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Govt outlines ‘no deal’ changes to passport and travel documents

Johnny Bugeja

The Gibraltar Government has issued a technical notice to explain the effect of changes to passports and travel documents to the Schengen Area, including Spain, in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

“If there is no agreement, then processes and procedures will change on January 1, 2021 when the transition period has ended,” the Government of Gibraltar said in a statement.

“The way in which businesses and citizens interact with the EU and its Member States, including Spain, will become very different.”

“It is essential that everyone familiarises themselves with those changes and prepares for them.”

“However, there are some areas where the impact cannot be mitigated, quite simply because those new procedures are the consequences of Brexit and of what having left the European Union actually means.”

The technical notice gives details on what requirements UK nationals, including British Gibraltarians, will need to meet in order to travel into the Schengen Area as from January 1 in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

This includes having a passport that is valid for more than six months and less than 10 years, and people are being urged to renew their passport if needed.

British Gibraltarians will no longer be able to travel into the Schengen Area with the Gibraltar identity card and will need to ensure they have a valid passport if they intend on travelling.

The Government of Gibraltar said it will provide further details on reciprocal arrangements to allow for visa-free travel between the UK and EU in due course.

UK nationals and all third-country nationals will have to obtain travel authorisations granted under the EU’s ETIAS system which is yet to commence operations.

The European Commission has said ETIAS is estimated to become operational in 2022, and travel authorisations are valid for three years in exchange of a €7 fee.

UK nationals should be able to verify how long they will be visiting and staying in the Schengen Area if EU Member State border authorities make these enquiries.

In the event of a negotiated Brexit, the Government said all authorities recognise the importance of safeguarding fluidity at the border.

It said it remains engaged in constructive discussions with all parties in order to reach permanent solutions, which could include Gibraltarian residents being exempt from having to produce the documentation outlined in the technical notice when crossing the border and for the Gibraltar identity card to continue to be recognised as a valid travel document.

Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Joseph Garcia, said: “It is important to understand that these Technical Notices contain guidance to cover the eventuality of no agreement in the ongoing negotiations for a Future Relationship between Gibraltar and the European Union.”

“The Government, nonetheless, continues to work hard for an agreement which protects our sovereignty, jurisdiction and control.”