Starting in 2022, travellers to the EU will need to apply to the ETIAS
The European Commission has declared plans to introduce the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) by the end of 2022. The ETIAS will be an electronic system that authorizes and keeps track of people entering EU borders.
Non-EU visitors will need to be ETIAS-approved prior to entering the Schengen Zone. The Schengen Zone is an area comprised of 26 European countries that allow free travel between their borders. This area does not exclusively comprise of EU countries as it also includes non-EU territories such as Norway and Iceland. The ETIAS also extends to countries in the Schengen area that do not fully apply the Schengen regulations, such as Croatia, Cyprus, and Romania.
The approval requirement applies only to people who can currently travel to the EU visa-free. This includes citizens of Australia, the UK and the USA. In order to continue to travel visa-free, such citizens must register into the system. They will then be permitted to remain for up to 90 days within each 180-day period.
Note that an ETIAS will not be required if entering the Schengen area by rail or a private vehicle.
Applications to the ETIAS
The ETIAS application will be found online via a public website or mobile app. To apply individuals will need to provide name, place of birth, gender, nationality, and other relevant information. This includes health status and criminal record.
It will be necessary to hold a valid passport and applicants between the ages of 18 and 70 will pay an application fee of €7 (£5.95). The application should take no more than 10 minutes.
An automated system will then check for health and security risks. If the applicant is eligible, authorization will be received via e-mail within minutes. This will be the case for over 95% of applications. However, in some cases the application will be manually processed with a maximum wait of 30 days. Such delays should be rare, occurring only in exceptional cases.
Should the application be approved, it will remain valid for 3 years or until the relevant passport expires.
History and Cost
Plans to create and enforce the ETIAS were made in 2016 and formally confirmed in 2018. The initial targeted launch date was January 1, 2021 with the intention that the system would become mandatory for travellers at the end of 2022.
However, after delays, the European authorities have announced the end of 2022 as a new launch period, with the system becoming mandatory in 2023. No exact dates have yet been given.
The ETIAS is estimated to cost €212.1 million in development and €85 million annually in maintenance and operations. The system should be financially self-sustaining, with fee revenue recovering costs. The predicted revenue for 2023 is €200 million.
Multiple motivating reasons have been given for the planned emergence of the ETIAS. These include
- Increased security
- Improved management of European country borders
- Decreasing crime and terrorism
- Preventing irregular and illegal migration
- Reducing application times
- Further support for the EU’s visa liberalization policy
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