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How difficult could British-European travel be after Brexit?

Amid all of the debates that still rage about the UK’s impending departure from the European Union (EU) and its potential implications, one that has been raised again in recent days concerns what barriers UK citizens could face when travelling in continental Europe post-Brexit.

As reported by The Scotsman, the Liberal Democrats’ Brexit spokeswoman, Baroness Ludford, warned in the House of Lords that a “significant” fee may be imposed on Britons wishing to gain entry to the EU, with a potential four-day wait for approval to access mainland Europe.

“The British people should be able to choose to exit from Brexit”

Baroness Ludford commented during Oral Questions in the Lords: “All British citizen needs to do at present to go on holiday to Spain or business in Germany is to present a passport at the border.

“If we Brexit, they will have to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System), similar to a US ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation).

“The fee could become significant and it could take four days for approval. And this will require the supply of biometric data, details of health, criminal record and previous immigration history.”

She continued: “Has the Government levelled, when will it level, with the British people about how this is another example of Brexit increasing cost and red tape?

“Isn’t it another reason why the British people should be able to choose to exit from Brexit?”

Government minister hits out at “assumptions”

Representing the Government, Brexit minister Lord Callanan responded: “No it isn’t, my Lords.”

He accused Baroness Ludford of “making a whole series of assumptions in her question – none of which may turn out to be true.

“We are still to have the discussions with the EU on the future relationship in terms of how people will travel backwards and forwards, so when we’ve had those discussions, when we’ve reached a conclusion, we will be sure to let her know.”

So, what could realistically happen?

While it is widely expected that the way people travel between the UK and the EU will change when Brexit occurs on 29th March 2019, there is not yet any firm confirmation of what the arrangements will be.

An ETIAS – as cited by Baroness Ludford – is a travel document that is similar to a visa, and which costs €5. Such a way of managing travel between the UK and Europe would also see strict security checks, with some travellers potentially barred from entering the country.

The ESTA used by the US differs slightly from an ETIAS, in that British travellers are presently charged $14 (about £11) to purchase the document, which allows for up to 90 days of travel in the US. It is also required even in the case of a connecting flight where the traveller isn’t leaving the airport.

Here at Documents and Visas, we will continue to keep a close eye on visa developments as they relate to the future relationship between the UK and the EU. In the meantime, EU Schengen visas can also be applied for through our fast, professional and well-priced service.