With the UK exiting the EU, new rules have come into effect that impact how UK citizens travel around Europe. UK citizens now fall under the same rules as non-EU nationals, with new travel barriers and complex regulations existing within the Schengen Area, and on a country-by-country level. For companies with employees travelling in and around Europe, having accurate visibility and reporting into where employees are working will be critical to help manage and protect those employees against immigration risk.
What is the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Area is a European zone consisting of 26 countries where citizens can enjoy free and unrestricted movement across borders without the need for a visa. Countries include:
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
New Visa requirements for UK Citizens in Schengen countries
Prior to Brexit, UK Citizens enjoyed the freedom to travel, live, holiday, and work anywhere in the EU without the need for a visa. But as of 2021 this is no longer the case. Now the EU and UK have an agreement in place that allows most UK-passport holders visa-free travel for a combined total of 90-days in a rolling 180-day period. Weekends and personal days spent within the Schengen Area are included in the day count – meaning personal travel can now impact the ability to travel for work.
Consequences of overstaying in Schengen
Immigration authorities will register every non-EU passport holder coming to and going from the Schengen zone. Whether overstaying your permitted 90 days or overstaying a visa, it will not go unnoticed. Penalties will differ depending on the member country, and include:
- Fines – Fees of €3k+ could be incurred, the amount will differ depending on the member countries
- Travel bans – A person can be banned for 1-3 years for overstaying their 90-day allowance, or 3+ years for overstaying a visa
- Deportation – Followed closely by a travel ban
- Difficulties returning to Schegen countries – As database records are shared between Schengen countries, complications will occur upon attempting to re-enter or when applying for a Schengen visa
How to avoid overstaying in Schengen
Tracking the number of cumulative days spent traveling in the Schengen is relatively simple in theory, but the 90/180 visa rule could be easily prone to miscalculations, or misinterpretation of the rules. By having accurate visibility into where employees are working and travelling, you can identify at risk individuals before they reach the 90-day threshold or overstay their visa, preventing painful compliance breaches before they occur. Topia Compass gives you data and tools to effectively manage your distributed workforce and business travellers. Contact us for more information and download a short PDF on this topic here.