The European Parliament has approved the final project to implement ETIAS – European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) in the European Union member states. This system will be applicable primarily by the Schengen Area countries, and will apply to travelers from countries that have visa waiver agreements in place with the EU (e.g., United States, Canada, Japan, Israel, Taiwan, South Korea, etc.). ETIAS was proposed first by the European Council in June 2017 and now, the next step for the system to become operational is for the Council to give official approval.
How will ETIAS impact your travel to the EU?
The main purpose behind the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is to strengthen security of the external border controls. As a result, this will prevent future terrorist threats and will help in enhancing management of the immigration flows into the European Union.
Once the program is implemented, starting with 1 January 2021, it is estimated that approximately 30 million people from around 60 countries will need travel authorizations for visiting any European country. Practically, residents of all countries who currently have in place agreements for visa-free travel to the EU will need such authorization.
These are people who are currently permitted to enter the Schengen member states without the need to obtain a visa. On the list there are countries such as: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, United States, Venezuela. Of course, list is not exhaustive.
Nationals of the countries who are required to obtain a regular entry visa for traveling to Schengen countries will not be subject to the Travel Information and Authorization System. Thus, they will still be required to apply for visas to be permitted to enter the Schengen member states.
How will ETIAS work in practice?
There will be a few specific steps that an applicant will have to follow to be able to obtain a “travel authorization”, which will grant him/her the right to enter a Schengen country. For obtaining the authorization, you will first have to check if your country is subject to the ETIAS program. If so, you will have to fulfill an online application following which you will be issued the travel authorization.
During the online application you will have to provide personal information such as: full name, date of birth, passport details, nationality, employment history, previous travels to Europe, and other security information. After you submit the online application, you will be screened across various security data bases. If the system does not detect information on any potential risks, you should be issued the ETIAS within approximately 4 to 5 days.
Given the process described, it is estimated that the online form will take approximately 10 minutes to complete.
Will the authorization have any validity period?
According to information released by authorities, the travel authorization issued under ETIAS will be valid for 3 years. During this period, the owner of an authorization will be allowed to enter the EU member countries for unlimited times. If your passport expires while the authorization is still valid, you will have to apply for a new one.
List of countries whose nationals will be subject to ETIAS:
Antigua and Barbuda
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
United States of America