British travellers won’t need visas for short visits to EU destinations post-Brexit - if the UK government grants EU citizens the same privilege.
The European Commission has proposed to grant UK citizens visa-free travel to the EU after the UK withdraws from the European Union - if the UK also grants reciprocal visa-free travel to all EU citizens.
A statement issued by the EU Commission on Tuesday this week said the proposal was “entirely conditional” on the UK granting reciprocal, non-discriminatory visa-free travel for all EU member states “in line with the principle of visa reciprocity”.
This agreement would need to be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states to take effect. The Commission has called on both institutions to make quick progress on this proposal, so that it can be adopted in good time before 30 March 2019.
What will it mean for business travellers?
If honoured, Brits travelling for business or leisure won’t need a visa to enter any of the 26 EU countries in the Schengen area for up to 90 days, within a 180-day period. The UK currently permits visa-free travel to nationals from 56 countries, allowing stays of up to six months. If ‘no deal’ is agreed, the Commission said arrangements would start from 30 March 2019.
However, if a deal is agreed, new visa arrangements would start from the end of any transition period, currently scheduled to conclude at the start of 2021.
A spokesperson from ABTA said: “Maintaining visa-free travel has been a lobbying priority for ABTA throughout the Brexit negotiation process, and we welcome the announcement from the European Commission that UK travellers will not need a visa to travel to EU countries after March 2019, even in a no-deal scenario.
“We are currently analysing the full commission technical notice, and will update the existing guidance we have made available to members accordingly.”