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

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.

I live in the U.K., what will Brexit mean for me if I want to travel to Europe ?

Britain formally left the European Union in 2020, with transitional arrangements coming to an end at the close of the year. 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.


Although Britain has formally left the European Union (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 Schengen visa. From 2022 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 exact dates on when ETIAS will be mandatory have not been announced, but EU officials have said it will be by the end of that year. 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.


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.


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 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.

If you wish to study in Europe, please also read our article on ERASMUS to help prepare your project.


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.


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.


Where do I apply for my visa, if I need one?

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. It is advisable to take out travel and medical insurance.


Is there anything else travelers should note?

Yes. You will not be 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, while 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.


What travel insurance products do AXA offer?

AXA’s Low Cost Travel Insurance costs only €0.99 ($1.11) 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 is not in either group as of 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 2022.

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.