British citizens may have to apply online and pay to travel to Europe after the UK leaves the EU, under plans being drawn up by the bloc for a visa waiver programme similar to the US system, according to a Guardian report.
The European commission is due to unveil draft legislation for the EU travel information and authorisation system (Etias) later this year as part of a broader response to calls for greater security across the continent following recent terror attacks in France and Belgium.
The scheme would cover all visitors to the passport-free 26-nation Schengen zone – of which Britain is not a member – from countries that do not need a visa to enter, EU sources confirmed.
France and Germany both back a system based on the US ESTA scheme, under which visitors from countries that do not require full visas must apply online for permission to travel, preferably 72 hours before they leave, at a cost of $14 (£10).
Currently, as citizens of the EU but not part of Schengen, UK nationals must show a valid passport to enter the zone but can then travel freely within it. But after Brexit, British citizens could have to apply through the Etias scheme and pay to visit, legal experts said.