The United Kingdom officially left the European Union at the beginning of 2020. It was a huge turning point in the history of this nation, as well as a decision that divided its citizens for several years. One of the biggest changes that occurred following the famous “Brexit” is that EU citizens couldn’t simply use their national IDs to visit the UK.
Initially, there weren’t too many other travel restrictions (with the exception of those forced upon the continent following the pandemic), but that will change in late-2022 when the ETIAS comes into force.
ETIAS Visa Waiver for UK Citizens
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is a Schengen visa waiver program that aims to vet travelers from around 60 countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom.
If you are a UK passport holder, you will need to apply for an ETIAS before you can visit popular destinations like Spain, Portugal, Denmark, and Belgium. It doesn’t matter how long you intend to stay in these regions or whether you’re just sightseeing or visiting family, an ETIAS is essential.
It signals a massive change for British citizens considering that no additional steps have been required for several decades, but the ETIAS application is very simple. Unlike a Schengen visa, you don’t need to visit embassies and deal with endless paperwork and requests—it’s all conducted online and should take less than 10 minutes.
You can apply for an ETIAS through the official government website (after late-2022) and will only need a valid email address as well as a €7 application fee.
Once granted, an ETIAS allows all British passport holders to visit the Schengen Zone for up to 90 days within a 180-day period. It remains active for either 3 years or until the passport expires—whatever comes first.
Is the ETIAS A Schengen Visa?
ETIAS is not a Schengen Visa and does not grant the same privileges. A Schengen Visa may allow you to work and study long-term in the area, but it will depend on the terms of the visa. An ETIAS is pretty strict and specific in its rules and merely allows access for 90 days within a 180-day period.
This essentially means that you can visit the Schengen Zone for 90 days, return home, wait for another 90 days, and then return for 3 more months. It can be used for short-term study, sightseeing, family visits, business purposes, and travel.
Where Do British Citizens Go On Vacation?
Most travelers prefer to stay close to home, which is why the most commonly visited countries are the ones right on the border. If that were true for UK travelers, we’d expect to see Ireland and France topping the list, but the majority of Brits actually prefer Spain and Portugal, both of which are part of the Schengen Zone.
Mallorca, the Canary Islands, Benidorm, and the Algarve are all very popular tourist destinations for British travelers. They also spend a lot of time in Greece, choosing to visit islands like Rhodes and Crete over mainland destinations like Athens. France is on the list as well, of course, but Spain is number one for most Brits.
As far as dream destinations are concerned, the majority of Brits list countries like Australia and the United States at the top of their lists, as well as the tropical paradise that is the Maldives.
What are the Best Places for Brits to Visit with an ETIAS?
In 2023 and 2024, France will host the Rugby Union World Cup and then the Summer Olympics. Oktoberfest in Munich is also a great annual event, and you can find plenty of festivals, events, and attractions in Italy, Greece, Austria, and Belgium as well.
Italy is one of the most diverse countries in the Schengen Zone and offers a little bit of everything for experienced travelers. You can explore the culture and history of Rome, sample some country life in the north, authentic pizza in Naples, and a different kind of luxury in Venice.