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EUROPEAN UNION

Britons and other non-EU travellers face €7 fee to enter Europe for visits

British nationals as well as all other visa-exempt non-EU citizens will have to get authorisation and pay a €7 fee to enter the Schengen zone when new rules come in to force before the end of 2022, the European commission confirmed on Tuesday.

Britons and other non-EU travellers face €7 fee to enter Europe for visits
Britons and other non-EU travellers face €7 fee to enter Europe for visits (Photo by STEFANIE LOOS / AFP)

The move is part of the Commission’s plans for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) – and will affect all visitors coming from visa-exempt countries – like the UK, the US and Canada – who want to travel to EU states like France, Germany, Spain and Italy.  

“Once ETIAS is in place, non-EU citizens travelling to the Schengen area who are exempt from the visa requirement will need to register and obtain an authorisation before travelling,” said the Commission in a press release.

“The system will cross-check travellers against EU information systems for internal security, borders and migration before their trip, helping to identify ahead of time people who may pose a risk to security or health, as well as compliance with migration rules.”

The move is part of the EU’s phasing-in plan for external border management with the ETIAS system aimed at boosting security to prevent crime and terrorism as well control migration.

Travellers affected will have to fill in an online application form which will have to be approved. 

The Commission said on Tuesday the “vast majority of cases (expected to be over 95%) will result in automatic approval”.

“In limited cases, where further checks on the traveller are needed, the issuing of the travel authorisation could take up to 30 days,” the EU Commission says

The ETIAS authorisation will be a €7 one-off fee, and will be valid for three years as well as for multiple entries into Schengen states during that time. 

Applicants will be able to apply via an official website and/or app for mobile devices, the Commissions says.

Which countries are affected?

In general, visas are required for entry to EU countries for non-EU nationals. 

But a visa is not needed for visits of up to 90 days in an 180‑day period for nationals of countries for which the European Community has abolished the visa requirement. That includes the UK, the US, Canada and Australia, among others. 

At the moment for instance, British passport holders who do not hold a residence title in an EU country, can enter Europe for short visits and tourist trips without having to pay a fee or organise a visa – although Covid restrictions have made travel a lot trickier. 

The EU Commission said the ETIAS will not change “which non-EU countries are subject to a visa requirement and will also not introduce a new visa requirement for nationals of countries that are visa-exempt”.

When will it happen?

We haven’t got an exact date yet but the EU Commission says it will happen by the end of 2022. 

The date from which travellers will be able to apply will be published on this site.

According to the EU “ETIAS will be a largely automated IT system created to identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen States, whilst at the same time facilitate crossing borders for the vast majority of travellers who do not pose such risks.”

Member comments

    1. It’s to “identify security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors”.
      Funny how “high epidemic risks” has now been added in.
      The ETIAS tax-raising data-gathering idea has been in existence, long before Covid. So the excuse du jour, which was formerly “health and safety” and then “security” and now “Covid” for everything, has now been added in.

      So it’s a visa.
      If you want a visa then make it a visa.

    2. When the USA started requiring ESTA approvals for the EU, the EU warned that they would reciprocate. That is ETIAS. The rest of the world is incidental to this.

  1. If UK reciprocates, will that mean those arriving from France by dinghy ( without a pre-visa visa ) can be returned ?

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TRAVEL NEWS

How Brexit and Covid have derailed Eurostar services between France and UK

The French boss of Eurostar has laid out how the combination of the pandemic, Brexit and ongoing uncertainty over new EU travel rules have left the company in a very precarious position.

How Brexit and Covid have derailed Eurostar services between France and UK

The Eurostar CEO Jacques Damas has laid out the company’s woes in a long letter to British MPs, stating that as things stand “Eurostar cannot currently pursue a strategy of volume and growth. We are having to focus on our core routes . . . and to charge higher prices to customers”.

He said that two things have significantly damaged the company – the pandemic (worsened by the fact that the company received no state aid from the UK government) and Brexit which has made travel between France and the UK considerably more complicated with more checks required at stations.

Damas said that peak capacity at both London St Pancras and Paris Gare du Nord is 30 percent less than it was pre-Brexit, because of the increased infrastructure needed to check and stamp the passports of travellers.

He said: “Even with all booths manned, St Pancras can only process a maximum of 1,500 passengers per hour, against 2,200 in 2019.

“It is only the fact that Eurostar has capacity-limited trains and significantly reduced its timetable from 2019 levels, that we are not seeing daily queues in the centre of London similar to those experienced in the Channel ports.

“This situation has obvious commercial consequences and is not sustainable in the mid to long-term.”

He added that the increased passport checks and stamping needed since Brexit adds at least 15 seconds to each passenger’s processing time, and that automated passport gates are less efficient.

The other factor that has hit the company hard was the pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions, leading to revenues being cut by 95 percent for 15 months.

The London-based company struggled to access government financial aid due to its ownership structure, with both the British and French governments reluctant to assume sole responsibility for bailing out the company.

It began as a joint venture between the British and French governments, but then the British sold off its share to private investors.

Damas said: “Contrary to the £7 billion in state aid given to our airline competitors, Eurostar did not receive any state-backed loans”. 

By May 2021 the company was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and was eventually bailed out to the tune of €290 million in loans and shareholder-guaranteed loans and equity – although this saved the company it has now left it with huge debts to be repaid.

The CEO’s letter was responding to questions from British MPs on the Transport Select Committee who wanted to know when trains would again stop at Ashford station – which has been closed since March 2020. Damas said there was no immediate prospect of that, or of reinstating the route to Disneyland Paris, while the company grapples with these financial problems.

He added that there is also “considerable uncertainty” around the new EU travel systems known as the EES and ETIAS, which are due to come into effect in 2023 and which will require extra checking of passports at the EU’s external borders – such as the UK/France border. 

READ ALSO Fears of ‘massive travel disruption’ in 2023

Many Eurostar passengers have commented recently on increased ticket prices, and it seems that there is little immediate prospect of prices going back down to 2019 levels. 

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