The launch of Europe’s new European Travel Information and Authorisation System, or ETIAS, has been delayed – again.
The system, for use by nationals of countries that are exempt from needing visas, such as Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and the US, involves an online registration and a €7 processing fee for visitors to Europe aged between 18 and 70. It will not now come into operation until well after its due date.
Possible roll out in 2025
Originally intended for implementation in mid-2024, ETIAS has now been pushed back to a tentative May 2025. The reason for the tentativeness? ETIAS is dependant on the roll out of another new EU border security system, the Entry/Exit System or EES. Although the EES is a separate system to be used by third countries with no visa exemption arrangements with the EU, ETIAS cannot get underway until the EES is in place.
“Both systems are deeply linked,” an EU official explained. “Though the Entry/Exit can function properly without the ETIAS, it is impossible for the latter to become operational without the EES,”.
Anitta Hipper, the European Commission’s Spokesperson for Home Affairs, Migration and Internal Security, has confirmed to SchengenVisaInfo.com that, “The entry into operation of ETIAS can only take place five to six months after the entry into operation of the EES.”
EU-Lisa to confirm
With the EES not expected to come online until mid-2024, the implications for ETIAS are clear. Though the commission’s website remains mute on the matter so far, the French have confirmed ETIAS will not be in place before 2025, while the Swiss have suggested it could be even later.
As we await EES therefore, all eyes will be on EU-Lisa, an EU agency charged with the operational management of freedom, security and justice through large scale IT-systems, to confirm a date for ETIAS.
Once ETIAS is in place, visitors from outside the EU who currently have visa-waiver status, including travellers from the UK, will have to apply for ETIAS authorisation to visit any of the 26 countries in the Schengen Zone. The permission to visit will then remain valid for three years or until the travel documents used in the registration expire.
A new UK system too
Meanwhile, UK Home Office webinars are taking place, as the UK prepares to launch its own Electronic Travel System, or ETA. From October it will apply, in the first instance to visitors from Qatar.
Martin Ferguson, American Express Global Business Travel’s head of public affairs told BTN Europe that corporate travellers, suppliers and tourists need to inform themselves and get “ready for these changes by learning about the scheme via the online government resources available.”
“We want to help raise awareness of the Electronic Travel Authorisation entry scheme so travellers are prepared for upcoming changes to UK entry requirements,” he added.