Holidaymakers have been warned to be on the lookout for scammers targeting those who are unsure of new post-Brexit travel rules.
British people heading to European Union countries from next year will have to apply for a European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) visa four days before travel. It seems that online tricksters are already appearing to be working out how to make money out of unsuspecting travellers ahead of the new rules.
The EU has now issued guidance warning that companies may “engage in abusive practices” to target those applying for the paper work. From November 2023 tourists from 60 countries, including the UK, will have to apply for visa exemption when heading to one of the 27 member countries at least four days before departure, reported The Mirror.
According to the guidance, seen by The Times, there could be “attempts to mislead applicants into believing that their site is the official channel for submitting an Etias application”. It adds: “This may give the false impression that the additional fee charged by the commercial intermediary is a mandatory part of the application process.”
At the moment many companies offer help to Brits heading to the US who need an Etsa as part of the country’s equivalent scheme. They charge for processes like document checks, which is legal but is not technically required.
It is feared that similar practices could start up with the EU visa, as the bloc has announced that third-party companies will be able to sell them. The guidance warns that some sites may make “fraudulent use of the personal or financial data provided by the applicant”.
Ahead of the scheme being launched next year, many websites have already been set up with ‘Etias’ in their domain name, suggesting companies believe their is money to be made from their sale.
Guy Hobbs, editor of Which? Travel, said: “The European Commission has promised that the vast majority of travellers will receive their Etias visa waiver within minutes, so travellers should be very wary of third-party sites promising to fast-track applications for a fee. People should also ignore unsolicited calls or messages inviting them to apply.”
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