Brexit uncertainty could see British travellers pay £52 to visit Europe

People in the UK wishing to travel to mainland EU countries after the Brexit deadline of 29 March still face uncertainty. A plan to exempt UK travellers from needing a visa has been stopped again by a dispute over Gibraltar.

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Travellers face a world of uncertainty at the moment. Photo by KTSDESIGN/Science Photo Library

Legislation is being drafted to protect UK travellers’ visa-free status in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Under these terms, no visas would be required to travel to mainland EU countries for a transition period until 2021. After that time, people could expect to pay just £7 to buy three years of visa-free travel, a new system which is due to be introduced for all non-EU countries.

If this emergency legislation is not passed, travellers would have to pay £52 for a Schengen visa, something which could take up to two weeks to be approved. That could seriously affect upcoming spring holidays, business travel or just spontaneous weekend breaks. It would affect all travel to EU countries, except Ireland, which has a separate common travel agreement with the UK.

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Europa Point Gibraltar. Photo by maniscule/Getty Images

The visa-free travel legislation has won the general approval of the EU parliament but has been derailed by a row over how to address the disputed state of Gibraltar. Spain has always claimed sovereignty over Gibraltar, which lies on the Iberian peninsula, a status the parliament of Gibraltar has rejected.

The Spanish government has insisted on referring to Gibraltar as a “colony” in the EU statute book. This language and status have been rejected both by the EU parliament which says “colonial language which has no place in the world” and the UK which calls the territory “a full part of the UK family”.

The diplomatic row has stalled plans to ensure British people have visa-free travel status after Brexit and may impact people from Europe wishing to visit the UK as well. The UK passport office has also warned a no-deal Brexit could also affect the validity of some passports during the summer holidays.