ETIAS Will Prescreen Travelers to Europe
The system’s goal is to provide simple screening—without a visa application.
Currently, U.S. citizens can travel to Europe without a visa for up to 90 days, but soon anyone visiting the European Union will need authorization before traveling. The E.U. announced last year that it is creating the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS). Contrary to recent reports this spring, ETIAS is not a visa. Instead, the system will carry out pretravel screening of visa-free travelers—including U.S. citizens—for access to the Schengen area, a zone of 26 European countries whose citizens can cross its internal borders freely. The zone covers most of Europe, from Scandinavia to Slovakia to Greece.
“Our police officers and border guards need to have the right tools to do their jobs—keeping our citizens safe and our borders secure. ETIAS will prescreen visa-free visitors for potential security problems,” said Julian King, commissioner for the E.U.’s Security Union, in a statement.
Visa-free travelers, including Americans, will need to request authorization from ETIAS before crossing the Schengen external border. But the system’s goal is to provide affordable, simple, and fast screening ahead of travel without trips to a consulate or a lengthy wait for a visa.
ETIAS travel authorization will be requested through an online application, taking fewer than 10 minutes, with immediate, automated approval granted in nearly all cases. A travel document (a passport or other equivalent document) will be the only paperwork needed to apply. Travelers will have to pay a fee of seven euros, or about $8, for an ETIAS authorization that will be valid for three years.
Europe-bound travelers will need to present both a valid travel document and an ETIAS authorization when arriving at E.U. borders. But there is plenty of time to adapt to these changes. The system is still in the early stages of development with the goal of being operational by the end of 2021.
Image credit: iStockphoto