These FAQs provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the ETIAS program. Should you have any comments, additional suggestions or further questions, please feel free to contact us here.
What is the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS)?
ETIAS, which stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System is an electronic system introduced to keep track of all visitors entering Europe. Proposed in November of 2016, the commission recommended the creation of a travel authorization system for Europe to ensure the security of all citizens and smooth transit for visitors from over sixty countries around the world.
ETIAS utilizes extensive security checks prior to being issued. The information gathered will be held, added to and shared amongst all countries within the ETIAS system. An automated system which all nationals from outside of the EU whom currently enjoy a visa-free travel process will now be required to complete a quick and easy online process to secure permission to enter the ETIAS member countries.
Information gathered during security checks will help to determine whether the person travelling has plans to merely visit, or is planning on overstaying and posing a migration risk.
A mandatory requirement, the time for approval will in most cases be a matter of minutes, in some cases, where additional checking is required – this can take longer.
ETIAS has been introduced for the purposes of safety and security for member countries as well as travelers and residents within those nations.
At present, only travelers entering via the Schengen visa system are compelled to give information relating to their travel. With the new ETIAS system in place, all travelers will be compelled to submit an application for travel.
Travelers will be subject to various checks allowing countries to bar entry to people they deem to be undesirable; a security risk, a health risk or an unauthorized traveler.
An ETIAS is not a visa, it is a travel authorization. A Schengen visa application involves an in-depth application and interview where individual travel plans and requirements are considered.
An ETIAS is an electronic permit allowing visa-free movement. ETIAS is valid for movement within the participating countries for up to 90 days.
For 95% of applicants, a positive approval will be issued in a matter of minutes. This is a solely online process and does not require you to visit a consulate to obtain. Biometric data and one-on-one questioning are not required to obtain an ETIAS, and overall this is a much more straightforward process than an application for a visa.
The removal or loosening of visa requirements is a vital tool for developing partnerships and strong relationships with other countries, including those in the third world. By making transit to and from ETIAS countries a more straightforward process – this helps to increase both business and tourism to the EU as a whole.
The utilization of a travel authorization scheme allows all member countries to ensure the safety of their citizens and tourists from those who may wish harm on the aforementioned individuals. Thus complementing and building upon the current visa infrastructure.
In order to enter an ETIAS member state, all travelers currently holding a visa-exempt status will now be required to complete an online application through a dedicated website or mobile app.
The process of completing this form will take approximately ten minutes and should consist of a simple questionnaire with no request for documentation or paperwork beyond your passport or travel documents.
It is also possible for third parties to submit an application on your behalf, but this must be clearly stated during the application process.
To proceed with your application, you must pay a fee if you are over the age of 18 years, for minors – the application is free. Payment must be completed during the process or your application will not be submitted for review. You may pay for your ETIAS application using several payment methods.
Around 95% of applicants can expect an automatic approval which will be sent via email within minutes of completing the application in full. For the remaining 5%, around 3-4% will be approved with a longer waiting time, and 1% can expect a negative outcome.
After the application has been processed, all applicants will receive an email stating the status of their approval, and if denied – given a reason for this denial.
Within minutes of you submitting your application, you should get a response telling you that your application has been received and whether your application was successful, or if it will be subject to further investigation.
If your ETIAS is denied you will receive a message telling you the reasons for the denial. You will be able to either adjust your application and resubmit or appeal a decision if you feel it is incorrect.
Before embarking on your journey, the air or sea carrier which you’re travelling with are required to confirm the status of your ETIAS approval and travel document validity prior to entering the Schengen Zone.
For land travel, it isn’t yet known when checks will be mandatory for companies to confirm ETIAS approval.
When arriving at a Schengen zone border crossing, a border guard will review your travel documents and using electronic methods – trigger a search to multiple databases, including the ETIAS database.
This is done to ensure that travellers have the relevant permissions, and are not currently on any watch lists, or no-fly lists. In the case of no valid ETIAS being found, the border guard will immediately refuse entry and make notes in the system relating to the traveler.
If a valid ETIAS is seen on file, the normal border crossing process will then take effect, and the traveler will be given permission to enter the country.
Yes, if the traveler is found to have submitted a fraudulent application or broken any of the ETIAS rules, their ETIAS will no longer be valid.
If the conditions affecting the traveler change after they have received their ETIAS, their travel authorization can be revoked. All border controls have the right to detain a traveler pending investigation of their application.
Citizens of countries that do not currently require a visa to enter the Schengen zone may soon need to apply for an ETIAS at least 96 hours prior to traveling to any member state.
Current immigration rules are quite complex for those requiring a visa to enter the Schengen zone and those that do not. With different requirements based on whether the visitor plans to enter multiple member states, and depending on the reason for their visit i.e business or tourism.
Citizens and residents of other EU countries such as Britain and Ireland have no restrictions or requirements and are able to move freely within the Schengen zone. It is, as yet, unknown as to whether British visitors will need to apply for the ETIAS once it has formally ceased to be a member of the EU.
One of the biggest areas of impact with the introduction of ETIAS is the fact that it will allow citizens from a list of pre-approved countries to easily visit the Schengen zone, this includes countries such as Canada, America, Australia, New Zealand, and those considered “less of a risk”, who at present – do not need a visa.
Based on current rules, ETIAS will not be required for British Citizens, however – this may change once Brexit has come into effect. British nationals (overseas), British Overseas Territories citizens (BOTC), British protected persons (BPP) and British subjects (BS) WILL require an ETIAS.
Once ETIAS has been attached to your passport, you are allowed free access to all Schengen zone countries. Border control do have the authority to deny access to a country if they feel there is a good reason, even if you have an ETIAS attached to your passport.
