EU Travel Post-Brexit: Passport Stamps at EU Borders for UK Nationals
As international borders open between the UK and the EU, travel is gradually going back to pre-pandemic days.
However, Brexit has ushered in a host of changes to travel rules especially on the issue of passport stamping. As British nationals are no longer EU citizens, British travellers have to abide by the 90 days in every 180 days rule.
British nationals who do not have EU residency status or a visa are now limited to 90 days in every 180 within the Schengen zone and the passport stamp helps to keep track of this.
The 180-day reference period is not fixed, it is a moving window, based on the approach of looking backwards.
But if you exhaust the 90 days in 180 day-period all in one go, you will have to spend 90 days outside of the Schengen Area. These rules have been in place long before Brexit.
Changes to EU Travel Post-Brexit
The rules for entry and exit of British passport holders into the EU have changed as checks and passport stamping now apply to British visitors to the EU. Border guards are entitled to ask British visitors for evidence of healthcare cover and sufficient funds for their trip.
Passport stamps reflecting the date of entry and exit are a way for border officials to calculate that British travellers just like other third-country nationals have not overstayed.
In order for the checks and/or stamping to take place, British passport holders are no longer entitled to use automatic e-gates on crossing EU external borders.
This is of particular concern for non-resident British nationals who visit the EU regularly to spend time in their second homes or for an extended holiday, as they have to pay special attention that border officials DO stamp their passports when they fly between the EU and the UK, inbound and outbound.
Travellers may encounter problems when visiting the EU again if there is no clear proof of entry and exit on their passports as travellers may be considered as overstayers. Penalties or punishments for overstaying vary from one EU country to another. In Spain, fines range from €500 to €100,000 depending on the severity of the violation along with temporary bans from visiting the EU/Schengen Area.
British Residents in the EU
British citizens who are residents in the EU need to be able to prove their residency status at the border. British residents travelling back to their host EU country should always hand over both the passport and the residency card or documents proving their residency rights at the border.
In the absence of such documents, the passports of British nationals will be systematically stamped to verify the authorised length of stay in the Schengen area for non-resident persons.
In the event that your passport was stamped despite presenting your residency card and explaining that you are a resident of the country, you are travelling to, British Embassies around Europe state that it will not pose a problem. Ultimately, your right to residency in your host country is proven by your residency card and that will always trump a passport stamp.
UK Passport Validity
There are also specific rules on passport validity post-Brexit.
The FCDO issued the advice on 14 October and stated:
The rules for travelling to European countries changed on January 1, 2021.
Check your passport is valid for travel before you book your trip, and renew your passport if you do not have enough time left on it.
British visitors to EU/Schengen area countries must make sure their passport was issued no more than 10 years before the day after they will leave the Schengen area, and that it is valid until at least three months after the planned departure date.
These rules do not apply to EU residency cardholders, who only need to ensure their passport is within its validity period.
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