A new travel authorization system is set to be introduced in Europe by 2023, requiring some visitors from outside the European Schengen Zone to register before visiting.
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) was initially slated to be rolled out in 2021 but the EU recently announced that it won’t be fully operational until May 2023. As part of the scheme, some visitors who live outside the EU will have to register and pay a €7 fee.
When it was first announced back in 2019, reports around the world referred to the new system as a ‘visa’, which the European Commission was quick to point out is incorrect. More than 60 countries have visa-free access to the European Union, which won’t change.
But residents of those countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Israel, Singapore, Mexico, and more, will have to register to enter the EU under the ETIAS scheme starting next year.
Residents of countries that need a visa to enter the EU for short-term stays are exempt from the new scheme.
Visitors can apply for the ETIAS online © Getty Images
How do travelers apply for an ETIAS?
These visitors must apply online through the ETIAS, using their passport and answering questions that include information about any previous criminal record, presence in conflict zones, and any orders to leave a territory. This works similarly to the US ESTA, conducting a quick, automated security check on visitors before allowing them entry.
The application will cost €7 (£6 / US$7.42) and it’s estimated that 95% of people will get a positive response within minutes. Out of the remaining applications, 3-4% may need a little longer to process while just 1-2% will be forwarded for a longer, manual review with the potential for refusal. The ETIAS will then be valid for three years.
Where is the ETIAS needed for travel?
Airlines will need to check passports before boarding to ensure you’ve been approved. If you get to a border check without securing the authorization, you will be denied entry.
Perhaps confusingly, the ETIAS will not be needed for every EU country but rather for those in the Schengen Area, who have abolished all controls at their mutual borders. Currently, Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus, and Croatia do not fall within that area so an ETIAS will not be required to travel to those European countries.
The Commission says the new system will improve security while reinforcing its commitment to greater access to visa-free travel.