Citizens of EU countries will need US-style ESTA pre-approval to enter the UK after Brexit. The rules will mean visitors will need to give at least three days’ notice before arriving here in order to gain clearance.
EU visitors will have to fill in an online form called the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) to gain entry to the UK, in addition to bringing their passports.
Without the new visa waiver, which there will be a charge for, would-be visitors will be turned back at the airport, the Conservatives are expected to announce today as part of a fresh border clampdown.
The shift will mean that EU citizens will no longer be allowed to travel to the UK on national identity cards, with the EU likely to reciprocate and introduce a similar scheme in 2021.
Importers will also have to compile pre-arrival declarations that the Conservatives claim will cut smuggling and provide an extra £5bn a year in revenue.
Edwin Morgan, director of policy at the Institute of Directors, in response to the plans, emphasised that business people needed to be able to move as freely as possible between European countries: “Ease of movement between the UK and EU is highly important for many of our members, so the government must aim to keep bureaucracy to a minimum, particularly as the UK sells lots of services to the EU which requires professionals to travel. Given our close geography and intertwined markets, it makes sense for Britain and Europe to seek some form of preferential deal on movement.”
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Home secretary Priti Patel is also set to announce fresh powers to prevent EU citizens with criminal convictions from entering the UK in addition to a system that will count in and count out EU citizens to ensure they do not overstay the three-month travel limit set to imposed.
Patel said: “When people voted to leave in 2016 they were voting to take back control of our borders. After Brexit we will introduce an Australian-style points based immigration system and take steps to strengthen our border and improve the security of the UK.
“The consequence of EU laws limiting our border capability is brought home to me every day. It is a sad fact that drugs and guns reach our streets from Europe, fuelling violence and addiction. And most shockingly of all, we know that terrorists have been able to enter the country by exploiting free movement. After Brexit we will take steps to strengthen our border and improve the security of the UK.”
Labour’s initial response was to focus on how the Conservatives’ Brexit border plans would hamper the UK’s security by pulling it out of key information-sharing systems with the EU. Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said: “By quitting the entire system of EU security and justice, we will no longer have real-time access to a host of critical databases or access to the European Arrest Warrant.
“This will undermine the ability of our police and border agencies to apprehend terrorists and organised criminals, and could even make us a safe haven for fugitives fleeing the justice systems in the EU.”