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ETIAS and the implications for travel to the EU - Will it finally be implemented in 2024?

If you are planning a trip for less than 90 days to the Schengen area in the near future, you might ask yourself whether you have to apply for the new travel authorisation ETIAS or maybe you don't need a visa at all. Originally, the new entry and exit system ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) was supposed to be introduced in 2021.

After several delays and postponements to 2022 and then 2023, the launch has now been postponed again. According to the current status, ETIAS is expected to be fully operational by the beginning of 2024.

EU Flag and capture: ETIAS in 2024? What does it mean for me?
ETIAS 2024 Travel to EU

You can find out more information about how the ETIAS system works, who will be affected, and what the goals are through the launch of ETIAS in our blog post from Feb. 9, 2023.

Significance for travel

The ETIAS travel authorisation only affects people who want to enter the country from a visa-exempt country. For countries requiring a visa, a Schengen visa is still required for entry. Currently, about 60 countries are visa-exempt for the Schengen area. If a country has concluded a visa liberalisation procedure with the Schengen states, residents can currently travel visa-free to Schengen countries for 90 days within a 180-day period.

However, starting in 2024, visa-free citizens will also be required to present a travel authorisation (ETIAS). It is irrelevant whether the entrants are planning a vacation, traveling on business, coming to Europe for medical treatment or just passing through. As a result of Brexit, this also applies to United Kingdom nationals. Nationals of Iceland, the Principality of Liechtenstein and Norway are exempt from the ETIAS requirement.

Consequences of ETIAS

As soon as ETIAS is operational, third-country nationals entering the Schengen area who are exempt from the visa requirement will have to register and obtain authorisation before traveling. While this means additional work for travellers, the introduction of travel authorisation brings some benefits.

The system will cross-check travellers' data with EU security, border and migration management information systems before they travel, helping to identify in advance individuals who may pose a security or health risk or violations of migration rules.

ETIAS contributes to the modernisation of security, border, and migration management information systems. Information regarding travellers' entry and exit was previously processed in separate systems and stored in disconnected systems. Now, employees of law enforcement, border control and migration authorities will be able to access the relevant information more quickly and systematically. These innovations will make it possible to correctly identify persons crossing EU borders and contribute to combating identity fraud, improving border management and enhancing security.

Thus, the consequence of ETIAS is, in particular, increased protection of travellers and residents of EU countries.

What documents do I need for an ETIAS application and how can I submit the application?

The ETIAS online application should be easy to submit for everyone. Therefore, the application form can be easily filled in either through the official ETIAS website or the ETIAS mobile application. Information on whether the application has been approved will then be sent by e-mail. The application for the ETIAS travel permit will cost seven euros. The ETIAS travel authorisation is linked to the traveler's passport and is valid for up to three years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first. Anyone obtaining a new passport must apply for a new ETIAS Travel Authorisation. For minors, their legal guardians must apply for ETIAS.

It is anticipated that most applications (approximately 97 percent) will be automatically approved within a few minutes. The remaining three percent will be manually reviewed by the ETIAS Central Office and national offices.

To apply for an ETIAS in a few minutes, one needs the following documents:

  • Valid passport

  • An e-mail address

  • Debit or credit card to pay the application fee

  • First and last name, date of birth and place of residence

  • Telephone number

At the end, still need to answer some questions, including safety and health questions, such as:

  • Education and work experience questions

  • Information about the first EU country you want to travel to

  • Questions about health status

  • Other questions about travels in war zones or conflict regions

  • Questions about previous criminal records

Why has the introduction of the ETIAS travel authorisation been postponed again?

The introduction of ETIAS has already been postponed 4 times. This was due to the fact that there was still work to be done on the technical implementation and also because of Covid. In addition, Eurostar, Euro-Tunnel and other operators have been concerned about the collection of facial and fingerprint data to feed into ETIAS. The infrastructure of many airports, ports, train stations and land crossings was initially unable to handle such data collection. In addition, implementing a new digital permit system is a huge expense. These travel authorisation systems are linked to dozens of databases and other applications, many of which are unique to both EU and non-EU countries. As a result, integration is a technical challenge.

The delay has now allowed more time to build capacity and ensure that systems are ready.

Will the ETIAS travel authorisation actually be introduced in 2024?

According to communications from the EU Commission, a decision to launch ETIAS is not expected until 2024. However, the introduction of the ETIAS was also announced earlier. Whether it will actually be implemented in 2024 will probably depend on whether the Commission can reach agreement on all the points to be discussed. However, it cannot be ruled out that the entry into force will continue to be delayed. Also, no exact date has yet been set for the introduction of the ETIAS.

However, there has now been enough time to overcome all the technical and personnel challenges in the last 3 years. Therefore, the chances are now good that in 2024 the implementation of ETIAS can be made. It is important for all persons who may have already booked travel from a visa-exempt country to Europe for 2024 to keep an eye on the development regarding the introduction of ETIAS. Because if the introduction of ETIAS is decided, an entry without granted permission is no longer possible without further ado.

Susann Chahin

Legal Trainee

Artemis Law

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