Britons will have to pay 7 euros for visa-free travel to EU after Brexit

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FILE - In this Feb. 13, 2015 file photo, cyclists ride along Chartres St. near the Mississippi River waterfront in the Bywater section of New Orleans. A New Orleans City Council member has released a long-awaited proposal that would ban short-term rentals of whole houses in the city's residential areas. Thursday's move by Kristen Gisleson Palmer drew an immediate rebuke from a spokesman from HomeAway, one of the businesses that arranges short-term vacation rentals online. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
a close up of a logo: A British passport is pictured in front of an European Union flag in this photo illustration taken in Brussels

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – British travelers will have to pay 7 euros ($7.91) for a three year pre-travel authorization to visit the European Union after Brexit, provided London seals a divorce agreement with the bloc.

The EU is readying a new electronic visa waiver system by 2021 to beef up security. The bloc’s executive proposed to exempt Britain from visas provided that the sides agree on a Brexit deal before the UK leaves, as is now due on March 29, 2019.

The new EU system, or ETIAS, would be similar to the ESTA scheme used by the United States, and would apply to countries outside the bloc whose citizens can travel to Europe visa-free.

There are currently 61 such countries from Monaco to Australia. ETIAS would start applying to the UK after its status-quo transition after Brexit runs its course, which is now due at the end of 2020 though could be extended.

The fee would be waived for travelers under 18 and those over 70 years old.

It would also cover countries associated with the EU’s zone of control-free travel, meaning Britons would also have to pay to travel to Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Lichtenstein since they are part of this so-called Schengen zone even though outside of the EU.

Conversely, it would not cover EU states that are not in Schengen, like Ireland.

If Britain crashes out of the bloc with no agreement in place to mitigate ensuing disruptions, Britons could require visas to travel to the EU in the future, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said on Friday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was again under pressure on Friday over her Brexit deal, after her pleas to EU leaders for more assurances over their tentative divorce deal fell flat.

(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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