EU Releases Carrier Obligations for Upcoming ETIAS Launch

EU Releases Carrier Obligations for Upcoming ETIAS Launch

The European Union (EU) has set out rules that international airlines, sea, and coach operators need to follow as the European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) gets ready to launch.

The ETIAS will have a significant effect on travelers to certain European countries and on the carriers that transport them there, as stated by the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs.

Preparing for ETIAS

To comply with the new requirements, carriers will need to start preparing well in advance of ETIAS’s mid-2025 launch date.

The first step is registration with eu-LISA, the EU agency managing the system. Over 1,000 carriers, mostly from the aviation industry, have already completed this process.

After registration, carriers will need to link their systems to the new ETIAS carrier interface to send verification requests.

For system-to-system connections, pre-compliance testing followed by compliance certification will be required.

Carriers using the web portal or mobile app will need to provide training to authorized staff based on eu-LISA guidelines.

Verifying travelers

Beginning in mid-2025, airlines will need to check that visa-exempt travelers have obtained a valid ETIAS travel authorization within 48 hours before their flight departure.

International coach operators will have a three-year transition period to meet this requirement. Verification will occur electronically through the carrier interface.

Travelers flagged as “OK” can board, while those receiving a “NOK ETIAS” response are not authorized.

For “NOK” responses, carriers will need to manually verify the traveler’s documents and scope. Boarding will ultimately be denied to travelers without a valid ETIAS.

ETIAS eligibility for travelers

ETIAS will be required for visa-exempt nationals traveling to the 30 European countries in the ETIAS program for short stays of 90 days or less.

People from EU Schengen nationals, as well as those with residence permits in the EU, do not need to apply for ETIAS. Certain groups like transport crew members are also exempt.

Carriers are responsible for determining whether a traveler's status should be queried via the carrier interface.

ETIAS will be valid for three years or until passport expiry, whichever comes first. It does not guarantee entry, which remains at the discretion of border authorities.

Six-month adjustment for travelers and carriers

To ease the transition, ETIAS will begin with a six-month grace period, extendable to one year.

During this time, travelers can enter without an ETIAS on their first trip. Subsequent entries will require a valid authorization.

Carriers will receive an “OK” response for first-time travelers without ETIAS during the grace period.

Carrier assistance and liability

The ETIAS Central Unit will provide 24/7 operational and technical support to carriers in English via a web portal and emergency phone line.

Carriers are liable for boarding passengers without valid ETIAS or visas and may face penalties set by member states.

However, they will not be penalized if their verification query, sent 48 hours before departure, returns an “OK” response.

Special travel situations

ETIAS requirements and carrier obligations can vary for certain territories and traveler situations.

For example, ETIAS applies to travel from overseas French territories to ETIAS countries but not for journeys to those territories.

Crew members are ETIAS-exempt when on duty but may require authorization if traveling as passengers, depending on individual country policies.

ETIAS launch on the horizon

With less than two years until launch, carriers must stay informed on ETIAS developments and prepare their processes, systems, and staff to meet the new requirements.

Careful coordination between carriers, IT providers, and EU authorities will be essential to ensuring a smooth rollout of this important new travel security program.