Visa rules for Australians in Europe and Britain: The Schengen area and Brexit

The implications of Brexit so far – a plummeting British pound, and a turbocharged Aussie dollar for anyone heading for the UK in the near future – are already on the table. What is not known is how the Brexit vote might affect entry rules for Aussies travelling to the UK and Europe.

Australian passport holders headed for Britain

Australian passport holders can enter Britain as a tourist without a visa and remain for up to six months.

In some cases they might be asked to prove they have sufficient funds and/or family support to enable them to remain for that period without working, for which a visa is required.

While the vote in favour of Brexit could be interpreted as a protest against the number of foreigners living and working in Britain – and Poles in particular – those who visit on holiday are quarantined from that sentiment.

If the British economy takes a pounding post Brexit, the British government would not want to stifle tourism by making it more difficult for Australian passport holders to visit. Therefore it is unlikely that the current rules will change.

Australian passport holders headed for Europe

Most of continental Europe is part of the Schengen Area, which was established to allow the free flow of goods and people within Europe, borderless travel in other words.

The Schengen Area encompasses 26 countries from Finland in the north east to Portugal in the south west and Greece in the south east. Britain is not part of the Schengen Area, nor is Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Ireland.

Australian passport holders are permitted to enter the Schengen Area and travel freely without a visa for up to 90 days within a six-month period.

Unless there are further dramatic changes within the EU it is likely that the Schengen Area will remain intact and the rules that apply to Australian visitors will stay the same.

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Australians intending to use their entire 90-day Schengen Area quota need to take care if they are exiting and returning to the Schengen Area.

The problem is the fluid nature of European borders. For example you might leave Italy and fly to the UK without getting a stamp in your Australian passport to certify exit from a Schengen Area country.

The clock on your 90-day Schengen entry permit will keep ticking down for the duration of your stay in the UK, or other non-Schengen Area country.

If you plan to re-enter a Schengen Area country for the full 90-day period, which you're allowed, it's important to get that exit stamp in your passport.

See also: The world's best passports for travellers named

Australian residents with British passports

More than a million Australian residents hold current British passports and they've had a cushy time of it, scoring the short immigration queues when landing at Heathrow and travelling for as long as they like throughout the Schengen countries.

Will Brexit bring changes that will affect them?

In 2014, UK residents made more than 40 million trips to Europe. Their total spend was more than £16 billion.

If the British pound continues to wallow against the euro in the post-Brexit era, Brits will have less to spend when they travel to eurozone countries.

Fewer might travel to Europe, or for shorter periods.

It seems unlikely therefore that countries such as Spain, France, the Irish Republic and Italy – the top four European destinations for British residents – would further dampen British enthusiasm for travel to Europe by restricting the entry of British passport holders.

Therefore I'm predicting that Aussie residents with British passports will continue to find an open door when they travel within Europe.

See also: Eight ways the Brexit could affect travellers

See also: Brexit sees tourists splurge in London

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