British tourists will not have to pay a fee to go on summer holidays in the EU next year, but will have to submit a photograph and fingerprints to a new entry system to the bloc.
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) is the EU’s answer to the Esta, which tourists must have to enter the United States.
Etias had been due to come into force next May but has now been delayed until November 2023. It was previously scheduled to begin at the end of this year.
The new rules mean Britons, who are no longer EU citizens after Brexit, will have to apply online for a pass costing €7 to enter the bloc. The pass lasts for three years or until the expiry of the traveller’s passport, whichever comes first.
“The Etias is scheduled to enter into operation as of November 2023,” said a European Commission spokesman.
The delay will be welcomed by a travel industry fearful that summer holidaymakers would fall foul of the change in rules.
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However, the EU’s long-delayed Entry/Exit system (EES) is still due to come into force in May and risks catching out summer tourists.
The system requires the registration of non-EU travellers’ photos and fingerprints, which will be submitted in the form of biometric data. It will also register the name, travel documents and date and place of entry and exit.
The commission said the system would replace the stamping of passports.
“[Stamping] is time consuming, does not provide reliable data on border crossings and does not allow the detection of overstayers or address cases of loss or destruction of travelling documents,” a spokesman told the i paper.
Since Brexit, UK citizens without residency rights in the EU must have their passports stamped on entering and leaving the bloc. Under the terms of the Brexit negotiations, Britons have a total of 90 days visa-free travel in the EU over 180 days.
Despite the commission’s insistence that the EES will come into force in May, there is some scepticism in Brussels that the deadline will be met.
Insiders believe that the Etias will have to be implemented before the EES if it is to work properly and be a realistic alternative to manual passport stamping.