How the Schengen area was created
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There are currently 26 countries in the EU Schengen Zone, including the popular destinations of Spain, France and Portugal. A few EU countries, such as Croatia are not within the Schengen Zone.
By the end of 2022, British tourists will need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Authorisation and Information System) to visit EU countries.
In a press statement, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency said: “The EU will not be the first to introduce such a system: for many years now, visa-exempt travellers have had to apply for a travel authorisation to enter the US, Canada or Australia.”
Under post-Brexit rules Britain will be considered a third country and will be subject to the ETIAS scheme.
ETIAS was established in a bid to strengthen EU borders and protect the area from visitors who pose a security or health risk.
The electronic system will track visitors who enter the Schengen zone and procedures for the ETIAS scheme started in 2016.
New staff members have been hired to work on ETIAS while preparations are underway for the full launch at the end of 2022.
Any British tourists who plan to stay in the Schengen zone for up to three months will need to apply for a new ETIAS each time it expires.
It is thought that the ETIAS will be valid for three years and can be used for stays of up to 90 days within 180 days.
The application for a new ETIAS must be filed before the old one expires, or the tourist will be considered illegal.
The European Commission has previously issued a warning to tourists, as there are many fake websites claiming to offer ETIAS.
ETIAS could be rejected for a number of reasons including if the applicant is considered a security risk to those in the Schengen Zone.
If the applicant fails to attend an interview or reply to a request for additional information, they could also be rejected.
If there are serious doubts about the ETIAS application, the applicant will need to attend an interview to answer questions on the request.
Citizens from the USA, Georgia, Montenegro and several other countries will also need to apply for ETIAS at the end of 2022.
The USA has a similar visa waiver system for low risk countries, which was introduced after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
British tourists will need to apply online for ETIAS through the official website. Postal applications will not be an option.
Since the UK left the EU, British tourists are subject to new travel rules when travelling in the Schengen Zone.
Some expats have reported being caught by the rules as they used to spend four or five months of the year in Spain.
As they have not applied for Spanish residency, they are no longer able to do so and must stay within the 90 day rule.
Some British expats have expressed fears that expat communities in Spain could shrink as people decide not to emigrate.
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