In early August 2022, the European Union announced the delay of launching the ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System). The ETIAS was initially intended to be launched in early 2022, however, after several setbacks due to COVID and other headwinds, the EU slowed down the roll-out plans. This was the third time the ETIAS launch has been delayed. The first delay was from sometime in 2022 to January 2023, the second delay was to May 2023 and the third was to November 2023. The fourth delay occurred in late February 2023, where the EU again, has pushed back the ETIAS launch to 2024.
What are the benefits of delaying the ETIAS launch?
Delaying the ETIAS launch will benefit intermediaries and service providers in the travel industry, particularly those that service travel to European Union countries. Eurostar, Eurotunnel and other operators have expressed concern with capturing facial and fingerprint data to feed into the ETIAS. The infrastructure at many airports, ports, rail and land crossings are currently unable to cope with such data capture. The delay is expected to provide more time to ramp up their capabilities and ensure their systems are prepared. It is expected that airports will find it easier to integrate the ETIAS within their systems as many have the scanning infrastructure in place as opposed to operators of port, rail or land crossings that likely do not have any such equipment or hardware.
What are other reasons why the ETIAS launch has been pushed back?
Other reasons for the push back on the ETIAS launch could be related to technical issues, resourcing or staffing issues as well as budget.
Launching a new digital authorisation system is a massive effort, the scale of which is known only to a handful of countries such as the United States with its ESTA program, Canada with its eTA program, as well as a few others. These travel authorisation systems link with dozens of databases and other applications, many of which are unique to both EU and non-EU countries. Thus, integrating all the parts to create a functioning whole is a technical challenge. Furthermore, the system needs to be deployed at air, land, sea and rail border crossings throughout Europe.
Earlier in 2022, the initial batch of ETIAS central unit operators graduated from their training program. The EU plans to hire more resources to support the ETIAS operations. The ETIAS is structured into roughly seven systems or components. These are as follows:
- ETIAS Central Unit
- ETIAS National Units
- European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol)
- European Union Agency for the Operational Management of Large-Scale IT Systems in the Area of Freedom, Security and Justice (eu-LISA)
- ETIAS Screening Board
- European Border and Coast Guard Agency
- ETIAS Fundamental Rights Guidance Board
Hiring and training staff across these seven departments or systems results in unforeseen delays to support a system of the size and scope of ETIAS.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made budgeting difficult for countries around the world. Those within the EU are no exception. As such, budget cuts for the EU may have affected various departments involved with building or supporting ETIAS. By allowing for more time for the system to develop means the EU ETIAS budget can be spread out to support a slower development and deployment plan.
What does this delay mean for travellers to the EU?
The push back of the ETIAS launch means eligible travellers will not need to obtain an ETIAS until 2025. The EU previously stated their intention to launch the system in November 2023, yet this was not the date it was meant to be mandatory for travellers. Travellers were intended to be able to apply for ETIAS between May 2023 and November 2023, yet ETIAS approval was to be required from November 2023. However. with the recent update, it confirms ETIAS will be required starting sometime in 2025 and not in 2023.
What if I am not eligible for ETIAS?
There are noticeable differences between a Schengen Visa and an ETIAS that require travellers to plan ahead with how long they leave to obtain their travel authorisations. ETIAS will take up to 96 hours to process, whereas a Schengen Visa can take several weeks. Furthermore, applying for a Schengen Visa will cost substantially more than an ETIAS.
Where can I learn more about ETIAS?
You can visit the following pages to learn more about each of the related ETIAS topics:
ETIAS Countries – Which EU countries will you need an ETIAS to enter.
ETIAS Requirements – A list of the general ETIAS requirements.
ETIAS FAQ – Frequently asked questions about ETIAS.
Who needs ETIAS? – Citizens of the countries listed can apply for ETIAS.
ETIAS Assessment – Find out if your future travel purposes will be covered with an ETIAS.
What is the Schengen Area? – Learn more about the Schengen Area, member countries and its history.