Starting in 2025, the European Union will begin to roll out the new European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) which will impact upon citizens and passport holders of countries outside the European Union and Schengen Area. It is estimated that it will be a further six months before ETIAS becomes mandatory for “third country” nationals (a third country being any nation which is not a member of the EU or Schengen area) and this now includes British citizens following Brexit.
Application and Approval
The purpose of ETIAS is to strengthen European security by screening intending visitors. This is done via an online application form on which the applicant must supply the usual personal information (name, address, age, gender, etc.) and also details relating to past criminal or terrorism activity as well as details with regard to serious medical issues or contagious diseases.
Because the application form is only available online, an applicant will need a valid email address for confirmation purposes as well as a credit or debit card for making payment.
Although the application form is detailed, it is estimated it can be completed in ten minutes or less and approval is expected to be granted almost immediately to more than 95% of applicants.
Payment method and costs
Payment for ETIAS is an integral part of the application process and no application will be processed or approved until full payment has been made. Because the application is completed online (and not in person at a physical location) payment must also be made online which will require the use of an acceptable credit or debit card.
The cost of an ETIAS includes the actual fee required by the EU authorities and any costs incurred for administration purposes. When ETIAS was first discussed a fee of €5.00 was the proposed total cost but this has since risen to €7 and a further increase cannot be ruled out.
Once the application form has been completed the last step is to make the required payment without which the form cannot be submitted. The process is the same as for most online transactions with the applicant needing to supply the following:
- Card holder's name
- Debit/credit card number
- Card expiration date
- CVC/CVV security number
Once the form has been submitted, along with payment, the applicant should receive confirmation of the approved ETIAS by email within a matter of minutes.
Validity and renewal
An ETIAS remains valid for a period of three years from the date of approval at which time it must be renewed if further travel to Europe is planned. Although the ETIAS is electronically linked to a passport this does not mean that ETIAS approval and passport validity expire at the same time. The procedure for renewing an ETIAS is exactly the same as for a first time application which means filling in the application form and paying the required fee once again. It is prudent to ensure that a passport's expiration date is sufficient to cover all (or most) of the three years covered by an ETIAS as this will save time, money and inconvenience when it is time to renew the ETIAS.
What countries require ETIAS?
Countries in the Schengen Area covered by ETIAS are:
Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Once fully rolled out, ETIAS will be required for "third country" passport holders who wish to visit any of the European Union or Schengen member states and entitles the holder to remain in the Schengen Area for up to 90 days within any given 180-day period.