Citizens from at least 60 countries traveling to Europe will, as of 2024, need an authorization to enter the European Union, called ETIAS.
The European Union announced in 2018 that it created the European Travel Information and Authorization System, ETIAS (or ETIAS for short), which will require “a pre-travel assessment of security and migration risks for travelers benefiting from visa-free access to the Schengen Area.”
The Schengen Area is a zone of 26 European countries that have no internal borders and allow people to move freely between them, including countries such as Spain, France, Greece, Germany, Italy and Poland.
Currently, citizens of several Latin American countries and the United States can travel to Europe for up to 90 days without any type of travel authorization.
Travelers who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area, including U.S. citizens, will have to apply for ETIAS authorization before visiting the Schengen Area.
The long-awaited scheme was supposed to be launched in November this year. But it was delayed until 2024.
Here’s what you need to know.
Is ETIAS a visa?
NO, ETIAS is not a visa, it is an authorization to travel to the European Union.
The European Commission clarifies that citizens of countries that do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area will still not need one. What changes is that travelers will have to process the ETIAS permit prior to their trip.
“ETIAS will be a simple, fast and convenient system for visitors and, in more than 95% of cases, will result in a positive response within a few minutes,” the European Commission says on its website.
To obtain this document you will not have to go to a consulate, you will not have biometric data taken or information like that collected during the visa process, says the European Commission. By contrast, while visas are processed in a matter of days or even months, ETIAS “only takes a few minutes” to process online.
“The ETIAS travel authorization will be a necessary and quick procedure for all visa-exempt travelers that will allow them to avoid bureaucracy and delays when presenting themselves at the borders. EIAVS will fully respect this visa-free status, facilitate the crossing of the Schengen external border and allow visa-free visitors to benefit from their status,” says the European Commission.
How long will ETIAS be valid?
ETIAS will be valid for three years and is valid for an unlimited number of entries, according to the European Commission.
How much does it cost to process the permit?
Travelers between 18 and 70 years of age will have to pay a one-time fee of 7 euros (about US$ 8) for the travel permit and it will be valid for three years.
Travelers under 18 and over 70 are exempt from this fee.
From when will this permit be required?
According to the European Commission’s website, the ETIAS permit is expected to be operational from 2024, although it does not give a more specific date.
At the moment the ETIAS system is not operating, no traveler data is being collected and the European Commission “envisages transitional measures to ensure a smooth roll-out of the system”.
Which countries need ETIAS?
This document will only apply to citizens of countries and territories that do not require visas to enter the Schengen Area. Citizens of European Union member states and Schengen Area countries will not need ETIAS.
For example: a citizen of Norway traveling to your country from Latin America via Portugal will not need ETIAS, as Norway is a member of the Schengen Area even though it is not a state of the European Union.
Currently, citizens of 60 countries that do not require a visa to enter the European Union will need this permit.
The countries of the American continent that will need the ETIAS permit are: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, United States, Uruguay and Venezuela.
For which countries does this permit not apply?
ETIAS does not apply to travelers from countries that require a visa to enter Europe. Currently, the countries in the Americas that are in this situation are: Belize, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Suriname.
What do the European Union’s new border rules mean for travelers?
Currently, EU border authorities have little information on visa-exempt travelers, so ETIAS will address this “information gap,” says the EU.
With ETIAS, the European Union seeks to identify “security risks, irregular migration or epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors traveling” to the Schengen area. In addition, says the European Commission, the document will facilitate border crossings for travelers who do not pose such security and public health risks.
“After completing an online application form, the system will perform checks with EU border and security information systems and, in the vast majority of cases, issue a travel authorization within minutes. In limited cases, where additional checks on the traveler are required, the issuance of the travel authorization may take up to 30 days,” the European Commission says on its website.
With this document, “the authorities will receive vital information necessary to assess the potential risks of persons traveling to the European Union and, if necessary, a travel authorization could be refused,” the European Commission adds.
According to Frontex, there are almost 1,900 border crossings in the European Union and it is estimated that by 2025 there will be 887 million border crossings (2014 estimated at 565 million border crossings). The European Union estimates that approximately one third of border crossings will be by non-EU nationals, so ETIAS seeks to control security issues in the region.
How will it work?
ETIAS will work as follows:
Before traveling, interested parties will have to fill out an application, via internet, with basic data (name, age, occupation, passport number, country of entry to Europe). In addition, they will have to answer a questionnaire on safety and health issues, among others. Registration, in principle, should not take more than 10 minutes.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.