As the travel headlines are dominated by ever-tightening restrictions on British holidaymakers, there has been a further blow to our liberties – one which has nothing to do with the pandemic.
On Monday, just as the UK’s travel media were consumed with the Government’s new approach to quarantine rules, the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) ushered in another update on its website – to enshrine the post-Brexit EU travel restrictions.
From January 1 2021, when the UK leaves the EU for good, British citizens may only travel visa-free to Schengen area countries for up to 90 days at a time. If, in any 180-day period, they choose to stay longer, they must apply for a visa – which would entail red tape, border queues, and perhaps a fee.
This impending change has, of course, been well aired throughout Brexit debates – but it was only yesterday, while attention was elsewhere, that the FCDO’s online guidelines were updated on its official website. Its country-by-country guides, and ‘Living In’ advice pages – which detail regulations for British citizens who live abroad – now include full details of the 90-day limit for visitors to EU countries, as well as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland.
Watch - Yahoo UK’s Finance Editor explain what stamp duty cuts mean for buyers and house prices
It advises: ‘From 1 January 2021, you will be able to travel to Schengen area countries for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa for purposes such as tourism. This is a rolling 180-day period.
‘To stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel, you will need to meet the entry requirements set out by the country to which you are travelling. This could mean applying for a visa or work permit. You may also need to get a visa if your visit would take you over the 90 days in 180 days limit.’
The website also decrees that from January 1, holidaymakers must have at least six months left on their passport when travelling to most countries in Europe.
For trips shorter than 90 days, Britons will not require a visa to visit Schengen area countries. But for those who own second homes in Europe – or travel to the continent for long periods of time – this update will be a frustration.
And now, at a time when holidays feel increasingly out-of-reach, it’s yet another knock to a travel industry which is already on its knees.