EU promises Brits visa-free travel after no-deal

Published:  15 Nov at 6 PM
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The European Commission has now promised visa-free entry to Britons wishing to take short trips to the EU after a no-deal Brexit.

The offer, which must still gain agreement from the EU parliament and the EU Council, would allow British citizens to visit France, Spain or any other countries in the Schengen zone and stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without needing a visa. Several stages are involved in allowing a new EU law, but it’s expected the offer will pass. Should Brexit end with a no-deal exit, the new law would apply from March 30 next year, but if a deal is reached it will come in at the end of transition period. It’s also conditional on the same arrangement for EU citizens coming to the UK, but Britain has already made it clear this is the intention.

Unfortunately, the offer does not protect UK citizens from often strict entry checks by immigration authorities at points of arrival. For example, French border officials could demand proof of a return ticket, evidence of enough money for the proposed stay, travel health insurance and, if staying with friends or family in their homes, a permission slip from the local authority might be mandatory. In addition, the offer wouldn’t exempt British travellers from the task of applying online for a visa waiver when the new EU scheme becomes law in 2021.

Should the proposed new law not pass, the alternative is the UK’s being placed on the list of non-EU states whose citizens must have a visa even if they’re simply tourists. It’s unlikely the UK would find itself on the list as the complex range of considerations necessary tends to concentrate on issues such as human rights in the home country, visitor travel between it and EU member states and the actual relationship between the EU and the traveller’s country. At the least, if the offer does go through and becomes EU law, former expats and British owners of second homes in EU member states will be allowed to visit twice a year to ensure their properties are in good repair and have several months to enjoy them. However, UK expats who need to travel more frequently in the EU on business are likely not to be helped by the prospective new law.
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