Brits will have to pay for travel permits to EU and Switzerland

British Prime Minister Theresa May struggles to be heard in Brussels on Thursday Keystone

The European Union announced on Friday that British travellers will have to pay €7 (CHF7.90) for a three-year pre-travel authorisation to visit the European Union – and Switzerland – after Brexit, provided London seals a divorce agreement with the bloc. 

This content was published on December 14, 2018 - 15:34

The EU is preparing a new electronic visa waiver system, to be ready by 2021, to beef up security. The bloc’s executive proposed to include Britain in the scheme, provided that the sides agree on a Brexit deal before Britain leaves. 

The new EU system, ETIASExternal link, would be similar to the ESTA scheme used by the United States and would apply to countries outside the bloc whose citizens can travel to Europe visa-free. There are currently 61 such countries from Monaco to Australia. 

ETIAS would begin applying to Britain after its status-quo transition from Brexit runs its course, which is now due at the end of 2020. 

The fee would be waived for travellers under 18 and those over 70 years old. 

It would also cover countries associated with the EU’s zone of control-free travel, meaning Britons would also have to pay to travel to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein since they are part of the Schengen zone despite being outside the EU. 

If Britain crashes out of the bloc with no agreement in place to mitigate ensuing disruptions, Britons could require full visas to travel to the EU in the future, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said on Friday. 

British Prime Minister Theresa May was again under pressure on Friday over her Brexit deal, after her pleas to EU leaders for more assurances over their tentative divorce deal fell flat.

British-Swiss relations 

At present, relations between Switzerland and Britain are largely based on the bilateral agreements that exist between Switzerland and the EU, particularly on an economic and commercial level. 

In 2017, Britain was Switzerland’s sixth-largest export market (CHF11.4 billion or $11.43 billion) and its eighth-largest supplier (CHF6.1 billion of imports). 

In October 2016, the government adopted its “Mind the GapExternal link” strategy aimed at guaranteeing as far as possible the mutual rights and obligations of citizens in all areas that currently link Switzerland and Britain.

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