ETIAS for British Citizens: Despite leaving the European Union in January 2020, the United Kingdom maintains a robust and cordial relationship with the bloc. Under the EU’s current regulations, British citizens who want to take a brief trip to any EU country or travel within the region do not need a visa or any other prior authorization. Visa-free stays of up to 90 days per 180 days are permitted for British passport holders in the EU.
However, Brits will soon need to get an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorization System) document before entering any EU/Schengen country. The ETIAS program, which is an electronic travel document, will launch in 2024. An ETIAS authorization will be required for short term visits of 90 days or less for British travelers to the EU.
In this guide, we will provide an in-depth explanation of the new ETIAS as well as answers to other pertinent questions pertaining to European travel for British citizens that have to do with ETIAS.
What is ETIAS?
ETIAS is a form of electronic travel authorization or visa waiver that allows for pre-arrival screening of travelers from countries including the UK who do not need a visa to enter the EU. The system will maintain a record of everyone who travels to and from the EU.
ETIAS is not the same as the Schengen visa. The main purpose of the ETIAS scheme is to identify potential threats to security, public health, or migration posed by visa-exempt travelers in an effort to increase security, safety, and border control in Schengen territories. Before traveling to any EU member state, visitors will have to register online and receive approval. The ETIAS document is for short-term (90 days or less) tourism, medical, or business trips within a 180-day period.
The UK has been categorized as a third country since Brexit, which put an end to the UK’s membership in the EU and free movement between the UK and the EU. And as a result, when the scheme is fully in place in 2024, citizens of the UK will need to get an ETIAS travel document to be allowed into EU territories.
How ETIAS works
ETIAS will function in a manner that is similar to that of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in the United States as well as the UK’s proposed new Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) scheme.
When an application for ETIAS is approved, it is electronically linked to the traveler’s passport. To travel to Schengen, travelers must use the same passport they used to complete the ETIAS application. Those who hold dual citizenship should be aware of this necessity.
When entering the Schengen Area, you need to present your ETIAS-linked passport to immigration officials, along with other documents such as hotel reservations, an invitation letter, and proof of financial means to stay in Europe. Your passport will be scanned to confirm you have a valid ETIAS authorization.
The ETIAS authorization is valid for three years from the date of issue, during which time holders can enter the EU multiple times for 90 days in a 180-day period. To stay in the Schengen Area for more than 3 months, you need a visa or another type of permit.
ETIAS document holders may visit EU countries for the following purposes:
- Studying a short course
- Attend meetings and conferences.
- Medical treatment
How to get ETIAS for UK Citizens
To obtain the ETIAS travel authorization, UK citizens do not need to apply in person at any EU country’s embassy or consulate. The ETIAS application process is entirely online, via the designated website (which will be launched once ETIAS is operational).
ETIAS requirements For UK Citizens:
Before you start your application, UK citizens need the following things:
A valid passport:
Your passport must be valid for at least three months after leaving the Schengen area. On the same page as your biometric information, your passport must also have a section that can be read by a machine.
When you fill out the ETIAS application form, you will need to provide a valid email address. This email address will be used by the system to let you know about the status of your application and other important information.
You will need to give information like the first country you plan to visit, how long you plan to stay, your flight tickets, where you will be staying, and any other information that is important for your entry into Schengen.
Debit card or credit card:
Paying the fee is the last step in the ETIAS application process. To pay the application fee, you will need a debit or credit card.
Filling out the ETIAS online application form:
UK citizens will need to give the following information as part of their ETIAS application:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Your parents’ information
- Your UK passport details (number, issues/expiry date)
- Current address
- Telephone number
- Email address
- Current occupation
- The first Schengen country you will enter
- Additional information: Details about previous trips to Europe, including whether you have ever been ordered to leave the territory of any country
- Medical condition
- Criminal history
- Any past visits to war or conflict zones
It will take you ten minutes to fill out the form. All of the information you give must be accurate and correspond with what is on your passport. If there are mistakes or missing information, your application could be delayed or even rejected.
ETIAS application processing time for UK citizens
ETIAS applications will be processed manually. Most requests are granted within 96 hours (4 days). But some applicants may be asked by national authorities to provide more information or paperwork. In this case, it could take up to two weeks or longer. The applicant will be emailed a list of the additional documents that must be submitted.
UK citizens who do not have another form of travel authorization and are still awaiting a decision on their ETIAS application will be denied entry into the EU. To avoid complications, you should apply for ETIAS in advance of your trip.
How much does ETIAS cost for UK citizens?
The fee for an ETIAS is €7 (equivalent to £6) for anyone between the ages of 18 and 70. Those under the age of 18 and those who are 70 or older will not be charged for their ETIAS. Either a credit card or a debit card can be used to make a payment.
