How Has Brexit Changed Travel to the EU?

Although Brexit may be settled, from a traveller’s perspective, the full consequences of what it means for our vacations are just beginning to emerge. Not even referring to the immediate issues, such as the turmoil at Dover, the lines at airport immigration, or the 90-day stay restriction in EU nations. But also the EU's new border control systems, which are scheduled to go into effect the following year, will feel quite different and much more bureaucratic.

Brexit consequences for travellers

Despite the fact that the Government secured “visa-free” trips for British tourists visiting countries like Spain, Italy, Greece, and others after Brexit, the EU is now upgrading its systems, meaning we will soon need to apply for and pay for an electronic permit before we travel. It will be necessary for any UK citizen entering the Schengen region, a border-free area that comprises the majority of member nations in addition to Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Lichtenstein, and is valid for three years. Additionally, the EU will require us to upload our fingerprints and other biometric data to a system that is accessible throughout all of Europe.

Nevertheless, this is not some horrific Brexit retaliation from Brussels. We are simply going through the difficulties that come with losing our EU membership. In reality, our country is merely one of many whose residents may enter the bloc without a visa, so we will still need to use the new system and register our biometric information.


ETIAS: The New EU Model

In essence, Brussels is adopting the American ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) system, which enables us to fly to the US without a visa. However, with the condition that we register our information and complete a questionnaire on the computerised immigration system before our trip. The new EU model is known as ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System). ETIAS will be the EU’s method of automatically verifying the credentials of travellers wishing to enter the Schengen area without a visa. It will be used for trips for leisure and business, and for stays no more than 90 days. The reason for implementing these systems is to increase border security by identifying potentially hazardous or undesired visitors. It also makes it more difficult to use fake or stolen papers.


How will the ETIAS system function once implemented?

The process will be similar to the travel restrictions and rules that were implemented during the COVID pandemic. You will have to enter some personal information (e.g., passport information, criminal record, health status, any infectious or contagious illnesses where applicable, etc.) using either the new app or the website. A cost of €7.00 will be implemented to submit an application. Once submitted, according to the EU, the majority of applications will be handled quickly.

If approved, you will be awarded a permit that, when paired with your passport, allows you to travel the EU for up to 90 days every 180-day period. It is valid for three years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. Before travelling, your ETIAS will be checked at both the border and the travel operator you will be using. The EU has advised that crossing the border without a permit, could cause significant implications and even the refusal of entrance to a Schengen member nation.

The most recent reports claim that the ETIAS will be introduced at the end of 2023. Nevertheless, the launch date has been delayed various times due to the difficult development process. Therefore, it is still uncertain when the permit will be in effect.


What is the new EU EES model?

While the ETIAS is being discussed, the EU is also implementing the EES (Entry and Exit System) model. This system will automatically verify the validity of passports and ETIAS permits of visitors from nations outside the Schengen region each time they cross an EU external border. The EES is planned to be operating in May 2023. This will replace the present method of manually stamping passports, which is the only way border agents can now check whether travellers remain within their 90-day visa-free travel restriction.

Though it may seem like it would make travelling simpler, the new systems, which will require you to register your fingerprints and a photo of your face, have raised concerns among privacy advocates. As these will subsequently be kept on the computers of the EU as biometric information.

Nonetheless, it is not unusual to monitor this way for identity and security reasons. The US borders have been taking this information from travellers for some time now. Additionally, they are needed at the UK border for various sorts of visas and for admission into China. However, a representative for the human rights organisation Privacy International voiced reservations about the procedure. While there is no obvious necessity for these regulations, they are not subject to the same level of scrutiny as a mass monitoring operation since they are considered as border security measures. Biometric systems are prone to error and misuse and deal with extremely sensitive data that might be exploited against you. They could be used to wrongly identify you and result in justice system errors. However, there will not be much you can do in reality if you wish to have a vacation in Europe.


The Current Method

Despite the fact that Britain is no longer an EU member, its people are nevertheless permitted entry without a visa (up to a maximum of 90 days in any 180-day period). At the moment, border agents manually stamp our passports to enforce that method. But once the new ETIAS and EES systems are implemented, UK citizens will have to go through a brand-new set of online checks prior to travelling.

Get in touch to discus further impacts Brexit could have on your financial affairs. As everyone’s situation is different, our financial advisers are here to help you find the right answers to your questions.