The new travel requirements to enter Spain have led to confusion among post-Brexit Brits about who it affects and when it actually starts.

The introduction of the ETIAS regime will complicate the visa-free entry into the EU that Britons have enjoyed since freedom of movement ended in 2020.

Recently, at the beginning of January 2023, the official information was that the new requirement would take effect at the beginning of January 2023, which led to confusion among travelers about what they had to comply with.

A few days later, it was clarified that the ETIAS requirement would not take effect until ‘later in the year’.

Some reports then put that date at May 2023, but the most recent announcement from the European Commission’s Department for Migration and Home Affairs states that it won’t start until November 2023.

Britons can currently enter any EU country from the Schengen area with just their passport for a period of three months within any six-month period.

travelers in spain
November is the current start date for the new ETIAS regime which will force Brits coming to Spain to pay €7 for a security check (Credit Image: © Marcin Nowak/London News Pictures via ZUMA Wire)

But the new ETIAS, or European Travel Information and Authorization System, when it is finally introduced, will require travelers to apply for special permission to enter the EU before boarding the plane.

For a fee of €7, travelers will undergo a form of security screening that will also measure irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors traveling to Schengen states.

The background check will be automated against the EU’s information systems for borders and security and, they say, in the vast majority of cases, the travel authorization will be issued within minutes.

As such, tourists who forget to apply for an ETIAS, or don’t even know it, will be able to apply while waiting to board the plane.

However, if additional verifications are required, it can take up to 96 hours, so it is sensible to apply well in advance.

Residents of Spain will not be required to have an ETIAS, although it will be advisable to have residence documents on hand when boarding.

And a criminal record is not an automatic disqualification to apply for the ETIAS.

Once an ETIAS is acquired, it will be valid for three years, saving travelers the hassle of having to apply every time they enter the Schengen zone.

A total of 60 countries with visa-free access to the EU will be subject to the new ETIAS regime, including the US, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Colombia and Chile.

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