Do British Citizens Need a Visa for Europe?
By the end of 2021, the European Travel Information and Authority System (ETIAS) will go into effect.
The ETIAS is a waiver program that will allow citizens with valid passports from over 60 countries (including the United Kingdom) to apply for visa-free entry into the Schengen Area. It is important to remember that although UK travelers will not require a visa, they will be required to make arrangements with European authorities with sufficient time before traveling.
Once approved, ETIAS waiver holders from the United Kingdom will be eligible to stay within the Schengen Area, visiting as many countries as they please, for up to 90 days within 180 days. Note: An ETIAS is valid for multiple entries as long as 90 days of stay within the Schengen Area has not been exceeded over a period of 180 days.
The ETIAS waiver application can be completed online unlike typical visa applications, which need to be completed in person at a consulate or embassy. It should take no more than ten minutes to complete and is designed to be as straightforward as possible.
ETIAS Requirements for UK Citizens
UK Citizens are eligible to apply for the ETIAS waiver for travel to the Schengen Area. Below, UK ETIAS applicants can find a list of requirements that each traveler must have:
- A valid United Kingdom (or other ETIAS approved country) passport. The passport must have a minimum of three months validity remaining from the date of arrival
- A credit or debit card, which will be used to pay for the ETIAS application fee for UK citizens
- An active email address so that the decision on whether the waiver has been granted can be communicated
It is imperative that each traveler completes the ETIAS application form accurately and truthfully.
The ETIAS Application Process for UK Citizens
The ETIAS application for UK travelers will be completed entirely online. This means that travelers will not need to be in the United Kingdom when they are applying for the visa waiver. Although the ETIAS application is designed to be completed quickly and simply, it is critical to enter all personal information deliberately, as an error, even an errant keyboard strike, could result in a delay or in the outright rejection of the waiver.
In addition to paying the ETIAS fee by credit or debit card, UK nationals applying for the ETIAS visa waiver will need to provide the following information:
- Personal information that will include the traveler’s full name, their date and place of birth, and their gender
- Contact details including current address, email address, and phone number
- Passport details including the passport number and country of issue, the date of issue, and the date of expiration
- Travel plans such as which country travelers will enter and which other countries they intend on visiting
In addition to the information mentioned above, travelers may also be required to provide answers to further questions dealing with health and security.
If the ETIAS application is accepted, the applicant will receive an email.
Although European authorities anticipate an ETIAS waiver acceptance rate of around 95%, the possibility remains that an application may be denied. In such cases, the applicant will receive justification for the rejection via email, and will then have the right to appeal the decision. All appeals will be made directly to the individual Schengen member-country that the traveler intends to initially enter, and will be handled according to the individual laws of that country.
It is important to remember that prior to departure for the Schengen Area UK travelers will need to print out a hard copy of the accepted ETIAS waiver as it may be required to present to transport authorities. European border authorities will also verify the validity of the waiver upon arrival.
Why the Need for ETIAS?
As it currently stands, UK nationals are not required to have a visa or a waiver before entering the Schengen Area. For those travelers wondering why the European authorities are adopting a stricter policy, the answer is safety.
In November 2016, the European Commission voted to implement the ETIAS program following a rise in the number of terrorist attacks across the continent. Authorities believe that the waiver system will be an efficient and secure way to screen travelers. Although it may appear to some to be an unnecessary inconvenience, the ETIAS will ultimately ensure a safer Europe for all of its citizens as well as its visitors.