Is the U.K. part of the Schengen Area?
Does Brexit mean the U.K. is not in the Schengen Area?
Britain was never a member of the Schengen Area of borderless travel but British citizens did have the right to freedom of movement within the EU when the country was a member. This ended when the country formally left the European Union (EU) at the end of 2020. As a result, there have been some changes to U.K. nationals’ ability to travel to the EU, especially for longer visits to European countries.
Do U.K. citizens need visas to visit Europe after Brexit?
British passport holders do not need a visa to visit Schengen countries for short trips after Brexit. Although Britain has formally left the EU, the U.K. and EU have come to a visa-free travel arrangement, meaning if you plan on staying for fewer than 90 days, you will not require a visa. From 2023, you will need to apply for ETIAS authorization, which will allow you to visit the Schengen Area without the need for a visa, even though the U.K. has left the EU. The system is expected to be in operation by the end of 2022- but will not be mandatory until 2023.
Until then, you will be able to travel to EU states using your passport, although there may be longer waits at passport control as U.K. nationals can no longer use the terminals reserved for EU citizens.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS will be an electronic system that keeps track of visitors to the Schengen Area who do not require a visa. When ETIAS is up and running, British nationals will be required to complete an online form including questions on health, employment, and criminal convictions in order to visit EU countries. There will also be a fee of €7 (£6/$8) that will buy you a permit valid for three years. On arrival, you will have the data you submitted verified, your picture and fingerprints taken, and be asked several questions about your visit, according to a European Union briefing paper.
Will I be able to stay longer now Britain is outside the EU?
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 the Schengen Area but not consecutively, and you would have to break up your stays by spending time outside the 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.
Are U.K. passports stamped in Schengen countries after Brexit?
Any U.K. citizen entering the Schengen Area will now need to receive a stamp at passport control when they enter or leave. You will need to check you have received the right stamps or officials may attempt to bar you from a country as they may assume you have overstayed.
Can I still work or study in the EU after Brexit?
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.
The criteria for these types of visas will vary as they are dealt with on a country-by-country basis, rather than at the EU level, but generally, to receive a work visa you will require an employment contract, a current bank statement, and an income tax return. As a student, you will need proof of enrolment at an educational institution, and preferably a no objection letter from your current institution authorizing your study. You will need to prove you have an offer to work or study and means to support yourself during your stay - the criteria for this will also vary from state to state. If you are remaining in your host country for a lengthy period of time or planning to base yourself there you will likely also need to apply for a residency permit.
If you wish to study in Europe, please also read our article on ERASMUS to help prepare your project.
If I need a visa, where do I apply after Brexit?
You will need to apply at the embassy or consulate of the country where you plan to spend most of your visit. However, for many countries, you will not apply to the embassy but via a third-party visa application center that acts on its behalf for the initial stages of visa processing, such as checking supporting documents and the collection of biometric data. For example, the firm VFS Global handles visa applications on behalf of Italy, while TLScontact does so for France. You can fill in your visa application form via their websites.
Do I need to obtain travel and medical insurance when traveling to the Schengen Area?
If you are traveling to Europe as a U.K. citizen, you will not automatically require Schengen travel insurance when applying to ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) or traveling visa-free. The U.K.’s reciprocal arrangement allows British citizens to access free healthcare in the EU using a valid European Health Insurance Card or the new U.K. Global Health insurance card, which replicates the benefits of the EHIC’s (European Health Insurance Card). It is important to state, however, that although the GHIC and EHIC will cover you for “necessary healthcare”, not all treatments are covered under the scheme for free, with some countries requiring co-payments or refundable fees, as well as cash to cover prescription costs.
EHIC and GHIC do not cover any private medical healthcare costs, repatriation or additional costs such as mountain rescue in ski resorts
Have any other rules changed after Brexit?
You are not able to travel with products of an animal origin such as meat, milk, or products containing them into EU countries, with the exception of infant milk, infant food, or special processed pet feed, without the proper customs declarations and forms. Business travelers such as musicians wishing to temporarily move goods between the U.K. and EU for business purposes will also need to comply with new customs rules.
If you wish to take your pet to the EU you will need to obtain an animal health certificate (AHC) first. The AHC confirms that your pet is microchipped and vaccinated against rabies.
What travel insurance products do AXA offer?
AXA’s Low Cost Travel Insurance costs only 22€ (24$) 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 €328 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 27 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 is not in either group as of 2021.
How will U.K. citizens travel to Europe after Brexit?
U.K. citizens will still be able to travel to the EU after Brexit due to the visa-free arrangement - so there will be little difference in travel for tourists. However there may be longer queues at passport control due to Britons no longer being able to join EU travelers.
Where can British citizens live after Brexit?
Britons will still be able to live in the Schengen Area - but will no longer have an automatic right to do so. As such, they should comply with the local immigration rules of the country they would like to live in, like providing proof of employment or assets.