March 1, 2023
Travelers bound for the European Union will not have to apply for an ETIAS electronic entry document until at least 2024.
The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is an electronic pre-screening tool for entry into the 27 countries in the Schengen zone from the 60+ countries that currently enjoy visa-free travel into the zone (Schengen covers much of the European Union). But since its announcement in 2018, ETIAS has been plagued by delays. While ETIAS was supposed to go into effect in November 2023, its formal roll-out has been pushed back again to an unspecified date in 2024.
As envisioned, ETIAS is meant to enhance border security by screening visitors from countries which enjoy visa-free travel to the Schengen zone. Application for an ETIAS will be done online, with an entry decision typically made within 96 hours. For those travelers approved, the ETIAS is electronically connected to their passport. All a traveler will need to do upon arrival at a Schengen border entry point is have their passport scanned (passports must be a biometric, or “e-passport”).
But integrating the entry systems of 27 nations, with hundreds of individual entry points has caused a series of problems for ETIAS. Concerns have been raised over potential extensive delays at entry points, as well as potential staffing shortages at ETIAS-related screening stations. Further complicating ETIAS implementation was the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. While the UK was not a member of the Schengen zone, it was part of the European Union. When ETIAS was originally conceived, the UK as an EU-member nation, but now the UK is classified as a non-EU nation, subjecting its traveling citizens to a different level of scrutiny within ETIAS, and raising concerns over further entry processing delays.
No new launch date for ETIAS has been set in 2024. Travelers heading to the 27 Schengen zone countries should therefore plan to travel under the existing set of regulations. CIBT will continue to issue updates on ETIAS as they become available.