The special permits that the United Kingdom and the European Union plan to implement in 2024 for crossing their borders after Brexit will not affect, at least for the time being, the border crossing between La Línea and Gibraltar.
As far as the Rock is concerned, Brussels and London remain focused on the search for an international treaty - which the two sides consider to be at a decisive stage - that envisages the abolition of the fence and would include "provisions to enable the mobility of people and goods while ensuring the full integrity of the Schengen area and the EU internal market", as the Spanish government explained in a parliamentary response last week.
But even if no agreement is reached, the new requirements that the European Union and the United Kingdom plan to implement at their borders would be subject to possible exceptions that would allow the passage through customs in Gibraltar and Gibraltar to be speeded up, an objective that both parties consider indispensable to ensure the prosperity of the area after the divorce that ended on 31 January 2020.
The European Union (EU) is implementing a new travel permit called the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, or ETIAS, which will be mandatory for citizens of countries that do not require a visa to enter the Schengen zone, which encompasses most European nations.
It is not known when ETIAS, which has already been postponed several times, will come into operation, although the system's official websites state that it will come into force in 2024. Neither the UK nor Gibraltar are currently listed as being subject to the requirement.
In principle, 95% of applicants will have to fill in an online form, to which the system will respond within minutes. EU travellers are exempt and have freedom of movement within the bloc, allowing them to spend as much time as they want in many countries. EU residents will also be exempt. But for everyone else entering the bloc from a country that previously did not require a visa, ETIAS will be mandatory. The measure affects about 60 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, which lost freedom of movement after Brexit. The cost per person is 7 euros, for those aged between 18 and 70.
The aim of ETIAS is to strengthen EU security by collecting information on travellers before they arrive in Europe. This will allow authorities to detect possible security threats and risks before travellers enter European territory.
The Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) will be required for tourists, business visitors and students staying in the UK for less than six months, initially from 2024.
The form will take just a few minutes to complete online, which can be done at any time up to a few days before departure. It will require a valid national biometric passport from an eligible country, a valid biometric passport from an eligible country, a valid travel purpose and other travel details, an email address and a credit or debit card. The fee is not yet known.
Once the information is sent to the UK, the application is normally processed and a response is given within 48-72 hours. Generally, visitors will be able to spend 180 days (6 months) in the UK and visit any part of the country.
The ETA is part of the UK's plans to fully digitise its borders by 2025. UK ETA holders will simply need to scan the passport they used to apply when they arrive at the border. The entry permit will be electronically verified.
"The system will give the UK greater control of its borders, allowing us to block threats from entering the country, while giving people and carriers more reassurance," said the UK Home Office, which estimates that around 30 million applications a year will be processed through the eTA system.
Other countries in the world already have such systems in place, such as the United States, which has the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), as well as Australia, New Zealand and Canada.