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13 Nov 2018

EU Proposes Visa-Free Entry for UK Citizens traveling to EU for short stays – Conditions UK to Reciprocate Policy

EU Proposes Visa-Free Entry for UK Citizens traveling to EU for short stays - Conditions UK to Reciprocate PolicyUK passport holders will not need to get short-stay visas before heading to any of the Schengen member states upon Brexit, if the UK does not impose short stay visa requirements on EU citizens either.

During a meeting in Strasbourg today, the European Commission has proposed to place UK nationals under the list of visa-exempt third-country nationals, after March 29, 2019, when the United Kingdom finally leaves the European Union. However, the proposal conditions the UK authorities to grant all EU nationals with reciprocal and non-discriminatory visa-free travel to the UK.

According to a press release of the European Commission, the UK government has declared its intention not to require a visa from citizens of the 27 EU Member States for shorts stays for the purposes of tourism and business.

“In the scenario where the UK leaves the EU without a deal, this would apply as of 30 March 2019. If a deal is reached, however, it would apply as of the end of the transition period, as outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement. This follows the Commission’s continued commitment that citizens’ rights must come first in the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU,” the release reads.

Now the proposal needs to be adopted by the European Parliament and the European Council as well. The EU Commission calls on both to undertake the necessary steps as soon as possible, in order for the proposal to be adopted at least before March 30, next year.

Previously in October, an EU Draft Agenda showed that the EC would discuss in today’s meeting the issue of UK nationals traveling to UK post-Brexit. A French government bill pointing out that in case of a no-deal Brexit, Britons would become third country nationals was published about the same time. The bill sparked more doubts that UK nationals could become subject to the Schengen visa regime.

However, according to today’s proposal UK citizens will not need a Schengen visa to EU. Still, starting January 2021, all UK citizens will have to obtain a travel authorization prior to their trip to the Schengen Area. This authorization, named European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS), will cost them €7.

The UK government has recently started preparing Britons for all possible scenarios, including a no-deal Brexit. According to a recent notice, the UK government warns its citizens that upon March 29, 2019, all British passports will need to meet some criteria as set by the EU states, which are:

  • Every passport must have been issued within the last ten years
  • Every must have a minimum of 3 months validity beyond planned stay in the Schengen zone

The notice also recommends to British travelers to EU member countries that are not part of the Schengen area, to check the entry requirements for those countries specifically.

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