There are many changes coming on an EU level that will make travelling to the EU easier and also a lot more difficult for third country citizens who enter the Schengen area.
It is very important to be aware of any new requirements and procedures to come into force. Make sure that your travels to our wonderful continent do not go from dream to nightmare in a heartbeat.
The Entry-Exit System (EES) will have a significant impact on border control in the Schengen area. According to eu-Lisa, the EES and ETIAS are "the most influential electronic travel systems to be implemented worldwide".
What is the difference between EES and ETIAS and how will they affect travellers?
Both EES and ETIAS will contribute to border security in the Schengen area, making our countries safer and providing for a tighter network of control regarding who enters where and when.
The EES will enter into force in 2023. This will be followed by ETIAS in November 2023.
WHAT IS THE EES?
The Entry-Exit System (EES) will record the entry, exit and denied access of third country nationals travelling to Europe through the external borders of the Schengen area. As you can imagine, it is a huge endeavour.
At this moment, entry and exit of the Schengen are monitored solely by passport stamps, the EES will suppose a huge improvement on this antiquated method.
The EES will help other border control systems to manage the flow of travellers and to record data on persons travelling to and from EU Schengen countries. It will apply to non-EU citizens travelling to Schengen space for short visits of up to 90 days in a 180-day period, the usual time any non-EU citizen is allowed in Schengen countries without a residence permit.
Together with other European border schemes such as ETIAS and the Visa Information System (VIS), the EES will improve and speed up border control processes. It will also allow for better detection of identity theft and OVERSTAYERS! So, two sides to one coin. On the one hand, we are glad to obtain more security and on the other side, any travellers who are used to treating their 90 day stay limit in the Schengen area more like a suggestion than an actual enforced rule, will have to think again! Make sure that you plan your travels as if the border control staff knows every entry and exit you made in your previous 180 days by the minute.
To be on the safe side, I recommend that you have a look at our previous article on the 90 days out of 180 days calculation and that you make use of the Schengen Calculator to see how many days you have left to safely enter and leave Schengen space.
EES will introduce the following measures:
Smarter borders: automation of visitor controls.
Centralised registration: control of movements across borders in the Schengen area
By improving the effectiveness and efficiency of border crossings, the EES will increase security and help prevent serious crime and people overstaying their allowed time in Schengen Countries.
WHAT DATA WILL THE ENTRY/EXIT SYSTEM COLLECT?
To achieve its security objectives, the EES will collect specific information on travellers to identify them and to maintain a record of their travels. The following information will be collected:
Access to this data will be limited to Europol, border authorities and visa authorities.
Information relating to border crossings and travel history will also be available to investigating authorities.
ENTRY/EXIT SYSTEM AND BIOMETRIC TECHNOLOGY
Biometric technology will be used to strengthen border security. Four fingerprints will be taken at the first check and matched with EES or VIS data.
In case the traveller does not yet have a file, one will be created. The passport photograph will be compared with the facial image in person. The next time the traveller crosses a border, they will be able to do so simply by facial recognition.
This process is faster and more secure than passport stamping. Passport stamping is time-consuming and vulnerable to forgery. With the new electronic gates and self-service terminals, impersonation will be reduced.
WHAT IS ETIAS?
The European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) visa waiver is a travel authorisation. It will only apply to visa-exempt third country nationals travelling to Europe. It is expected to be fully implemented in November 2023.
The ETIAS system is similar to the US ESTA and will allow Europe to keep more efficient control of who travels to the EU and applies for entry. It is a European visa waiver system that will allow eligible citizens to obtain the appropriate travel permit by completing a simple online form.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN EES AND ETIAS?
The EES is a programme that will register the entry and exit of all third country visitors to Europe, thus replacing the current passport stamping.
The ETIAS travel authorisation will be mandatory for travel to Schengen countries, as well as Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania, as they are in the process of joining the Schengen area.
The ETIAS visa waiver is a travel authorisation for those visiting Europe for leisure or business and is not a substitute for a work visa or a student visa.
This will make it easier for border guards to control border crossings and speed up the entry of visitors from outside the EU. Such visitors will be able to enter via self-service terminals similar to those currently available to EU citizens.
Another difference between Europe's SES and ETIAS systems is the information that is collected through each process.
To obtain an ETIAS permit before visiting Europe, the traveller must complete an online application form with their personal details, contact details and passport information. They must also answer some basic security questions.
In addition, the EES registers each traveller's biometric data, including facial image and fingerprints, upon arrival and departure from the European Union.
WHEN DO EES AND ETIAS AFFECT TRAVELLERS?
As ETIAS is a pre-travel requirement, it will allow the EU to screen travellers before they arrive in Europe. This will enable travellers' data to be checked against various security databases, such as the ETIAS watch list, Europol and Interpol, to detect potential threats. ETIAS will only be granted to travellers who do not pose a risk.
In contrast, the EES will record information every time a third-country national enters or leaves the European area. The EES will verify that a traveller with a short stay visa (single or double entry) has not already used up the number of entries allowed.
ETIAS AND THE EES WILL BE CHECKED PRIOR TO BOARDING
One of the similarities between the two systems is that carriers will check both ETIAS and EES before allowing the passenger to board. Airlines, sea carriers and coaches will only be able to allow boarding to those passengers who have been confirmed by the carrier's interface to be allowed to travel.
Carriers will be responsible for ensuring that passengers they carry have a valid travel authorisation or visa.
WHEN WILL THE EU ENTRY/EXIT SYSTEM BE OPERATIONAL?
The Entry/Exit System was expected to be operational in May 2023. However, this date is no longer considered feasible. An updated timeline is being defined, but the target date for implementation of the EES remains before the end of 2023.
Until the SES is launched, passports will continue to be stamped manually.