The Schengen countries are getting ready to launch an electronic travel authorization system, in order to ensure better management of international travelers.
Currently, around sixty countries have signed an agreement with the Schengen countries to exempt their nationals from short-stay visas. These people can therefore freely enter the Schengen space and circulate there for reasons of tourism, business, private or leisure for a period of 90 days per period of 180 days. Their entry and stay are not subject to the prior issuance of a visa via the consular authorities.
In a context of migration crisis and surveillance of terrorism, the European authorities have agreed to ensure reinforced control of their external borders, via the establishment of a European Travel Information and Authorization System “ETIAS”. This should be effective by 2024.
Other countries have already set up such a system: the USA with ESTA or Canada with ETA for example. The ETIAS system will have many similarities with them, and its technical modalities will be as follows:
- The request will be filed online, in a couple of minutes. The applicant will be asked to provide information on their identity, the purpose and dates of their next trip, and the country of entry into the Schengen area. The copy of the passport will need to be provided.
- The system will automatically verify the applicant’s information. If no obstacles are raised, travel authorization will be granted immediately. In case of difficulty, it will be handled manually in a few days (maximum 2 weeks, except in case of an interview).
- Each adult will need to pay €7 for the processing of their request. People over 70 will apply free of charge.
- The authorization will be valid for 3 years or until the passport expires.
Every year, around 30 million people cross the external borders of the Schengen area. Most of them will now be subject to the ETIAS requirement prior to their entry. It should be noted that nationals of Member States of the European Union will not be subject to this requirement for their entry and free movement, even if they are nationals of a country that is not a member of the Schengen area (eg Republic of Ireland, Romania, Bulgaria). Similarly, the ETIAS authorization should cover entry into Bulgaria and Romania, although a check will remain if the traveler also wishes to travel to the Schengen area.
The launch is currently scheduled for the end of 2023, so we encourage all international travelers anticipating a short stay in Schengen before year ends to integrate this ETIAS authorization request into their travel plans.