EU offers Britons visa-free travel in case of no-deal

British citizens who live in the UK should be able to travel into the EU for short trips without a visa even if there is no Brexit deal, the European Commission proposed today.

The proposal, which still has to be agreed by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament (as with any new EU laws, several stages are involved), would mean British visitors could come into France and/or other Schengen zone countries for stays of up to 90 days over any 180-day period.

The alternative would be for the UK to be placed on the list of those non-EU countries whose citizens need visas from an EU country consulate before they can even come into the zone on holiday. (All non-EU country visitors need a visa to stay for more than three months.) Which list a country is on usually depends on a complex range of considerations, such as human rights in the country, how good the EU's relations are with it and the amount of visitor travel between the country and the EU.

If there is no deal this arrangement would apply as of March 30, 2019 or otherwise it would apply at the end of the planned transition period (from January 1, 2021), the Commission recommends.

The proposal is conditional on the UK also offering all EU country visitors visa-free entry for short trips, however the Commission says the UK has already said it would not require visas from EU citizens coming on short stays for tourism and business.

If adopted, the proposal would not however exempt British travellers from the stricter entry checks that may be carried out on non-EU visitors, such as the fact French border officials would be entitled to ask to see a return ticket, travel health insurance, evidence of having money for the stay and, if staying in someone’s home, an attestation from the host’s mairie.

It would also not exempt visitors from Britain from needing to apply online for Etias visa-waiver permission once this scheme comes into force in 2021.

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