Britons will have to pay €7 (£6.30) every three years to travel to EU countries, as a consequence of Brexit.
The European Commission has confirmed that while UK travellers will not need a visa, they will need to apply for and buy another document.
It is called an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), a completely electronic system which allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. In a way, it resembles the U.S Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which serves a similar purpose. The legal procedures to pass the ETIAS have started in 2016, and the system is expected to be in place by 2021.
The ETIAS will undergo a detailed security check of each applicant to determine whether they can be allowed to enter any Schengen Zone country. Since citizens of countries who do not need a visa for travel purposes of up to 90 days in the EU do not need to go through a long process of applying for the visa, the ETIAS will make sure that these people are not a security threat. This travel authorization system will gather, keep track of, and update necessary information regarding visitors to determine whether it is safe for them to enter Schengen countries.
The travel requirement is not just for the UK but for many non-EU countries.
Citizens of EU countries – which currently includes British people – are able to travel anywhere in the EU.
But anyone from a non-EU country has to apply for a visa – unless they are from a special list of 61 countries, which also includes the US, Japan and Australia.
Nationals from these 61 countries can travel within the EU’s Schengen zone – the area where people can travel without border checks – for up to 90 days without a visa.
However, because of the migrant crisis and security concerns over terrorism, the EU has decided to bring in more controls over the countries on this special list.
So it is introducing the ETIAS – an electronic application form – which is Europe’s version of the United States’ $14 ESTA, although as the EU Commission points out, it is “way cheaper”.
What will UK travellers to the EU have to do?
Under the Brexit deal, EU citizens and UK nationals will continue to be able to travel freely with a passport or identity card until the end of the transition period in 2020.
After this period ends, the European Commission has offered visa-free travel for UK nationals coming to the EU for a short stay, as long as the UK offers the same in return.
But although they do not need a visa, UK nationals will need an ETIAS – deal or no deal.
The form – which the EU describes as a “necessary and small procedural step” – will take no more than 10 minutes and anyone between the ages of 18 and 70 must pay the fee, the EU says.
The details needed for the application form will include passport information as well as background questions about criminal records or medical conditions.
Most people will find out if their application has been successful within minutes, the EU says, with more than 95% of applications approved automatically.
Applications can also be denied or take up to four weeks to process.
If successful, the ETIAS will last for three years and allow an unlimited number of entries. The document will be checked by border guards when crossing the EU border.