An electronic travel authorisation system moved a step closer for most of Europe as EU ambassadors confirmed agreement on the scheme by the EU Council Presidency and representatives of the European Parliament.
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) would introduce advance checks on travellers to the Schengen area of Europe from visa-exempt third countries including the UK.
Travel authorisation will cost €7 and last a maximum three years or until expiry of the travel document used for the application.
The ETIAS scheme, based on the US Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), is expected to come into force in 2020.
Travellers from the UK, Ireland and Cyprus will have to register online and pay the fee to visit countries including France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece.
However, the introduction of ETIAS is nothing to do with Brexit. It was proposed before the UK referendum vote to leave the EU and would apply to Britain as a non-Schengen country regardless of Brexit.
Airlines and sea carriers will be required to check whether travellers subject to the ETIAS system have valid authorisation before boarding.
The system will also apply to coach operators for the first three years of the scheme.
The proposed regulation will go to a vote of the European Parliament and subsequently to the Council for adoption but can be expected to remain in its current form.
The Schengen area comprises 26 European countries, including non-EU states Switzerland, Norway and Iceland.
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