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Visa-fee travel post-Brexit

IN ALL the recent Brexit furore on this side of the Channel, it was easy to overlook the institutions of the European Union in February quietly approving a proposal for visa-free travel for UK nationals within its 27 remaining Member States post-Brexit. UK nationals will be able to travel freely in the EU, including the Shengen Area, for 90 days. Visa-free travel will happen even in the event of a "no deal" Brexit by the UK from the EU.

What about visa-free travel to the UK by EU nationals? It's a deal conditional on "reciprocity" - based on EU nationals getting the same from the UK. The UK has said it "does not intend" to demand visas from EU nationals, so we can assume our colleagues in the EU can come to the UK for three months too. The UK's recent record on undertakings to its EU partners, though, has not been great. So be prepared for the UK Government to screw up visa-free travel as well, or to simply forget about such detail.

Members should be aware, however, that this announcement is visa-free travel - it's for visits to the EU. The adopted proposal doesn't say anything about whether UK nationals may need a visa to work in those countries. Nor does it say anything about whether UK national journalists will need a "media visa" to research or cover stories in EU Member States, as demanded by countries such as India and the US. These are usually harder to get than short-stay business visas and the like.

The individual EU Member States - including those within the Shengen group of countries - still issue their own student visas and work visas to non-EU nationals, so there may be some variation between Member States on what sort of work visas or media visas (if any) they will demand for post-Brexit UK nationals. Watch this space.

Meanwhile, members entering or leaving the EU on a UK passport and vice versa are urged to ensure they have six months of validity left on their passport, just in case. This is especially true for travel after 31 October 2019, after which there is the increasingly likely prospect of a (deliberate) "no deal" Brexit.

Members who are EU nationals and who can evidence the fact that they've lived in the UK for a while can apply for the EU Settlement Scheme which should allow them to stay in the UK permanently. Details and deadlines are here. See also our most recent advisory for UK nationals living in other EU Member States.