British tourists face US-style electronic visa scheme when travelling to EU after Brexit

Foreign travellers pay a fee of $14 (£11) to use US automated travel eligibility system ESTA

Katie Forster
Wednesday 22 February 2017 21:07 GMT
US border
US border (AFP/Getty)

The EU is considering the adoption of a US-style electronic travel permit scheme – a move which could create a new administrative hurdle for British tourists after Brexit.

Immigration minister Robert Goodwill told Parliament the EU was discussing the possibility of introducing a version of America's Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

Currently foreign travellers must pay a fee of $14 (£11) when they complete ESTA, an automated online system which determines their eligibility to travel to the US.

“British people are now used to the US ESTA scheme and, therefore, we view with interest how the European scheme might develop and what similarities, and differences, there may be to the US scheme,” said Mr Goodwill.

“This type of scheme is generally there to help enhance security. To get to know as much as possible about the people who are intending to travel. It isn't just flights, it could be people using ferries, or other border crossings into the European Union.”

Alan Brown, an SNP member of the European Scrutiny Committee, pointed out that Leave advocates in the referendum campaign had said there would be no need for visa-like travel schemes after Brexit.

“An ESTA still takes time and costs money and it is something people have to repeat,” he said.

But Mr Goodwill replied that it was still too early know if this would apply to British residents visiting the continent after the UK leaves the EU.

“We will not be members of the European Union and it will be impossible, I think, at this early stage to speculate on the effect this might have on British citizens or other third country nationals,” he said.

“It is important that as we negotiate with our European Union friends, that we can get the best possible deal, and we need to take account of developments such as this that they may be working on.”

The Conservative MP for Scarborough and Whitby added that the US system was not journey-specific and some ESTAs lasted for ten years.

The Government has said it intends to keep the common travel area with Ireland, an arrangement which dates back to the 1920s, after Brexit.

Additional reporting from Press Association

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