ETIAS stands for Electronic Travel and Information Authorisation System. The European Union has been working on its development since the plan for its creation was first introduced in November of 2016.
Foreign nationals from visa-exempt countries will need to obtain an ETIAS travel authorisation to visit 26 countries that are members of the Schengen Area. Unlike a visa for Europe, eligible travellers will be able to apply for their authorisation by completing an online application.
Strengthening the EU’s external borders is a top priority. The ETIAS system for Europe will contribute to ensuring internal security and the preservation of freedom of movement within the Schengen Area.
The ETIAS system to launch in 2022
The EU announced that the system will be introduced towards the end of 2022. The development of ETIAS has faced a long process. Proposals and legislation for the system had to be approved by the European Parliament. Several reports were created by the European Commission to detail the conditions of this new visa waiver.
On September 5th, 2018, the European Council adopted the regulation to establish the ETIAS System. It was later signed and adopted by the European Parliament.
The organization responsible for the creation of the ETIAS system is eu-LISA, which is the European Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems. Currently, the system is being developed to be ready for its launch in 2022.
The eu-LISA agency plays an important role in the security of the EU. They manage several security systems that include:
- Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II)
- Visa Information System (SIS)
All of these systems are instrumental to secure the external borders of the Schengen Area, implement migration policies, and identify asylum seekers.
The ETIAS system will screen foreign travellers’ data against several security databases to ensure that they will not pose a threat to the region. If the system identified a red flag, the application will be reviewed manually.
The system will also be able to determine whether a candidate has applied with a reported lost or stolen passport.
How will ETIAS impact travellers in the future?
ETIAS will not have a huge impact on most travellers. Currently, third-country nationals who wish to visit Europe are either visa-exempt or are required to apply for a short-term Schengen visa at a Schengen member state embassy or consulate.
Those foreign nationals who are currently visa-exempt will need to complete an online application to get their ETIAS visa waiver to visit the Schengen Area.
To fill out an ETIAS online form, the applicant will need:
- To be a citizen from one of the eligible countries (currently, over 60 countries have visa-waiver agreements with the EU)
- Have a valid passport, with a minimum validity of 3 months beyond the intended stay in Europe
- Have a valid email address
When entering information on the ETIAS form, the petitioner will be asked to provide their personal information such as full name, address, employment, date of birth, country and city of birth, and nationality. Passport details must be accurately entered, including issuing and expiration dates. Contact information must also be included on the form (phone and email).
The ETIAS form will include a series of security questions in regard to the travellers’ health conditions and past travels.
To finalize the application process, the ETIAS petitioner will need to pay the visa waiver for Europe fee with a debit or credit card.
Most applications will take less than 10 minutes to complete. After the ETIAS form has been submitted, it is expected that it will be processed in less than 72 hours.
If approved, the candidate will receive an email with the status of their ETIAS travel authorisation.
ETIAS will be valid for a period of 3 consecutive years, or until the passport expires. If the passport expires before the electronic visa waiver, the holder will need to apply again for a new ETIAS. The travel electronic authorisation cannot be renewed or extended.
An ETIAS holder can stay in the Schengen Area for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. It’s a multiple entry visa waiver.
ETIAS authorises entry to the Schengen Area. When applying, the visitor will need to indicate the country of first intended entry, even if they wish to visit other countries within the region.
It is expected that the introduction of ETIAS will contribute to making Europe safer to visit.
What is the Schengen Area?
The Schengen Area, which is composed of 22 European Union countries and 4 European Free Trade Association member states, and 3 microstates (Monaco, the Vatican, and San Marino), allows the free movement of people within its territory.
ETIAS will be valid to travel to the Schengen Area, which does not include Ireland or the United Kingdom. Other countries not included in the region are:
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
- North Macedonia
The Schengen Agreement was first signed in 1985 by 5 countries. The agreement led to more countries joining in the following years, and the creation of the Schengen Area, which now guarantees free movement to over 400 million EU nationals.
Schengen cooperation has enhanced the freedom of its citizens. It allows them to cross internal borders without having to go through border checks. This has been beneficial for Europeans and citizens from visa-exempt countries.
ETIAS will authorise its holders to travel to any of the 26 member states in the Schengen Area, which include Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain.