs an ETIAS?
All UK nationals travelling to and through countries in the EU will need to apply fo ETIAS after the Brexit implementation period ends.
How much does the application cost?
An application under ETIAS will cost £6.30 for travellers between the ages of 18 and 70.
How long is it valid for?
Travel authorisation under ETIAS lasts up to three years. This permits unlimited, eligible travel of up to 90 days in any 180 day period for permissible activities.
You will then need to reapply and pay the relevant fee.
How do I apply for an ETIAS?
The application will be an online form. It’s expected to take around 10 minutes to complete, with details such as passport information, criminal convictions, medical conditions and other background questions to be answered.
When do I find out if I have been successful?
In most cases, you should expect to find out straightaway if your application has been granted or refused.
Exceptional or more complex applications may result in a delayed decision of up to four weeks.
When will I need to apply?
The new system is not expected to go live until after the ‘implementation period’ ends in December 2020.
Until this time, UK citizens can continue to travel to and through EU countries freely with a passport or identity card.
After 2021, UK nationals are not expected to require a visa to visit EU countries, but they will need a valid ETIAS.
Is ETIAS a visa?
No, it is a vetting procedure that will result in a document being issued to the holder confirming their status. ETIAS is not however a visa. Travel for purposes other than those eligible e.g. short-stay tourism, business, transit and medical treatment, will still require the relevant visa to be applied for.
Do I need an ETIAS if I have an Irish passport?
Republic of Ireland passport holders will not be affected by changes to UK citizens’ rights in Europe and will retain visa-free travel benefits after Brexit.
Most Northern Ireland citizens are entitled to apply for an Irish passport and recent figures have shown increasing numbers of UK nationals have been applying for an Irish passport by virtue of parents or grandparents that were born in Ireland.
Which countries are in the Schengen zone?
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Which countries other than the UK will be affected?
Under current rules, nationals from the following countries do not require visas to visit countries in the Schengen area:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Brunei Darussalam
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Macedonia, Former Yugoslav
- Marshall Islands
- Republic of Moldova
- New Zealand
- Solomon Islands
- South Korea
- Saint Kitts and Nevis
- Saint Lucia
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United States of America