Reader question: I hold British and French nationality but my wife has only British, and we are permanent French residents.
If we were to visit, say, Portugal under the EU’s incoming EES and Etias system, what will we need to do? And if we were to go with one of our adult children who live in the UK, how would they be affected?
In addition, would there be a limit on the amount of time that either one of us could spend in the UK?
The EU’s new Entry/Exit System (EES) for registering non-EU, visa-exempt visitors to the Schengen Area will gradually be phased in from September, and it will be necessary for travellers to apply for prior authorisation under the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) from early 2023.
The two systems will work in tandem, Etias being used to authorise travel while EES is employed to register the details included in applications and keep a record of the people coming in and out of the bloc.
EES/Etias will only apply to non-EU citizens who are visiting a Schengen country or countries, meaning that residents will not have to apply for permission.
This is because the EES monitoring system is designed in part to allow for an automatic calculation of the number of days a visa-exempt individual is allowed to stay in the Area, to fight against overstaying and identity fraud.
Residents are of course allowed to stay for as long as their residence permit lasts, and so they are not concerned by these security controls.
And as there is free movement within the Schengen Area, residents of Schengen countries will not need to complete Etias applications when travelling across internal borders.
Therefore, both you and your wife will be able to travel within Schengen without requiring Etias approval by dint of your French residency. Your wife’s British nationality will not affect this.
If you travel out of the Schengen Area, you will just need to be able to show proof of residency to border authorities to explain why you do not need to apply for Etias authorisation.
Some unofficial sources state that it “may” be necessary to obtain Etias approval in order to travel between Schengen countries, but a European Commission source has confirmed to The Connexion that the system only concerns non-EU visitors crossing the “external border” of the zone.
Adult children of French residents
If your adult, UK-resident children are planning on going on holiday with you to a Schengen Area country, and they do not have EU nationality, they will need to obtain Etias approval before travelling.
This is because they will be visitors entering Schengen from a non-EU but visa-exempt country.
Limits on time spent in the UK?
There will be no limit on the amount of time you can spend in the UK after EES comes in. This is partly because it will not apply to you as residents of France, but also because you remain British citizens with an “automatic right of abode in the UK.”