Brexit: EU parliament votes to give UK citizens visa-free travel in event of no-deal

When the UK leaves the EU, British travellers will become ‘third country nationals’

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Thursday 04 April 2019 12:10 BST
EU Parliament votes to give UK citizens visa-free travel after no-deal brexit

The European parliament has voted to confirm UK citizens will continue to benefit from visa-free travel to member states after a no-deal Brexit.

MEPs voted 502 votes to 81 in favour of the concession – provided EU nationals enjoy the same conditions when travelling to the UK.

The decision had been held up by a row at the European Council about the status of Gibraltar, whose sovereignty is disputed by Spain.

The rapporteur for the proposal, Sergei Stanishev, said: “This is an important step for guaranteeing visa-free travel between EU and UK after Brexit, especially in case of no deal.”

From the moment of leaving the European Union, British travellers will become “third country nationals”. But in common with more than 60 other nationalities, including Australian, Japanese and US visitors, they will be allowed to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.

But the new law warns that were the UK to introduce a visa requirement for nationals of any one member state, visa requirements for UK nationals could be reintroduced.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, the travel association, said: “Today’s vote provides absolute certainty that UK holidaymakers and business travellers will be able to travel visa-free to Europe, deal or no deal.

“It follows on from the confirmation a few weeks ago that flights will continue to operate, even in a no deal.

“While it is encouraging that these issues have been addressed, securing a deal is very much the preferred outcome, and we encourage parliamentarians to explore all options to avoid a no deal.”

Border checks, however, are set to become stricter. At present, a British passport entitles the holder to travel anywhere in the EU up to and including the date of expiry.

After a no-deal Brexit, much tighter formalities come into effect that will end the automatic right of entry.

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