In August 2022, the EU (European Union) announced a delay in the launch of the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS). The launch was initially planned for early 2022, but it has faced multiple delays due to challenges caused by COVID and other factors.
The first delay postponed the launch to January 2023, followed by another delay to the summer and then to the autumn of 2023. Later in February 2023, the EU announced another delay, which pushed the start in 2024.
What are the consequences from the ETIAS postpone?
The delay in the launch of the ETIAS system is expected to have a positive impact on service providers and intermediaries in the travel sector, especially those involved in travel to EU countries.
Some travel operators, such as Eurostar and Eurotunnel, have expressed concerns about the implementation of the ETIAS system, specifically the capture of fingerprint and facial data. They argue that the infrastructure at various sea and airports, land and rail crossings is currently inadequate to handle this data capture. However, with the delay in the launch of the ETIAS system, these operators now have more time to enhance their capabilities and ensure that the systems are ready for the new requirements.
Moreover, it is believed that airports will have an easier time integrating the ETIAS system into their existing infrastructure as many of them already have the necessary scanning equipment. In contrast, operators of ports, rail, or land crossings are less likely to have this type of equipment or hardware. Overall, the delay in the launch of the ETIAS system is expected to provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to better prepare for its implementation.
Other reasons ETIAS has been postponed?
The delay in launching the ETIAS may be attributed to factors such as technical difficulties, staffing or resourcing concerns, and budgetary constraints.
Developing a new digital authorization system is a complex task that has only been undertaken by a few countries, such as ESTA of the USA and eTA of Canada, among others.
These types of travel authorization systems involve connecting with various applications and databases, some of which are exclusive to non-EU and EU states. Therefore, integrating all of these components into a seamless system presents a significant technical challenge.
In addition, the system must be installed at various border crossings, including airports, land borders, sea ports, and rail stations throughout Europe. This adds to the complexity of the project and requires careful planning to ensure that the system is efficient and effective in managing the flow of travelers.
In early 2022, the first group of the central unit operations in charge of ETIAS finished the training. To ensure the smooth operation of the ETIAS system, the European Union plans to do more recruitments. The ETIAS system consists of approximately seven different components or systems, which include:
- European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol)
- ETIAS National Units
- ETIAS Central Unit
- ETIAS Fundamental Rights Guidance Board
- ETIAS Screening Board
- European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA)
The process of recruiting and training personnel across these seven different departments or systems can be challenging and may result in unexpected delays in supporting a complex system like the ETIAS.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created financial uncertainties for countries across the globe, including the EU states. As a result, budget planning has become challenging, and various departments responsible for constructing or supporting the ETIAS may have experienced budget cuts.
By gaining more time to develop the system, the EU can allocate its ETIAS budget more effectively, enabling a slower development-path and deployment approach. This approach may help to alleviate some of the financial pressures caused by the pandemic and allow for a more even distribution of resources towards the ETIAS project.
What does the delay of ETIAS imply for visitors to the European Union?
The ETIAS launch delay means that eligible travelers will not be required to get their ETIAS until 2024. While the EU had initially announced that the system would be launched in November 2023, this was not intended to be the mandatory date for travelers.
Originally, travelers were expected to apply for the ETIAS between May and November 2023, and approval would become mandatory from November 2023. The recent delay, however, confirmed that the ETIAS system will not become mandatory until the beginning of 2024, and travelers will not be required to obtain an ETIAS until then.
What to do if not eligible for ETIAS?
Travelers who are not eligible for the ETIAS will need a Schengen Visa for visiting the EU. Obtaining these travel authorizations requires careful planning due to the significant differences between the Schengen Visa and the ETIAS.
While the ETIAS processing time takes up to 96 hours, applying for a Schengen Visa may take several weeks. Moreover, obtaining a Schengen Visa is substantially more expensive than obtaining an ETIAS.
More on ETIAS
ETIAS Requirements – ETIAS application specifications.
ETIAS Countries – European countries to be visited with ETIAS.
Who Needs ETIAS – The eligible nations to travel visa-free with ETIAS.
Apply for ETIAS – The process of ETIAS Application.
ETIAS FAQs – All the questions and answers on ETIAS.