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BREXIT

Brexit: EU asks border police not to stamp passports of British residents

The European Commission has asked border police from member states across the bloc not to stamp the passports of those British nationals protected by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Brexit: EU asks border police not to stamp passports of British residents
A person holds up a British National passport (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)

Britons living across the EU have long been concerned about the knock-on effect of their passport being wrongly stamped when travelling in and out of the Schengen zone.

While British officials at embassies across Europe have repeatedly stressed the passports of those Britons protected by the Brexit deal should not be stamped, those instructions appear not to have filtered through to border guards.

The erroneous stamps have left many passport holders resident in the EU worrying about being accused of overstaying the 90-day limit in their host country.

This week the EU Commission has stressed that passports should not be stamped, but reassured Britons that if they are there will be no negative consequences.

“The Commission recommends – notably as regards beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement – that Member State border guards refrain from stamping. In any case, should stamping nevertheless take place, such stamp cannot affect the length of the authorised long-term stay,” read their latest guidance.

“EU law does not prevent border guards from stamping upon entry to and exit from the Schengen area of travel documents of United Kingdom nationals who are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement who are in possession of a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen Member State. The same applies to their family members in the same situation.”

The Commission added that the usual limitation of a stay of 90 days in a 180 days’ period in the Schengen area does not apply to Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement “irrespective of whether their passport has been stamped or not”.

But it reminded Britons that they only have the right to stay in their country of residence. If they travel within the Schengen area to another EU country they are subject to the 90 day rule. 

It recommended Britons “proactively present” their post-Brexit residency cards  – if they have one – at the border to prove their status. However not all Britons in the EU have post-Brexit residency cards because they are only compulsory in certain countries.

Britons in countries such as Spain and Italy, where the cards are not obligatory but available, are urged to apply as soon as possible. 

Those who don’t have the cards are told to use any documentation “that credibly proves that the holders exercised the right to move and reside freely in the host Member State before the end of the transition period and continue to reside there.”

“Documents indicating the address of the person can show continued residence after the end of the transition period. “

Member comments

  1. It would be useful if the article contained a link to the original document

  2. This is a useful article! Do you have a link to the Commission’s communication?

    [Slight correction to the title: WA beneficiaries are not only British]

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For members

TRAIN TRAVEL

EXPLAINED: How to not be ‘bumped’ from an overcrowded Austrian train

Austrian trains have been overly crowded recently, with some people who had valid tickets having to be removed for "safety reasons". Here's how to make sure you get to your destination.

EXPLAINED: How to not be 'bumped' from an overcrowded Austrian train

Train travel is a safe and relatively comfortable way to get around Austria, but there is still much to do to make these journeys better for travellers, especially for commuters.

In Austria, a combination of high fuel prices, the adoption of the subsidised Klimaticket, and Vienna’s new short-term parking system, combined with other factors including a green surge and nice weather, has led to an increase in the search for train travel.

The operator ÖBB expects an even higher surge in the next few days, as warm weather meets holidays in Austria. This has led to several journeys being overcrowded, with people travelling standing up or being removed from trains when they reach capacity and the number of people compromises safety.

READ ALSO: Half-price Europe train tickets on offer in Interrail flash sale

“Safety is the top priority. If the train is too full to be guided safely, passengers must be asked to get off. If they don’t do it voluntarily, we have no choice but to get the police. This happens very rarely,” Bernhard Rieder from ÖBB told broadcaster ORF during an Ö1 interview.

Why are trains overcrowded?

There are several reasons for the surge in train travel, but they boil down to two things: rising costs for other means of transportation and environmental worries.

With galloping inflation, Austrians have seen prices of fuel climbing, and as the war in Ukraine continues, there is no likelihood of lower petrol prices any time soon.

At the same time, since March, Vienna (the destination for many domestic tourists and commuters) has instituted a new short-term parking system, basically removing free parking in the streets of the capital.

Driving has become more expensive when everything else seems to be costly, and many Austrians turn to train travel. Particularly for those who are holders of the Klimaticket, a yearly subsidised card that allows for unlimited travel for just over €1,000 – early buyers could get a hold of the ticket for under €900.

READ ALSO: Nine German expressions that perfectly sum up spring in Austria

The ticket allows travellers to “hop on and hop off” as they wish, making occupancy more unpredictable. However, it is possible to reserve seats even if you have them, and there are low-budget bundles for commuters.

The Klimaticket was created in an effort with the Environmental Ministry, looking to increase the use of greener transport alternatives in Austria.

The environmental concern is also one of the reasons why train travel is on the rise globally – travelling by train is also more convenient in many cases, with comfortable seats, free wifi, a dining area and the fact that you can start and end your journey in central stations instead of far-away airports.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Trains are in fashion so why is rail travel across Europe still so difficult?

Why won’t ÖBB only sell as many tickets as there are train seats?

A reasonable question, but that is not possible with the way train journeys operate in Austria – and in most countries.

Some tickets are “open” and flexible, meaning that people can board any train from a specific time. These are particularly useful for commuters who might be late leaving work, for example.

Additionally, holders of the Klimaticket and other regional yearly offers don’t need to buy tickets. They only need to show their Klimaticket card with an ID once checked.

READ ALSO: Austria’s nationwide public transport ‘climate ticket’ now available

What is ÖBB doing to avoid overcrowding?

After the several incidents of overcrowding when people even had to leave their trains despite having valid tickets, ÖBB announced it would bring additional trains for the peak season around the holidays (May 26th, June 5th and 6th and June 16th), increasing the number of seats by “thousands”, according to a press statement.

What can I do to guarantee my journey?

Despite the increase in offer, the operator still warns that “on certain trains, demand can still exceed capacity”.

The best way to try and guarantee your journey, according to ÖBB, is by reserving a seat.

READ ALSO: One day in Vienna: How to spend 24 hours in the Austrian capital

“A seat reservation is the best way to use the most popular train connections. Starting at €3, you can reserve a seat in ÖBB trains in Austria”.

Reservations are available online at tickets.oebb.at the ÖBB app, at the ÖBB ticket counter, and at the ÖBB customer service at 05-1717.

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