Brexit: The future system for visas and travel

The draft agreement that’s been set out says that, after Brexit, both EU and UK citizens will continue to enjoy visa-free travel. If the declaration is agreed by both sides, citizens will be able to travel freely, at least for shorter visits.

However, it has been implied that the UK is considering introducing a visa system for EU nations from some countries. For example, David Davis, who is the former chief Brexit negotiator, suggested that the UK may introduce visas for Polish, Romanian, and Bulgarian nationals going forward.

A lot of the original leave campaign was centred around immigration. Campaigners argued that the UK needed to stop large numbers of immigrants from Eastern Europe, and the British citizens would benefit from more jobs being available.

The UK had a visa system for Bulgarian and Romanian citizens until 2007, when the countries officially joined the union. The draft agreement doesn’t cover visas or travel. It’s expected that this will be covered in the Political Declaration, which will outline future relations between the UK and EU.

In the draft agreement, it reads:

“1. Noting that the United Kingdom has decided that the principle of free movement of    persons between the Union and the United Kingdom will no longer apply, the Parties should establish mobility arrangements, as set out below;

2. The mobility arrangements will be based on non-discrimination between the Union’s Member States and full reciprocity;

3. In this context, the Parties aim to provide, through their domestic laws, for visa-free travel for short-term visits.”

According to regulations, EU countries are legally required to “react in common” in terms of visas and travel, in particular, in cases where countries “subject [EU] citizens to differing treatment”. For example, in terms of US-EU relations, where the US requires citizens of some countries, like Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria to apply for visas. However, the “full reciprocity” mentioned in the document is usually not enforced by the Commission.


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