You must arrive at the country of entry you submitted with your application for ETIAS. Remember that there are countries that belong to the European Union but are not in the Schengen zone, you will not be able to enter those countries using your ETIAS.
An authorized ETIAS does grant you freedom of movement within the EU, however, you may be on occasion subject to additional security checks, and your ETIAS can be revoked at any time by the border authorities if they have a justifiable reason to do so.
ETIAS is currently in development, and not yet released, the expected date for release will be January 2021.
All applications for ETIAS will have to be made online; there will be no telephone or postal applications accepted. Unlike a visa, ETIAS are not being issued by Consulates, so there will be no applications in person either.
Once you have filled in the online application form, the ETIAS can be electronically attached to your passport within minutes if successful. You will then receive an email informing you that your application has been approved.
If there are further checks required prior to your ETIAS being issued, you may not hear anything for 72 hours. This is due to manual checks taking longer to conduct and may, in exceptional circumstances, take as long as four weeks.
If you already have a Schengen Visa, you will not require an ETIAS. Your border crossings will continue as normal, showing your visa to Border Control. If you are eligible for the ETIAS, you can apply for one when your Schengen zone visa expires.
With the previous visa-free crossing for many travellers while within the EU has resulted in little to no information being known about those visiting the EU – the ETIAS closes the gap on this missing information, and like a full-blown visa – allows border guards to cross-check information with multiple agencies to ensure the traveler is not a threat.
ETIAS will work using infrastructure which has already been put in place, thus allowing a smooth transition to this new requirement for those visiting ETIAS member states.
Utilizing software from the EES communication infrastructure, ETIAS will also make use of the Visa Information System (VIS), Europol data, the Schengen Information System (SIS), Eurodac and the European Criminal Records Information System (ECRIS).
The main reason for the introduction of the ETIAS scheme is to protect the citizens and residents of member countries and those travelling within the area.
Currently, travellers requiring a visa for Schengen zone entry are the only ones required to submit information relating to their travel, whereas – with the implementation of the ETIAS scheme, information will be gathered on ALL travelers, thus making a more secure and safe environment for the individuals and families residing within the EU, and, of course, all pre-authorized visitors.
Thanks to the numerous security checks, all countries will be able to bar entry to visitors they deem to be a security risk, a health risk, or a migration risk.
Comprising of three units, the ETIAS Information System, The ETIAS National Units, and the ETIAS Central Unit, each of which have their own role within the smooth running of the ETIAS system.
The ETIAS Information System will be charged with:
Managing a Central System to process each application.
In each of the Member States, there will be a National Uniform Interface which will connect the national infrastructures and the Central System.
Secure communication infrastructure for liaising between the Central System and National Uniform Interfaces.
Desktop website, and mobile applications for iPhone and Android devices.
Applicant tools including online applications, email verification services, account management, and user personal data management.
The ETIAS Central Unit will be charged with four main areas. This unit is to be established and managed by the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, operating 24/7, and will sit within the legal and policy framework. They will focus on the following:
Applicant data storage
Travel application verification – where an application is flagged for further investigation
Testing, strengthening, and implementing ETIAS screening framework.
Auditing the application process, and screening rules with an emphasis on data protection, privacy rules, and fundamental rights.
ETIAS National Units are to be set up in each of the member states, and they will have the main responsibility of risk assessment and making the ultimate decision on travel authorization for applicants who have been rejected by the online automated application process. These units will also be tasked with providing information relating to the procedure which will occur if an appeal is to take place.
ETIAS Screening Board is to be made up of one representative from each ETIAS National Unit, Europol, and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. Created as part of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency, and will work on an advisory level. Their principal role will be in the definition, evaluation, and revision of risk indicators, and, of course, to implement the ETIAS watchlist.
Fundamental Rights Guidance Board will determine and assess the effect on fundamental rights from the application process and relay their findings back to the ETIAS Screening Board. Made up of representatives from the European Data Protection Board, The European Data Protection Supervisor, the Fundamental Rights Agency, and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
The ETIAS watchlist is a list of individuals suspected of a serious criminal offense, individuals with whom evidence suggests are likely to partake in terrorist activity or other serious criminal offenses. Upon application, each applicants information will be cross-checked through multiple EU databases, including the watchlist. This will be created, and individuals added based on information from Europol and Member States.
As a hub for EU security information, Europol has the ideal position to assess applicants as they are privy to information not available to each member state. They will have access to this, alongside other EU databases, and together with the member countries – input the data into the watchlist and be charged with ensuring that this is correct and always current.
When National Units are informed of a hit coming back from the database, they will consult with Europol to find out the reason behind the hit, and thus have all information needed to make an informed decision. Europol will also play a key role in defining the screening rules of ETIAS.
The agency for the operational management of large-scale informational systems, with a focus on freedom, security, and justice, will work in cooperation to develop the ETIAS information system.
Their role will be on the technical site to manage the creation of the public facing website, mobile apps, online application process, and management for users to check on the progress of their application.
Building on the back of existing information systems will help to minimize costs of development of the ETIAS system. Other systems which are still to be created include the Entry/Exit System (EES) which will be developed and launched in unison with ETIAS to ensure the most cost-effective operation.
Development costs are expected to come in at €212.1 million with yearly operation costs expected to cost €85 million. ETIAS has been developed in a way to allow it to be financially self-sustaining, as the ongoing costs will be covered by application fee revenue.
ETIAS member state legislation will apply to all countries that are currently part of the Schengen area, including those which do not yet fully apply the Schengen acquis, including Croatia, Cyprus, Bulgaria, and Romania.
ETIAS Schengen is your source of important information and updates about ETIAS, including the latest news and reports you should know regarding its introduction, enforcement, as well as ETIAS Visa application.