The rollout of the EU’s new visa waiver system ETIAS has been postponed until 2024. The program, which will require non-EU citizens to apply on a website for pre-approval to visit the EU, was previously scheduled to launch in November 2023, after already being delayed several times. It had originally been announced as scheduled for 2021, then late 2022 and then in the first part of 2023.
The latest delay has not yet been made official with an announcement, but there have been changes on the system’s official website. “It is expected that the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (Etias) will be operational in 2024,” reads the Travel Europe site. According to Euronews, the delay has other implications, such as the fact that there are currently not many ways for EU countries to verify whether non-EU travelers have stayed more than the allowed 90 days.
The aviation industry seems to be supportive of the delay. “The EES will be a game changer for how the EU’s borders are managed. There are, however, a number of issues which must be resolved to ensure a smooth roll out and operation of the new system so that air passengers do not face disruptions,” a joint statement from the European region of Airports Council International (ACI), Airlines for Europe (A4E), the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) says.
It’s not just ETIAS that’s experiencing delays; the EU’s entry/exit system (EES), which also focuses on border security, has also been pushed back several times. It will be a new way of collecting information at the border on the arrival and departure of non-EU citizens from the Schengen area, including a fingerprint scan and photo.
ETIAS will require non-EU citizens to apply online for a €7 fee waiver for short-term stays (up to 90 days) in the EU. The process is described as “simple, fast and user-friendly” by the European Commission, with most applications expected to take about 10 minutes. ETIAS approval will last for three years, unless a person’s passport expires before then, as the approval will be linked to their passport. People under 18 or over 70 will not have to pay for the visa waiver but will still need to obtain one.
Individuals will apply online with your details, then checked against EU security information systems. It is expected that the existing provisional website will be updated for this purpose.
Upon entry into the Schengen area, travel documents will be scanned and checked to see if ETIAS approval has been granted. If you do not have prior approval, you will be denied access to the Schengen area. The system is expected to increase security levels at the EU’s borders. According to Euronews, the delays might be linked to challenges with contractors meeting deadlines. Automated EES barriers have to deployed at all international land, maritime and air borders in the Schengen Area.