The application fee is non-refundable if your application is unsuccessful.
When will UK citizens need ETIAS to visit Europe?
From 2024 onward, UK citizens will need an ETIAS to enter Europe. Keep in mind that the ETIAS is not the same as a visa. It will only take you a short while to fill out an online application and wait for approval. Before the ETIAS requirements take effect next year, Brits can freely travel to Schengen countries with only a passport.
Which countries require an ETIAS for UK citizens?
British citizens will need an ETIAS to visit all thirty (30) EU Schengen member states. This list of countries includes:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
UK travelers will not need ETIAS authorization to enter other European countries that are not part of the EU. These countries include: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, North Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Turkey, and Ukraine.
Can UK citizens enter any EU country with an ETIAS authorization?
Yes. With an ETIAS endorsement, you can visit any of the countries listed above. You must enter through the first country you listed on your application, so keep that in mind. After entering your first country, you have 90 days to visit any other country in the Schengen Zone.
For example, suppose you planned to visit Portugal and Spain, and in your application you indicated that Portugal would be the first place you would go. If that’s the case, you must first visit Portugal before going to Spain or any other EU country.
What paperwork do UK citizens need when visiting Schengen?
When visiting Schengen territories, British citizens will need the following paperwork:
- Your British passport (it should be valid for at least three months beyond your intended date of departure from the Schengen area)
- ETIAS Authorization (starting from 2024)
- Proof of accommodation
- Proof of sufficient funds to support yourself during your entire stay in Europe
How long are UK citizens allowed to stay in Europe with an ETIAS?
With an ETIAS, UK citizens can stay in Europe for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period.
What is Schengen’s 90/180-day rule?
Basically, the 90/180-day rule means your total stay in the Schengen area must be no more than 90 days in every 180 days. Your 90 days start on the first day you enter any Schengen country and stop on the date you leave the area.
But you do not have to stay for 90 consecutive days because the visa waiver agreement allows visitors to travel in and out of Schengen as many times as they want in accordance with the 90/180-day rule.
The 180 days are counted as a rolling period, which you can count backwards from the date you entered or left Schengen. So, to confirm your stay, count back 180 days from your last trip to Schengen and see how many of those days you were in the Schengen region.
The official Europa.eu website features an easy-to-use calculator (https://ec.europa.eu/assets/home/visa-calculator/calculator.htm?lang=en) that you can use to determine the total number of stays you have accumulated.
What happens if you overstay the 90 days allowed in the Schengen Area?
If you violate the Schengen 90/180 day rule by overstaying your 90 days, you may face a fine, immediate deportation, or even be banned from entering the Schengen Area for a while.
Can UK citizens work in Europe with an ETIAS?
No, the ETIAS authorization does not permit citizens of the UK to work in Europe. The ETIAS is just a short-term entry permit for tourism, vacations, business trips, and other similar trips. If you want to work in Europe, you have to get a work permit from the EU country where you want to work.
Can UK citizens study in Europe with an ETIAS?
Yes, for a short course within 90 days. If you want to enroll in a long-term educational program in Europe, you must obtain a student visa from the EU country where you want to study.
Do minors require an ETIAS?
Yes. ETIAS is required for all travelers, including children under the age of 18. The form can be filled out on their behalf by a parent or legal guardian, as long as proof of guardianship is shown.
Don’t forget that children under 18 don’t have to pay the ETIAS application fee.
How many years is an approved ETIAS valid for?
An approved ETIAS authorization is valid for three years from the date of issuance. Your ETIAS will expire if your British passport expires prior to the three-year validity period. If you get a new passport, you’ll have to reapply for ETIAS.
Can UK citizens enter Schengen multiple times with an approved ETIAS?
Yes. British citizens who already have ETIAS travel authorization do not need to submit a new application before each trip they take to a Schengen country. During the three years that the ETIAS is valid, travelers are allowed multiple entries into the EU.
Will a valid ETIAS guarantee my entry to Shengchen?
Just because you have ETIAS does not necessarily guarantee entry into Schengen countries. With a valid ETIAS authorization, you can board your carrier, such as a plane or ship, and travel to any EU country. However, the decision to admit you into the region rests with the border patrol. If you fail a border check or fail to meet other entry requirements, you may be denied entry.
Do I Need ETIAS If I Already Have A Visa / Residence Permit?
No. If you hold a valid visa or residence permit issued by one of the EU member states, you do not require an ETIAS travel authorization.
Temporary residents of the UK from countries with which the EU has a visa requirement are not eligible to apply for an ETIAS, even though they live in the UK. Instead, they will need to apply for a standard Schengen visa.