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EU: the new ETIAS online travel authorization

The new European Travel Information Authorization System (ETIAS) aims at facilitating travel to Europe and improving travel security. The system is expected to be operational from 2025.

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The European Commission first discussed the ETIAS authorization in April 2016 in the Communication “Stronger and Smarter Information Systems for Borders and Security” and adopted the proposal on November 16, 2016.

After negotiations with the European Parliament and the Council, the ETIAS Regulation (EU) 2018/1240 was adopted on September 12, 2018 and entered into force on October 9, 2018. However, the ETIAS authorization system is not currently operational, as its legislative framework is still being completed in conjunction with the European Commission’s Implementing and Delegated Acts.

ETIAS system was supposed to be available from May 2023, however it will not be mandatory until 2025. With a 6-month grace period planned to give both  travelers and employees time to get used to the new system and spot any potential technological issues.

What is the ETIAS authorization system?

First of all, the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is not a visa, but a lighter and more visitor-friendly regime. EU-Lisa is responsible for the current development of the authorization system, which is still NOT operating.

ETIAS will be a largely automated IT system aimed at identifying security, irregular migration or high epidemic risks posed by visa-exempt visitors travelling to the Schengen States. At the same time, it aims at facilitating crossing borders for the vast majority of travellers who do not pose such risks.

The key functions of ETIAS will be to:

  • Verify the information submitted by visa-exempt third country nationals (such as information related to identity, travel document, residence information, contact details etc.), to assess if they pose a risk for irregular migration, security or public health. Foreign nationals will submit the information via an online application ahead of their travel to the EU’s external borders;
  • Automatically process each application submitted via a website or a mobile application against other EU information systems (such as SIS, VIS, Europol’s database, Interpol’s database, the EES, Eurodac, ECRIS), a dedicated ETIAS watch list (established by Europol) and target, proportionate and clearly define screening rules to determine if there are factual indications or reasonable grounds to issue or refuse a travel authorization;
  • Issue travel authorizations. In the case of no hits or elements requiring further analysis, the travel authorization is issued automatically within minutes after the application has been submitted.

Who needs to apply for the ETIAS authorization?

Non-EU nationals who do not need a visa to travel to the Schengen area will have to apply for ETIAS prior to the trip.

Have a look here for the updated list of Countries whose citizens must apply for the ETIAS authorization.

If you are looking for information on Italian Visas, have a look here at the full library of the types of Italian Visas.

Will ETIAS apply to US citizens?

ETIAS applies to citizens outside the EU, as well as American citizens . By the end of 2025, when ETIAS will become operational, all Americans visiting the  Schengen Zone will need to register with ETIAS in order will risk being denied the entry

Will ETIAS apply to UK Citizens?

Since the United Kingdom is now outside the European Union, UK nationals will have  to apply for ETIAS before entering  the Schengen Area.

Why implement the ETIAS system?

This system will  help achieve the objectives of the European Agenda on Security and the European Agenda on Migration, in particular regarding border management and preventing cross-border crime and terrorism.

Thanks to this system, authorities will access vital information necessary to assess potential risks with individuals travelling to the EU. They will then have the possibility to deny such autorization in case of potential risks.

Authorities will access the information in full respect of fundamental rights and data protection principles.

Schengen participating States will be able to manage their external borders more effectively and improve internal security. Travellers will receive confirmation to access the Country before their trip, thus substantially reducing the number of refusals of entry.

This will also facilitate legal travel across Schengen Countries.

Overall, the ETIAS authorization system will:

  • facilitate border checks;
  • avoid bureaucracy and delays for travellers when showing up at the borders;
  • ensure a coordinated and harmonised risk assessment of third-country nationals.

Nationals of visa waiver countries will still be able to travel without a visa. Nonetheless, they will have to obtain the travel authorization prior to travelling to the Schengen Area.

How will the ETIAS Europe system work?

The ETIAS travel authorization will be a mandatory pre-condition for entry to the Schengen States. Authorities will check it together with the travel documents at the border when entering the EU. Applicants will be able to apply via the official website or mobile app 96 hours prior to their travel date. The application fee is €7,00 and will take less than 10 minutes to complete.

How long does the approval take?

After filling in the online application form, the system will conduct checks against EU information systems for borders and security. The system will usually issue the authorization within minutes.

In case of further checks, the release of the travel authorization could take up to 30 days.

Once approved and released, the authorization is valid for three years  and can be used for stays of up to 90 days in a six months period.

ETIAS may be cancelled if the criteria for its release no longer exist or if the applicant’s passport expires.

How much will ETIAS authorization cost?

Travellers will have to cover a one-time €7.00 fee for the application, with people under the age of 18 and above the age of 70 exempted from the payment.

Transit passengers will need ETIAS?

ETIAS is mandatory also for transit reasons. Passengers will not be able to move through without the approved authorization.

Do I need ETIAS  if I have a Schengen Visa?

ETIAS authorization is not required for holders of a valid Schengen Visa

When will ETIAS be operational?

To date, the authorization system is not yet operational, but it should be starting from the first half of 2025.

For further information regarding the ETIAS Europe system, you can also refer to the official memo (PDF) for additional questions and answers on ETIAS.

Regulatory Framework

Regulation (EU) 2018/1240

Reference

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