What are the effects of Brexit on those traveling to the Schengen Area from the U.K.?

I live in the U.K., will Brexit mean I need to apply for a visa to visit the Schengen Area?

Although Britain formally left the European Union in January 2020, it is still in a transitional phase until January 2021, with elements of its future relationship still to be decided. However, important provisions regarding travel to the Schengen Area have been outlined. During the transition, Brits maintain the movement rights they held as a member of the European Union - with changes taking place after exit in 2021.


British citizens, who previously had freedom of movement to travel to the EU, will initially be visa-exempt third-country nationals that do not need to apply in advance for a short-stay Schengen Visa. However, they will be covered under the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System system when this is introduced sometime before the end of 2021. ETIAS is similar to America’s ESTA scheme and Brits will be required to complete an online form including questions on health, employment, and criminal convictions in order to visit EU countries. There’s also a fee of €7 that will buy you a permit valid for three years. On arrival you will have the data you submitted verified, your picture and fingerprint taken, and be asked several questions about your visit, according to a European Union briefing paper. It is important to state, however, that these arrangements have not been finalized in law, and although unlikely, may be subject to change.


Those who are not U.K. citizens will maintain the existing status they have as a result of nationals of their home states - so those from states who require a visa to travel to the Schengen Area such as China or India will still require one, while those with visa-free arrangements will maintain those.


How long will I be able to stay in the Schengen Area?

U.K. nationals will be subject to the same 90-day rule travelers of countries outside the EU are subject to. This means you can stay within the Schengen Area for 90 days out of every 180, but after that, you must either apply for residency or a work or study visa. Over a year you could spend 180 days in total in Spain but not consecutively, and you would have to break up your stays by spending time outside the Schengen Area. You can fill your 90 days as one block or as several shorter trips, but in every 180 days, the total number of days spent in the Schengen Area must not exceed 90.


How will Brexit affect those applying for work or student visas?

As Brexit will mean Britain is no longer a member of the EU, British citizens will no longer have an automatic right to work and study in other EU member states, including the Schengen Area. As such, you will need to apply for a work or study visa, obtaining the necessary documentation such as an invitation letter and proof of accommodation, in addition to submitting your passport and biometric data.


Do I need to obtain travel and medical insurance when traveling to the Schengen Area?

If you are traveling to the Schengen Area as a U.K. citizen, you will not automatically require travel insurance when applying to ETIAS or traveling visa-free. However, it is strongly recommended as the U.K.’s reciprocal arrangements allowing British citizens to access free healthcare in the EU using a European Health Insurance Card may come to an end unless a new post-Brexit agreement is reached.


What travel insurance products do AXA offer?

AXA’s Low Cost Travel Insurance costs only €0.99 per day of your trip and will meet your visa requirements, while the AXA Schengen Europe Travel Insurance offers extended coverage up to costs of €100,000. Those seeking a multiple-entry visa to make more than one trip can purchase the Multi Trip insurance from €298 per year, which again covers you for expenses up to €100,000.


Frequently asked questions about how Brexit will affect travel from Britain to the Schengen Area

Is the European Union the same as the Schengen Area?

No. After Brexit, the EU consists of 27 member states, while the Schengen Area contains 26 countries, not all of whom are in the EU. Ireland is not in the Schengen Area, while Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein are all in the Schengen Area, but not in the EU. Britain will not be in either group from 2021.


What is ETIAS?

ETIAS is the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, the new form of travel authorization intended for short-term tourist or business visitors from countries with visa-free travel arrangements with the Schengen Area. It will be in place by the end of 2021.


From the U.K, will I need to apply for ETIAS approval for each country I visit?

No, only one approved ETIAS is required per traveler to visit all ETIAS member countries - and this can be valid for up to three years.